United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley Awards $120,000 in Equity Grants to 6 Local Partners

United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley (UWGLV) has ensured that persons-with-disabilities and Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) and LGBTQ+ populations have more programs and services focused on their needs by providing $120,000 in grants to six local agencies.  

The first-of-its-kind Closing the Equity Gap grant program provides six, one-time grants of $20,000 each to organizations that explicitly support programs, services and organizations that aim to close equity gaps in our community.

Nationally, a fraction of grant dollars goes toward organizations led by and serving these communities. Only 10% of funding goes to specifically support people of color, only 28 cents of every dollar awarded by U.S. foundations supports LGBTQ+ issues and 3.5% of foundation grants support persons with disabilities.

“United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley envisions a community where everyone belongs and everyone thrives. We are proud to support leaders and organizations who center equity and community voice in their work,” said Erin Connelly, Associate Vice President, Impact for UWGLV.

The grants will support programs and services within our current Bold Goal areas—Education, Healthy Aging, Food Access and Emergency services.

The grants have been awarded to the following agencies:

  • Cohesion Network
    • Support a Community Block Ambassadors program to increase public safety, help neighbors in times of crisis, organize community connection points (Emergency Services)
  • Eastern PA Trans Equity Project
    • Support for transgender individuals to overcome many of the obstacles they face including name changes, shelter, food access (Emergency Services/Food Access). Funding will also support cultural competency training, site audits and consulting services for local nonprofit organizations
  • Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living
    • Support a comprehensive, choice-based food access program to support people with disabilities (Food Access)
  • Unidos
    • Support for technology infrastructure development for their education programming, hiring a part-time program coordinator and providing stipends for their tutors (Education)
  • Operation Address The Homeless
    • Support adding a commercial kitchen in OATH’s facility to offer hot meals. Funding will also support connection to employment opportunities, life skills, and rehabilitative services (Emergency Services)
  • Mother2Mother
    • Support workshops for mothers and families to address trauma and grief. The funds will also be used to assist families with the cost of funerals and providing meals. (Emergency Services)

“So many people of transgender experience live at the intersections of gender, race, and educational/economic disparities,” remarked Corinne Goodwin, Executive Director at Eastern PA Trans Equity Project. “We are grateful that UWGLV has recognized the need to support our Community and are even more excited to put these funds to work helping trans folk do more than strive. Now they will be given the opportunity to thrive,” she added.

“Funding will go to support The Community Block Ambassador Program. Community Block Ambassadors (CBA) engages homeowners and renters in fostering safe, vital and hospitable neighborhoods where neighbors build relationships and share resources,” remarked Darian Colbert, Executive Director at Cohesion Network. “The1st & 6th Ward CBA groups meet monthly and have 30 neighbors in attendance. We have representation from the APD, ASD, the Parking Authority, and regular attendance of those in city government. Our neighbors are seeing what they need in their community and at the same time seeking the resources to address these needs.”

UWGLV commits to continue examining our funding practices, ensuring that organizations that receive United Way funding are committed to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and can demonstrate that commitment in values, policies and practices.