On Friday, United Way Quad Cities announced it has awarded $275,000 in grants to local organizations to help reduce and prevent racial inequities in education, income and health.

Kelly Thompson is vice president of grantmaking and community initiatives at the Quad Cities Community Foundation.

The new “United for Equity” grants will help 25 nonprofits, grassroots organizations and social entrepreneurs provide access and opportunity to people of color in the Quad Cities by focusing on three primary goals — empowering the next generation, strengthening families, and educating and equipping the community.

“In these turbulent times, issues of racial equity and social justice have been magnified. And, our region is at a pivotal moment of renewal and rebuilding,” said Rene Gellerman, United Way president and CEO. “When I speak to people from various sectors, communities and of differing viewpoints, the one thing we agree on is that in order to build a stronger, more equitable Quad-Cities, we have to do more together to put opportunity in the hands of every Quad Citizen, regardless of race or ZIP code.”

“The Quad Cities Community Foundation and more than 25 local corporate partners joined United Way in launching the United for Equity Fund, aimed to drive equitable community change. The themes for these grants were the result of the input from the 400 Quad Citizens who participated in the October 2020 Quad Cities Equity Summit.”

A large share of funding for the grants came from the Quad Cities Community Foundation,

Rene Gellerman is president/CEO of United Way Quad Cities.

which announced a second Transformation Grant of $50,000 to match an investment of the same size announced in November.

“Members of our community have the solutions to the challenges our region faces. They just need the resources to start or expand them,” said Kelly Thompson, vice president of grantmaking and community initiatives at the Community Foundation.

“Our board of directors, our staff, and our donors are so proud to support the United for Equity Fund with this second $50,000 Transformation Grant because we know that, through these grants from the United Way, there will be meaningful, innovative and intentional work happening through the community, by the community, to address the systemic challenges that people of color experience on a daily basis.”

“The United Way and the Quad Cities Community Foundation have a strong partnership, a history of working together and pooling resources to make a bigger impact. The challenges facing our region can’t be solved alone.” Gellerman said. “Through these two Transformation Grants totaling $100,000, the Quad Cities Community Foundation has nearly doubled the opportunity we have together to help change lives and create a more equitable community.”

Focused on inclusivity

Among the grant recipients were 14 organizations or groups which have never received funding from United Way before. Beginning with the United for Equity grants, the nonprofit expanded the pool of eligible applicants by encouraging local social entrepreneurs and grassroots organizations to apply to reach underserved communities in the Q-C.

United Way Quad Cities has awarded $275,000 to local organizations to help reduce racial inequities in health, education and income.

“United Way stands for using its resources and connections to bring the best people, ideas and projects together to create opportunities for all Quad Citizens,” said Dr. Burl Randolph Jr., Colonel U.S. Army (retired), and chair of the equity fund review panel.

“By bringing the spirit of diversity, equity, inclusion and innovation to the grant application process, United Way has shown it’s committed to finding and funding fresh ideas to address deep-rooted challenges that have gone unanswered for too long.”

Grant recipients include:

  • Boys & Girls Clubs of the Mississippi Valley – $12,808
  • Child Abuse Council – $2,500
  • Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. – $4,999
  • The Gene Garden Project – $2,500
  • Iowa Black Doula Collective – $4,999
  • Iowa Jobs for Americas Graduates (iJAG) Inc. – $25,000
  • Liberte Educational Consulting – $4,999
  • The Martin Luther King Jr Center – $25,000
  • The Minnie Fridge – $4,999
  • Narratives QC, Inc. – $4,999
  • NEST (Nourish Everyone Sustainably Together) – $3,000
  • Project Renewal – $15,600
  • Putnam Museum and Science Center – $45,000
  • QC Haven of Hope – $8,350
  • QC Women In Action – $4,500
  • Quad Cities Community Broadcasting Group – $10,000
  • Quad Cities Heat Track Club – $3,000
  • Quad Cities Open Network – $4,500
  • STEAM On Wheels – $4,999
  • Tapestry Farms – $20,750
  • TMBC @ The Lincoln Center – $4,999
  • Well Suited – $4,999
  • WVIK Quad Cities NPR – $7,500
  • YouthHope – $30,000
  • YWCA of the Quad Cities – $15,000

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The $45,000 for the Putnam (1717 W. 12th St., Davenport) is for the new Ground On Which We Stand (GroWS) project. The collaboration includes Azubuike African American Council for the Arts, Friends of MLK Interpretive Center and the League United Latin American Citizens Davenport Chapter 10 (LULAC).

Project activities will use local history, heritage, and storytelling to advance an understanding of race and systemic inequalities including providing high-quality training on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion for community leaders, employers, and educators.

The work will include transforming a permanent Putnam Q-C history exhibit (“River, Prairie and People”) so that it’s more inclusive and representative of the area’s increasingly diverse population.

Other grants this week

Earlier this week, United Way announced $149,107 in federal funds to nonprofits, faith-based organizations and government agencies that provide emergency food, shelter and rental assistance to meet the emerging needs of residents in Scott or Rock Island counties.

Quad-Cities organizations received funding from the Emergency Food and Shelter Program, sustained by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The grant review process was managed by United Way in collaboration with a review panel of community partners in nonprofits and government agencies.

“As our community closes in on a year of life under Covid, we continue to support the frontline workers and nonprofits attending to emerging needs and lasting challenges faced by families each day,” Gellerman said.

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“With so many of our neighbors coping with hardship, loss of income and health issues — through no fault of their own — we as a community should remain focused on solutions and hopeful for the future. While the impact of the coronavirus pandemic is a once-in-a-generation economic and health crisis, it is also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to retool solutions to problems we’ve put off for too long.”

United Way Q-C is partnering with 25 nonprofits, grassroots organizations and social entrepreneurs in the equity grants.

The organizations that received funding from the Emergency Food and Shelter Program include:

  • All Saints Church – $7,500
  • Christ UMC-EM – $1,000
  • Christian Care – $7,500
  • Friendly House – $4,000
  • Humility Homes – $29,913
  • Moline Township – $15,500
  • New Choices – One Foundation – $2,250
  • Pearl’s Mission – Tamara Thomas – $2,250
  • QC Haven of Hope – $6,600
  • SAL Open Door – $18,681
  • Salvation Army – $41,563
  • World Relief – $3,100
  • YouthHope – $2,500
  • YWCA – $6,750

FEMA allocated $74,876 to Rock Island County and $74,231 to Scott County for nonprofit and government agencies that operate emergency food or shelter programs.

Decisions on the grant awards are done by a local decision-making board that includes representatives from these organizations: American Red Cross, Community Action of Eastern Iowa, Department of Human Services, Diocese of Davenport, Milestones Area Agency on Aging, River Bend Foodbank, Salvation Army, Scott County Community Services and United Way Quad Cities.

For more information, visit www.unitedwayqc.org.

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Jonathan Turner has been covering the Quad-Cities arts scene for 25 years, first as a reporter with the Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, and then as a reporter with the Quad City Times. Jonathan is also an accomplished actor and musician who has been seen frequently on local theater stages, including the Bucktown Revue and Black Box Theatre.