United Way Suncoast launches new approach to help nonprofits

TAMPA, Fla. — Completing grants each year is a hassle that takes up valuable time and energy. That’s why United Way Suncoast leaders provide three-year grants.

Since the start of the pandemic, nonprofits have struggled to help an ever-growing number of people in need. Today we are faced with record inflation and soaring gasoline prices.

“This is the first time we have received this type of funding from United Way Suncoast,” said Eleanor Saunders, chief executive of Emergency Care Assistance Organization (ECHO), said. “So we’re thrilled. And they’re just being generous, and we’re super happy that they’re doing it.”

ECHO serves more than 15,000 residents of the unincorporated county of Hillsborough each year. Saunders said she called them their neighbors. The goal is to help people get the help they need to find a job and one day be able to support themselves. United Way awarded ECHO $90,000 over three years.

“This will fund our mobile return to work program,” Saunders said. “So instead of our neighbors needing to come to our centers, we will go to their homes. A lot of our neighbors live in motels that are paid by the week and we can go to the motels and connect people to jobs, connect Connect to affordable housing options, connect people for reliable transportation and childcare through the Early Learning Coalition.”

United Way Suncoast told ABC Action News reporter Michael Paluska that they had received requests worth $50 million, but could fund $18 million. The money will support 88 organizations for a total of 100 programs.

“This is the first time we’ve given multi-year funding, and the reasons for that are to make sure we’re not asking our nonprofit partners to continually waste time and resources applying for funding,” Josh Dunn , said the senior director of investments and partnership strategies. “We think it helps to have a long-term view of the support we provide to families. This allows all of us at United Way Suncoast, as well as our partners, to collect better data on the programs we offer so that we can show the impact of our investment and hopefully multiply it and attract supporters to ensure that these programs continue to do the excellent work for which they applied. »

ECHO’s resource center sees more and more new families struggling with homelessness.

“I have never seen so many men cry in my life as I have seen here in the last year and a half,” said Iris Thurman, advocacy director at ECHO. “And that’s because they’re out of hope, they’re hopeless. So what we’re doing here at Echo, we’re taking the pressure off a little bit for them, I mean, and then we’re giving them the time to come together.”

With community support, Saunders said he can help people get back on their feet.

“We’re like a steroid resource center,” Saunders said. “Hunger is just a symptom of greater need. So whatever it is, do you need a job? Do you need affordable housing? children? Do you need reliable transportation? We want to connect you with these things. It’s going to create stability for you. And then, obviously, we have emergency food and clothing, which we can always keeping ourselves busy. For us, that’s the most important thing because our goal is to put our pantry out of business. So, man, we want to create those opportunities for people to support themselves.”

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