BETTENDORF, IOWA (August 5, 2020) — United Way Quad Cities is kicking off its community campaign today, nearly two months early, and is inviting everyone businesses small and large, individual donors and foundations to commit whatever support possible to help get kids back on track in school, adults back to work, and enable residents to live healthy and safe lives. United Way hopes to raise $2.5 million by October 1 a meaningful start to the annual effort that goes through February 2021.

“This is an ambitious start for our annual fundraising campaign. It’s about a 40 percent increase from what we raised last year in this timeframe. But, bold leadership and decisive action is what’s required right now,” Rene Gellerman, United Way President and CEO, said. “The needs for the community services funded by United Way donors have grown tremendously since March, especially among low- to middle-income families who were laid off overnight.”

Requests continue to roll in

In the Quad-Cities area, requests for financial help and health, education, child-care, and housing-related services continue to roll in even as parts of the economy reopen.

In March, United Way Quad Cities partnered with the Quad Cities Community Foundation and Regional Development Authority to activate a disaster relief fund, which raised $1.3 million to aid 59 local organizations that are working on the front lines across our region.

Then in May, United Way launched its COVID-19 Rebuilding Fund as it transitioned its focus to the longer-term gaps in education, soaring unemployment, and health and well-being of Quad Citizens. To date, $150,000 has been raised to support local organizations focused on providing youth programming and distance-learning, health, and basic needs such as food, shelter, rent/utility assistance, needed household items and more. The next round of grants from the fund will be awarded in October.

Reaching new donors and lifting up our community

Responding to the increased community needs and to help the United Way meet its goal in October, an anonymous donor has committed to match the first $300,000 donated to the United Way in new or incremental gifts.

Also, three tri-chairs are seeking to bring together a diverse team of local leaders to mobilize the business community so critical to United Way’s fundraising campaign every year as well as reach potential new donors who aren’t exposed to the organization through workplace giving.

The tri-chairs for this year’s campaign are Mara Downing, John Deere’s Vice President, Global Brand and Communications; Chad Everitt, Davenport Managing Director at Deloitte; and Jabari Woods, Associate Director of HR & Equity at Davenport Community Schools.

“We know only a fraction of people in the Quad Cities have the opportunity to give to United Way at their workplace. And there are countless others across our bi-state region who generously want to give back in a meaningful way to help address the challenges we’re currently facing,” Everitt said.

“We’re focusing on reaching prospective individual donors in a variety of ways, including an easy-to-use website platform and text giving. Through a truly community-wide effort, anyone can help make a difference to keep United Way on track to meeting its goals as it heads into the official start for many of the traditional United Way workplace campaigns.”

During the fall sprint, the early phase of the annual campaign, United Way will also launch grassroots, social, and promotional initiatives that focus on unity, hope, equity and community pride to highlight solutions to challenges in education, income, and health across the Quad-Cities community.

“For nearly 50 years, our United Way has rallied resources and people to put opportunity in the hands of Quad Citizens who need it most,” Gellerman said. “Our mission and belief in the power of unity are more important today than ever before. To keep that mantra top of mind, our campaign theme is ‘Stronger Together’ this year.”

“We can’t do things the way we’ve always done them,” Woods said. “Now is the time to resist falling back into old patterns where education, income, and health outcomes remain unchanged. I’m energized to be a part of a broader community effort that aims to break down barriers, address systemic disparities, and inspire more people to contribute opportunities and resources that will improve lives and build a more resilient and equitable Quad Cities.”

“We need everyone who can to step up,” Downing said. “The power of one donation, no matter how small, when placed in the hands of United Way, has an amplified impact. United Way harnesses a combination of community resources to mount comprehensive solutions for the toughest obstacles.”

Responding to COVID-19

In addition to its work with the Quad Cities Disaster Recovery Fund and the COVID-19 Rebuilding Fund, United Way has responded to the COVID-19 crisis within the community in many ways, including:

  • Offering United Way’s 36 funded agencies early access to allocations for help with emergency relief.
  • Establishing the 2-1-1 call center as a one-stop shop for COVID-19 support and service referrals.
  • Conducting a virtual book drive, delivering more than 100 books to essential workers’ kids at local child care centers in May.
  • Re-aligning nearly $3 million of Strategic Impact grants to support local nonprofits working on the economic and health recovery and rebuilding from COVID-19.
  • Connecting volunteers to virtual and in-person opportunities to help fulfill urgent needs like distribution of food, hygiene, PPE, and cleaning supplies.
  • Working closely with Scott and Rock Island counties’ superintendents to find and fund solutions that makes student-learning possible.

“We’re proud of our response so far, but we know there is so much more to do if we are to recover and rebuild a stronger Quad Cities,” Gellerman noted.

“The pandemic is a once-in-a-generation health crisis, but it’s also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fold in solutions to problems that we’ve put off for too long. Our community has embraced the rally cry that we’re all in this together. I’m optimistic that we’ll prove it. Every dollar invested in this effort can help us achieve powerful outcomes.”

About United Way Quad Cities

United Way is a community-based social change organization that puts opportunity in the hands of all Quad Citizens. Working with our determined partners, volunteers, advocates, and donors, we lead the charge to improve education, income, and health the building blocks of opportunity. The result is a mobilized community where every Quad Citizen is living their best possible life.  

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