United Way of New York City on Wednesday announced the launch of a new fund to assist the most vulnerable New Yorkers impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

Through the Covid-19 Community Fund, United Way’s network of 600 direct service community-based organizations will receive additional funding support to address the emerging needs of residents and communities disproportionately impacted by the virus.

“United Way of New York City has always been committed to supporting our communities during our City’s most critical moments,” said Sheena Wright, president and CEO of United Way of New York City. “Through the COVID-19 Community Fund, we are going to provide a backbone of support to our 600 community-based organization partners who are managing this crisis throughout our great City.”

The organization in the past has done successful crisis management, pooling corporate and community funds to mobilize its network of CBO’s following Superstorm Sandy and 9/11. The current crisis presents an entirely new, unique challenge in this time of social distancing and sheltering-in, as the workforce and volunteers– many of whom are seniors– no longer are available to gather and organize as before, said Wright.

Sheena Wright, president and CEO of United Way of New York City

“All at once, everything is compounded in ways that it wasn’t just a few weeks ago,” she said. “We have to be careful in this crisis with our approach, as well as thoughtful and deliberate in making sure we’re meeting the needs of the community in the best way we can.”

With the help of $500,000 and $250,000 donations from The New York Jets & the Johnson family and National Grid respectively, the organization’s network of community partners will provide direct services through UWNYC’s ReadNYC, FeedNYC and StrengthenNYC programs, which  includes connecting food insecure New Yorkers to emergency food providers, supporting remote learning for students and their families with critical resources like books, laptops and tablets; and providing safety supplies like masks, gloves and bags.

“All at once, everything is compounded in ways that it wasn’t just a few weeks ago,” said Wright.

Through its network, UWNYC aims to connect unemployed residents with organizations that can assist with utilities, mortgage and rent relief, eviction prevention and benefits enrollment.

It’s a rapidly changing situation that has been quite an adventure so far, said Wright. But the organization is prepared: “We have to bootstrap how we do this …. to make sure we get the resources to where they are needed most, she said.

“We fundamentally believe that while fear spreads fast, help spreads faster—and we are the connection for our community to provide and receive help during this time.”

Individuals, businesses or community groups interested in supporting New Yorkers in need can contribute to the Fund directly at https://donate.unitedwaynyc.org/page/contribute/covid19-appeal.

For more information on the fund, visit https://unitedwaynyc.org/covid19/.

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