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Diverse leadership, missions receive United Way grants

Nonprofit targeted groups serving those disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

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Donavan Bailey is one of the co-hosts of Barbershop Talk South Minnesota with fellow co-host Bud Whitehorn (not pictured).
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United Way awarded $100,000 in grants to seven Olmsted County organizations serving racial and ethnic groups in the area that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

Recipients were chosen to try to shorten the disparities in health, financial stability, and education for less-privileged communities.

Locally and nationally, the ongoing pandemic has impacted immigrant/refugee communities and people of color more than white residents.

Olmsted County’s poverty rate for Black households is more than five times that of white households, according to United Way’s press release. Households of color experience 72% more financial stress than white households. And although Olmsted County’s population is around 6% Black, Black people account for about 32% of local confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The organizations receiving grants include Barbershop and Social Services , Hope Fuse , the Intercultural Mutual Assistance Association , Journie , Somali American Social Service Association , Somali Community Resettlement Services and Sports Mentorship Academy .

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The award amounts ranged from $9,000 to $20,000 each, said Emily Johnston, United Way’s vice president of community impact.

A team of volunteers with experience working with diverse nonprofits looked at the impact or potential impact of the organizations, based on whether the organization served and was run by people who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

“These organizations are helping sustain members of our community who are feeling the impacts of COVID the most, so we are helping sustain those organizations,” Johnston said.

She said United Way is proud to support groups led by those affected by COVID — 85% of the organizations receiving awards are Black-led, and 43% are run by immigrant or refugee leadership.

“Most of our nonprofits in Olmsted County, as in many cases, are led by white people and U.S.-born people, even though many of our nonprofits are serving people of color and serving immigrants and refugees,” Johnston said. “To be able to support 100% of our awards going to people of color and immigrants and refugees was a great step.”

A previous version of this article said Johnston's last quote read, "“Most of our nonprofits in Olmsted County, as in many cases, are led by white people and West-born people, even though many of our nonprofits are serving people of color and serving immigrants and refugees."

Related Topics: NONPROFITS
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