United Way of West Florida recently awarded $ 700,000 in community investment grants to 26 nonprofits to support 31 programs.
United Way of West Florida strives to create long-term solutions to the biggest community challenges by investing in programs, administering local initiatives and engaging in community partnerships.
The funded programs provide essential services to individuals and families in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties and focus on the areas of health, education and financial stability. The source of these grant funds are undesignated contributions from more than 85 local workplace campaigns and individual donors.
The 2021-2022 Community Investment Grants fall under the following four areas of intervention.
Health scholarships – $ 305,550
- Capstone Adaptive Learning and Therapy – Essential Health Access serving Escambia and Santa Rosa counties
- Center for Independent Living – Mobility Access Project Serving Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties
- Council on Aging of West Florida – Senior Companion Program serving Escambia and Santa Rosa counties
- Council on Aging of West Florida – Nutrition Program Serving Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties
- Embrace Florida Kids – Family Preservation and Girls Home serving Escambia and Santa Rosa counties
- Epilepsy Florida – Epilepsy Services and Resource Center Serving Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties
- Gulf Coast Kid’s House – Family Advocacy Serving Escambia County
- Health and Hope Clinic – Access to healthcare serving Escambia and Santa Rosa counties
- Lutheran Services Florida – Sexual / Physical Abuse Treatment Program Serving Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties
- MANNA Food Bank – Seniors Healthy Food Program Serving Escambia County
- Pensacola United Methodist Community Ministries – Hot and Healthy Meals Serving Escambia County
- Santa Rosa Kid’s House – Trauma-Centered Therapy Serving Santa Rosa County
Scholarships – $ 229,505
- AMIkids – AMIkids Pensacola serving Escambia and Santa Rosa counties
- Autism Pensacola – Kids for Camp Summer Learning Lab serving Escambia and Santa Rosa counties
- Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Florida – Community Mentoring Serving Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties
- Boys and Girls Club of the Emerald Coast – Academic success serving Escambia and Santa Rosa counties
- Capstone Adaptive Learning and Therapy Centers – Behavioral ABC Serving Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties
- Children’s Home Society of Florida – Teenspace serving Escambia County
- Council on Aging of West Florida – Foster Grandparent Program serving Escambia County
- Escambia County Public Schools Foundation for Excellence – THIS TIME: Treating Hygiene Absences with Tact in the Escambia County Service
- Girl Scouts of Gateway Council – Community Development Troops serving Escambia and Santa Rosa counties
- Independence for the Blind of West Florida – Transition Program for Blind and Visually Impaired Adolescents Serving Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties
- PACE Center for Girls – Girls’ Diploma Program (GED) serving Escambia and Santa Rosa counties
- Pensacola’s Promise dba Chain Reaction – Chain Reaction serving Escambia and Santa Rosa counties
Financial Stability Award – $ 164,944
- Northwestern Florida Catholic Charities – Emergency Assistance Serving Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties
- FavorHouse of Northwest Florida – Financial Stability Program for Victims of Domestic Violence Serving Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties
- Feeding the Gulf Coast – Mobile Pantry Program Serving Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties
- North Florida Legal Services – Independence for Addicted and Homeless Youth Serving Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties
- North Florida Legal Services – Legal Assistance for Veterans Serving Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties
- Re-Entry Alliance Pensacola – Re-entry portal serving Santa Rosa County
- Waterfront Rescue Mission – Career development program serving Escambia and Santa Rosa counties
In addition to the United Way of West Florida’s community investment process, the organization also raised $ 406,000 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These funds were distributed to 18 agencies in two phases to help with household expenses such as rent, mortgage assistance, utilities, health care, childcare, access to food, etc. .
The Gulf Power Foundation was the first corporate partner to provide support, with a generous contribution of $ 250,000. Other corporate donations came from Florida Blue, Beach Community Bank, Wind Creek Hospitality, Eastman Foundation, Navy Federal Credit Union. Contributions from individual donors totaled over $ 31,000.
United Way of West Florida also led local efforts to recover from the damage caused by Hurricane Sally. With $ 100,000 from Navy Federal and additional donations from the James M. Cox Foundation, Manheim, Publix Super Markets, Regions Bank, Beard Equipment Co., Florida Blue, Gulf Power, Target, Hancock Whitney, Minnesota Twins Baseball Club, Synovus , Shoe Station, The First Bank and Central Credit Union of Florida, over $ 500,000 has been raised to help our community recover.
The Hurricane Sally Relief Fund is overseen by the United Way of West Florida Community Investment Committee. Funding has been approved to support 10 agencies in Escambia County and Santa Rosa County for direct customer assistance in the amount of $ 266,000 and an additional $ 72,500 to six agencies to repair their installations and / or their equipment. The remaining funds are being distributed in conjunction with the Unmet Needs Committees of the Long Term Recovery Group in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.
211 Northwest Florida, the United Way of West Florida’s information and referral hotline, has been essential in helping our community meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and Hurricane Sally. In the past year, 211 has helped 42,781 callers make more than 130,000 connections to community resources and services such as utility assistance, emergency food and housing, counseling, mental health services, etc. These more than 40,000 calls reached 60,634 adults, 27,767 children and 12,092 elderly people.
Northwest Florida 211 has also expanded to incorporate text messaging into its 8-county service area, available 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday by simply sending your zip code to 898-211. Standard 211 calling service is available 24/7 by dialing 2-1-1 from any phone. The service is free and confidential.
The Florida Veterans Support Line, locally powered by 211 Northwest Florida, is a Tampa Bay Crisis Center program funded in part by the US Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Children and Families from Florida. Similar to 211, the Florida Veteran’s Support Line (FVSL) is an information and referral service that connects veterans with other veterans who can provide emotional support and assistance in accessing community resources.
Over the past year, 211 and FVSL have combined to answer 2,785 calls from veterans and / or their families in Northwest Florida. From those calls, 211 and the Florida Veteran’s Support Line helped 847 veterans receive support services and established 13,487 links to community resources for veterans and their families in Northwest Florida. .
Help with preparing tax returns
Each year, United Way of West Florida provides income tax preparation assistance to individuals and families in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties who earn $ 66,000 or less through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program ( VITA) and online tax assistance via MyFreeTaxes.
Since 2020, IRS-certified VITA volunteers have served over 7,000 hours, helping 5,371 individuals and families complete 2,082 tax returns and save $ 447,828.20 in preparation costs. Tax refunds totaled $ 5,889,401.38 with a leveraged Income Tax Credit (EITC).
In 2021, all tax preparation services were performed virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, VITA helped local tax filers receive economic impact payments (stimulus payments) totaling $ 189,489. and contributed to a total community impact of over $ 1.25 million.