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Dane County nonprofits raise $900,000 to help residents affected by COVID-19 pandemic
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Dane County nonprofits raise $900,000 to help residents affected by COVID-19 pandemic

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In less than a week, the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County and nonprofit partners have raised more than $900,000 to help those affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The Boys & Girls Club — in partnership with the United Way of Dane County and the Waunakee-based nonprofit Selfless Ambition — on Friday announced a plan to distribute emergency aid for those “hit hardest by the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus outbreak.”

As of Friday morning, the groups had raised $935,500 for the Dane County COVID-19 Emergency and Recovery Fund. By Monday, they hope to have raised $1 million, said Michael Johnson, Boys & Girls Club president and CEO.

The money will fund child care and free meals, and go toward resources for businesses that have lost income, homeless people, families in crisis and more.

Johnson said 100% of the money raised will go back into the community. No funds will be used to cover the administrative costs of the organizations collecting and distributing donations.

“Every single penny for this campaign is going to make a difference,” Johnson said.

Money raised will be distributed through two approaches, one focused on short-term emergencies and the other on longer-term response and recovery.

Short-term response

Fundraising for the short-term fund will close on March 20, but the long-term recovery fund will remain open.

The short-term fund, which is being operated by the Boys & Girls Club and Selfless Ambition, will go toward medical supplies, meals for children during school closures, local shelters, college students who have been displaced, senior citizens in need of food and transportation assistance, and families, individuals and businesses facing unexpected hardships.

Other local nonprofits that are more familiar with the groups of people in need will apply with the Boys & Girls Club to become distributors of the funds, Johnson said.

The application deadline is Tuesday, and the organizations will be selected Friday. Those selected will be given checks March 31. Organizations can apply on the Boys & Girls Club website.

“We’re doing it as quickly as we can,” Johnson said.

Sarah Ghee, Boys & Girls Club vice president, said the goal is to have a “balanced approach” with a diversity of organizations to help many areas of the community.

The nonprofits that are selected will have the discretion to start their own programs, such as ones to distribute medical supplies or free meals, or give money directly to families, the elderly or other individuals facing hardships. Ghee said as soon as organizations get the money on March 31, they’ll be able to immediately funnel it back into the community.

Johnson said the organizations will be monitored and the Boys & Girls Club will issue reports on how the money is being used.

Long-term recovery

United Way will head up the second part of the fund, focused on long-term response and recovery.

Renee Moe, president and CEO of United Way of Dane County, said her organization will be focused on free meals, eviction prevention and homelessness prevention, such as providing rent assistance to families or individuals. There will also be a “flex fund” that can be used to help individuals, families or nonprofits that experience unexpected crises.

Moe said these priorities might change as time goes on and different needs emerge.

“It’s so unknown that we’re really being nimble to figure out what are the needs of the community,” she said.

Not done yet

United Way is also recruiting healthy volunteers to assist with food delivery, child care for emergency workers, and staffing for food pantries and temporary housing.

Moe also asked that people continue to donate if they are able because there are so many Dane County residents affected that the $900,000 already raised is going to run out fast.

“There’s not going to be enough,” she said.

The money will fund child care and free meals, and go toward resources for businesses that have lost income, homeless people, families in crisis and more.

The money will fund child care and free meals, and go toward resources for businesses that have lost income, homeless people, families in crisis and more. 

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