SHELTON, Conn. (April 29, 2020) — The COVID-19 health crisis has required philanthropy to respond differently than traditional approaches. Households need food and cash, and they need it more quickly than governmental resources can be mobilized. Nonprofits and funders alike immediately heard of families that lost their income and childcare, who were not accustomed to contacting charitable resources.

To respond, fifteen United Ways across Connecticut, including the Valley United Way, joined forces within the first week of the COVID-19 shutdown to establish a fund to get money to those in need. By collaborating quickly and creating a partnership with a virtual payment provider, they were able to raise significant funds to help those who lost jobs and wages as a result of the pandemic. This unique, statewide effort, called the Connecticut United Ways COVID-19 Response Fund, is now disbursing payments to the mobile phones of residents across the state who need money for food and other necessities.

For the first round of distribution, the Fund raised approximately $450,000 to help Connecticut residents who are facing financial hardships and need money fast. Donors for that first round included the Aetna Foundation, The Connecticut Health Foundation, Travelers, Webster Bank, and Newtown Savings Bank. Since then, an additional $160,000 has been raised.

Valley United Way is currently working with TEAM Inc. (Derby, CT) to identify those most in need during this first round. Initially, recipients will receive $200. Additional funds may be available as donations allow. With almost $13,000 funds raised for the Valley to date, over 60 families have already started to receive funds to help with their most pressing needs.

Through a partnership with EML Payments Limited (“EML”), the innovative collaboration allows rapid distribution of dollars directly to beneficiaries. Once a beneficiary is pre-qualified by TEAM Inc., funds are loaded to the mobile wallet on the beneficiary’s smartphone. The funds are used to pay for necessities, such as food, medicine, utilities, and gasoline. The electronic distribution of funds means that money can be given to those who need it most, without violating social distancing requirements. This innovative service delivery model provides immediate relief to those struggling and gives families the flexibility to address their most urgent needs.

“Valley United Way is grateful for its partnership with its fellow Connecticut United Ways and with TEAM, Inc. staff to bring this state-of-the-art resource to the Valley right now.  As soon as we knew that so many businesses, small and large, were going to be closed, we knew we had to work quickly and smartly to help people who live paycheck to paycheck,” said David Kennedy, Valley United Way’s Interim President. “Thanks to compassionate donors who treasure system work, we are able to get funds directly to those who need it most.”

Non-profit leaders, who have been overwhelmed with requests since the crisis began, were grateful to be able to offer relief to those in need.

David Morgan, Executive Director of TEAM Inc. remarked, “I applaud the Valley United Way and Connecticut United Ways COVID-19 Response Fund for making a meaningful difference in the lives of others affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Each day I continue to witness firsthand the devastating impact on our residents and neighbors – children and families, adults and seniors; households from all walks of life finding themselves in the most difficult of circumstances due to this public health crisis. Kudos to the Valley United Way for their innovative approach to getting immediate and relevant relief to our residents and neighbors who need it the most.”

The Fund will be used to help individuals and families that United Way calls ALICE® (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). These are our hard-working neighbors who live paycheck to paycheck and have no savings to fall back on in an emergency like this. Many of them provide crucial services in our community—such as caring for our children and elderly parents. With no financial cushion, they are particularly vulnerable to the rapidly changing scenario our country now faces. United Way expects that the number of individuals and families in the state that fall into the ALICE income threshold will grow as the crisis continues.

To donate to the Connecticut United Ways COVID-19 Response Fund go to Donors will have the option to pay a 3.09% credit card processing fee so that 100% of their donation can go directly to those in need. Connecticut United Ways will not charge any administrative fees on donations to the Fund.

Learn more about Connecticut United Ways COVID-19 Fund Distribution Process

The process for distributing dollars from the Connecticut United Ways COVID-19 Response Fund enables those in need to obtain funds through a mobile wallet in their smartphones. This helps to adhere to social distancing requirements while getting funds to those most in need during this crisis. Click HERE for more details.



Connecticut United Ways advance the common good by creating opportunities for all, with a particular focus on education, income/financial security, health, and basic needs – the building blocks for a good quality of life. We engage people and organizations throughout our communities who bring passion, expertise, and resources needed to get things done, and we invite everyone to be part of the change.  For more information about the Valley United Way, visit its website at or contact David Kennedy, Interim President/COO at 203-538-6341.


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