CDA Press | January 10, 2022
By ELLI GOLDMAN HILBERT
COEUR d’ALENE — Because of the generosity of hundreds of area employees and a partnership with United Way of North Idaho, close to $300,000 is being invested in the work of local organizations.
The United Way Community Care Fund has partnerships with 62 businesses and collects “payroll deductions” from participating employees. Participating businesses include U.S. Bank, Mountain West Bank, Avista Utilities and Hecla Mining Company.
“A little bit comes out of the employee paychecks each month,” said Keri Cederquist, community impact director. “It can go toward a specific impact area or organization.”
Organizations receiving grants fall into three main categories: education, financial stability and health. The 23 organizations that received grant money for 2022 were chosen through a “competitive application process that includes vetting by panels of local volunteers,” according to a press release.
“This year especially, the impact councils looked to support organizations that are addressing the deep disparities caused by the ongoing COVID pandemic,” said April Fortier, community impact chair for the United Way board of directors. “The pandemic exposed critical shortcomings in our economy and intensified hardships for many households who were already struggling.”
The United Way has a big focus on early education and supporting ALICE, or asset limited, income constrained but employed, families. 41% of households in the region fall into the ALICE category, Cederquist said.
“They make too much to qualify for many local resources,” Cederquist said. “But they don’t make enough to make ends meet.”
Many of these families live at or below the federal poverty line, Cederquist said. Families with children face additional challenges. Often parents need to work but can't afford childcare.
The COVID pandemic has put ALICE workers even more at risk, Cederquist said. They are more vulnerable financially and health-wise. Many work in industries that don't offer remote work, or they’ve had to work reduced hours.
In some cases, they don’t have access to adequate personal protection equipment, putting them at risk of COVID exposure. Many industries such as hospitality and food service have slowed down and workers in many industries are being displaced, Cederquist said.
“Living paycheck to paycheck defines most ALICE households,” Cederquist said. Any disruption in income is liable to become a catastrophe.
In education, United Way funding supports library literacy to local child care centers, summer camps, parenting classes and quality after-school programs.
Financial stability partners include food banks, safe shelter and resources for ALICE families.
The health category supports nutrition programs, senior supports, infant safety and mental health needs.
Organizations in Kootenai, Bonner and Shoshone counties have received grants, including Coeur d’Alene Public Library Foundation; Gizmo-CDA’s Think, Make, Create Lab; STEM after-school programs; Kaniksu Land Trust; Lutherhaven Ministries; Sandpoint Youth Center; Tesh, Inc.; Camp Fire Inland Northwest; St. Vincent de Paul; CDAIDE; Post Falls Food Bank; Children’s Village; Safe Passage; CDA Backpack Program; Dogsmile Adventures; Hayden Senior Center; Northwest Infant Survival and SIDS Alliance; Orchard Ridge Senior Living; Rathdrum Lions Club Foundation and the Unique Center for Athletes of All Needs.
The Community Care Fund, created through workplace campaign contributions, is managed by local volunteers serving on Community Impact Councils.
To contribute to the fund, volunteer on a council or apply for funding, visit www.uwnorthidaho.org or call 208-667-8112.