United Way

National Grid issues challenge match to help United Way of Mass Bay.

Lowell – The National Grid Foundation is responding to the urgency of families unable to make ends meet in the prolonged economic crisis, by contributing $60,000 to the United Way of Massachusetts Bay & Merrimack Valley to help local families stay warm this winter, the Unity Way and National Grid Foundation announced today.

Although the United Way supported 10,000 families with basic needs last year, it was unable to respond to 4,000 cases due to a lack of resources.  Responding to the need, the National Grid Foundation’s 2011 investment is significantly higher than last year and is presented as a matching challenge to the community to help provide emergency fuel assistance for more local families.

The National Grid Foundation is leveraging web and social media to galvanize the additional support for families in crisis. In collaboration with United Way of Massachusetts Bay & Merrimack Valley, the National Grid Foundation is launching an online action center at: http://www.chooseyourimpact.org/NationalGridFoundation.

On this site, residents can help Massachusetts households on the verge of financial crisis afford heat and other basic needs.  Visitors can also help to advocate for the cause, by spreading the word, or volunteering to help families in crisis.

United Way estimates that $20 can keep a local family’s heat on for a day in the dead of winter.  Individuals wishing to help a family in need can visit http://www.chooseyourimpact.org/NationalGridFoundation to give, advocate or volunteer.

“We wanted to do everything possible to ensure that families don’t have to choose between staying warm and paying other bills this winter,” said National Grid Foundation Board of Directors Member Carmen Fields.  “We are asking the community to join us in this effort.  For every dollar contributed to keeping residents across this region warm, the National Grid Foundation will match up to $60,000 in donations.”

“The National Grid Foundation recognizes, as we do, that helping families through this recession will require support from every level of the community,” said Michael K. Durkin, president of United Way of Massachusetts Bay & Merrimack Valley. It is setting a tremendous example by nearly doubling its commitment to local families this year when so many people are struggling to meet basic needs.”

In 2010, United Way’s 2-1-1 hotline received more than 67,800 calls for help, the vast majority of these calls requested assistance with housing or utility bills. National Grid Foundation’s investment will provide hundreds of families with emergency grants that can help them afford their heating bills, regardless of the type of heating fuel used.

Providing heating assistance and other basic needs is a component of United Way’s Family Financial Stability Fund, a comprehensive, community-driven campaign to help families affected by the recession out of financial crisis and toward financial stability.

About National Grid Foundation

The National Grid Foundation was created to enhance the quality of life in areas where National Grid provides services.  Its objective is based on the principle that giving people the tools to build hope is an essential ingredient in the development of individuals, families and communities.  Since its inception in December of 1998, the Foundation has provided more than $15 million in grants to hundreds of organizations

About United Way of Massachusetts Bay & Merrimack Valley

One of the region’s largest nonprofits, United Way’s work ensures that children enter school ready to learn, youth stay engaged in school so they graduate with options for the future, and parents attain financial stability. No other single organization has the scope, expertise and influence to bring together hundreds of human services agencies, government, businesses, private foundations and dedicated volunteers around a common vision of creating maximum impact and achieving long-lasting results. In the next year United Way will serve 23,000 children in quality early care and education programs, provide 138,000 youth with positive after-school experiences, and help 15,000 families obtain marketable job skills.