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Basic Needs Grants

Basic needs like food, shelter, and access to health care are the first step to identifying the complex, long-term issues families with young children face that require collaborative solutions.

Since 2018, thirty percent of the CORE Fund has been allocated to support individual agency, 18-month Basic Needs program grants. These essential programs are valuable entry points for families and are a key part of our CORE Collaborative Approach. 
The grant cycle for our 2019 Basic Needs grant recipients ends in December 2020. Unfortunately, we are unable to open a new Basic Needs grants process at this time. 
The social and economic impacts of COVID-19 present challenges for us all. One way that United Way is feeling the impact is with shifts in funding priorities and a decrease in overall giving. Unfortunately, we currently do not have the funding capacity to continue the same level of community investment for both individual program grants and collaborative grants. 
Since the launch of CORE in 2018, we have worked closely with our basic needs partners to integrate their programs and services into the collaborative model over time. Today, all of our CORE Collaboratives include partners who provide important basic needs services
United Way of Snohomish County is committed to sustaining, at minimum, the same level of community investments into our CORE Collaboratives because long-term systemic change requires long-term funding.
Please see below for answers to additional questions you may have.
Why not lessen community investments into both basic needs and collaborative grants overall? 
Due to our community’s changing philanthropic landscape and the current impact of COVID-19, our revenue has declined and, as a result, we reduced our staffing and overall organizational expenses. Because we had existing grant commitments through December 2020, we prioritized these agreements to meet 100% of our grant obligations and funding was not reduced.  
As we look to 2021 and beyond, there is uncertainty in this new fundraising environment. As a practice, we do not extend grant agreements unless we feel confident our fundraising projections ensure we have the fiscal capacity to meet them.  
In the CORE Collaborative model, United Way of Snohomish County is no longer simply a funder. Our CORE approach convenes over 100 cross-sector partners truly working in new, collaborative ways. We are both a funder and active partner with the CORE Collaboratives, providing shared learning opportunities, technical assistance, data management, trainings, and most importantly, a commitment to being on this worthwhile journey together. 
At a minimum, this means we must sustain our current investment into the CORE Collaboratives. We believe in CORE and that by removing barriers for young children and their families, we can help to create more equitable systems for generations to come.
How are basic needs services integrated into the collaborative model?
When families connect with a Collaborative, the first step is to ensure all members of the family have their basic needs met. At intake, Collaborative partners meet with the family to understand the household’s stability in these areas: housing, health, food access, transportation, income, and childcare. Based on the family’s goals, the Collaborative works with each family to address these areas and the intersections between them.  
For some families, this looks like moving from “couch surfing” with others to stabilizing housing through a hotel voucher until shelter or transitional options are available. For others, the Collaborative assists with applying for public benefits like Basic Food and Apple Health. With each family, the approach is tailored to their unique needs so that the children and adults in the household can begin to think about their mid-to-long term goals.
See this updated list of partners for each of our CORE Collaboratives.
What financial impact will this discontinued funding have on the current program grantees (2019-2020)?
Grant amounts vary by agency. For some, the awarded grants represent a small portion of an agency’s program budget. For others, it can represent large portions of their operational expenses. The funding structure of basic needs programs and services vary widely.
We know that the economic impacts of COVID-19 have financial implications, particularly for nonprofits. As a nonprofit, United Way is feeling this, as well. While we do not have funds available outside of our collaborative grants, United Way is committed to working with current grantees to look for other funding opportunities to help lessen the financial burden. 
Will basic need programs be eligible for CORE Collaborative funding?
Yes, each CORE Collaborative receives funding to support outcomes in the five areas of a Two-Generation approach: 1) economic assets, which includes basic needs, 2) post-secondary education & employment, 3) early learning, 4) health & wellbeing, and 5) social capital. Collaborative partners work together to set a shared budget and funding priorities within this framework. All services and contributions from Collaborative partners may be considered eligible for funding within their models, including private and public entities.  
Will grant funding be available to agencies for basic need programs in 2021?
United Way’s community investments have always been contingent on the dollars we are able to fundraise. United Way of Snohomish County’s board of directors will continue to monitor revenue and set funding strategy to support our mission and vision. Any future grant opportunities would be within the context of supporting young children and their families in Snohomish County.
Does United Way of Snohomish County have a COVID-19 relief fund?
No. We are a partner in the Snohomish County Coronavirus Response Fund, hosted by Community Foundation of Snohomish County. The CORE Collaboratives have received funding through this effort given the increased need for basic needs services for families in the CORE Collaboratives. Learn more on this page of Frequently Asked Questions.
Visit All in WA for more on the statewide COVID-19 relief efforts. 
You can also find COVID-19 Resources here.


For questions about grant investment, please contact Molly Fay-Cruz, Director of Impact & Investment, at or 425.374.5513.