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Mary Miller and her colleagues at the United Way of South Hampton Roads have been working to deepen our understanding of community needs and build effective nonprofit and business sector partnerships to meet them. Read her insights and initial data points here and submit any questions you may have in this forum.

Mary will be on hand Friday, April 17 at 1 PM to provide answers, so check back then or any time after to hear her thoughts.  
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Steve Harrison Steve
Mary, thank you so much for joining us on the 757 Recovery Forum this afternoon!  We greatly appreciate the work United Way of South Hampton Roads has played in lifting our community up through this difficult time!  What are some specific ways the UWSHR is leveraging partnerships currently to meet the needs of the community? Do you have any success stories you’d like to share that can be an example for future collaboration?
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Mary
Thanks, Steve! Glad to be here and share our work. 

As for partnerships, we're lucky to have a great team who work across many sectors. We've certainly leveraged our community investment partners, those organizations that we support via grant-making, and were able to quickly coordinate early calls and convening meetings with those partners to watch how the crisis was impacting the social services and supports available in our region. Our initial calls were a bit premature for capturing data (as many of those partners were still in places of uncertainty) but certainly helped establish lines of communication that we have maintained. Our team is primarily working with partners in community-based organizations, healthcare, and public health-- and trying to leverage and coordinate efforts across partners while letting those with expertise and leadership do what they do best. (For example, the Foodbank of Southeast Virginia and Eastern Shore has been coordinating food pantry distributions, but we were able to offer support by mapping the sites where schools are offering meals to students and families.)
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Steve Harrison Steve
That's great to hear!  I've certainly seen a lot of great work done by the Foodbanks in the 757 region.  In addition to what you're already seeing, how can nonprofits be of most help to the for-profit business community during this time, and vice-versa?
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Mary
Great question-- I've seen a lot of valuable collaboration already, we've had non-profit partners contacting businesses for support on decision-making, supply orders (such as diapers or materials for our childcare providers), and philanthropy.

As for how non-profits can support our for-profit business partners, I think many people are interested in ways they can help our community respond and recover, and businesses may be looking for ways to support their employees. As community needs are so complex and interrelated, non-profits are often well-versed in the most efficient ways to achieve population-level improvement. I'd encourage those partners to reach out to conveners like UWSHR or non-profit leaders to determine how any work have the greatest impact. 
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Steve Harrison Steve
Excellent points!  To that end, what kinds of community data are you paying particular attention to as this crisis continues to unfold?  What are the best indicators of community nee?  What may be some harbingers of recovery?
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Amy Jordan ajordan
Mary, I know many nonprofits are challenged by the lack of charitable donations yet their services are needed more than ever. What advice can you give nonprofits during this time?  
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Mary
There are some population-level indicators that many of our partners had prioritized as critical needs in our region (food insecurity, transportation, access to healthcare providers, household income, chronic health conditions), all of which are certainly relevant to the impact of the crisis. As we engage with individuals calling our hotline, we're documenting services requested (i.e. food distribution, housing) and geographic location-- the work is certainly ongoing, but preliminary data is giving us insight into how unemployment or compounding social needs are surfacing. I see housing, food access, and employment as some of the biggest needs right now.

As for harbingers of recovery-- it's difficult to say. I do think we're beginning to feel less reactive as we have case management workflows and partnership communication lines in place, but we're still interested to see how things progress as initial recovery efforts connect people to services and secondary needs (or previously existing disparities) shake out. I know I'll feel more comfortable once we've established more forward-thinking, collaborative approaches towards improving self-sufficiency for our neighbors most in need. 
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Mary
Mary, I know many nonprofits are challenged by the lack of charitable donations yet their services are needed more than ever. What advice can you give nonprofits during this time?  


Amy-- great question and certainly one I think all of our non-profits are trying to answer right now, particularly as fundraising events are postponed or canceled and donors may be feeling financially effected by the crisis. 

As a nonprofit, we've focused some of our resource development on applying for grants related to COVID-19 response. We've been reaching out to funders to provide updates on how any workflows or projects have changed-- and have been grateful to see that most funders have responded with compassion and a willingness to support, whether that means extending project deadlines or freeing up project-specific grant funding for COVID-19 efforts. I also think times of crisis are where our nonprofits can emphasize their strengths-- our work is needed now more than ever, so we're pursuing new partners and calling on existing donors to renew their support as they are able. 
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Mary
Mary, I know many nonprofits are challenged by the lack of charitable donations yet their services are needed more than ever. What advice can you give nonprofits during this time?  


Also-- I'd be happy to invite someone from our RD team to jump in and respond, or you can email me at mmiller@unitedwayshr.org and I'll get you to the right person! 🙂 
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Steve Harrison Steve
Thanks Mary!  I’m particularly interested in how this crisis is going to impact the ALICE population — specifically, have you seen any current data or future projections regarding how much this population will grow as a result of COVID-19?
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Mary
Steve-- We've been looking at what we already know and thinking through how it might play out long term. We know that the majority of the US population does not have savings, meaning they live paycheck-to-paycheck with nothing to fall back on. Debt will increase quickly, and there will likely be a sliding effect in which those who currently classify as ALICE (earning above the poverty level, but still paycheck-to-paycheck) will move below the federal poverty level, making them qualify for government assistance but be even further from self-sufficiency. Those who were on the brink of the ALICE threshold will become part of the ALICE population as they deplete savings or increase their debt. Overall, we anticipate a higher number of households will classify as meeting or below the ALICE threshold. 
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Steve Harrison Steve
I am sure you're right.  Also, how will COVID impact who qualifies as ALICE moving forward? For example, a lot of ALICE have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Does the fact that they are unemployed now disqualify them, or will there be amendments to how this population is classified?
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Mary
No, unemployment would not disqualify someone or change how the population is classified. While the acronym itself includes "employed," whether someone or their household is classified as "ALICE" is really determined by income level. As we assess income, the range necessitates some level of income/earnings that aligns with self-sufficiency threshold (how much it costs to live in a particular area), and that threshold won't change. Again, this will probably reflect most in the "trickle down" effect across the population when unemployment causes households to fall into lower income brackets than they had previously been. 
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Steve Harrison Steve
Ok thats good to know.  Mary, thank you again so much for being here and sharing your insight both on your blog and in the forum!  I would encourage everyone to visit your website, http://www.ghrconnects.org, for the best data about the community and COVID community resources.  Thanks again to you and United Way of South Hampton Roads for helping us both today and every day! 
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Mary
Thank you for having me-- it's been great to share and learn from everyone here. If anyone has additional or future questions, please feel free to connect with me here on the forum or email me over at mmiller@unitedwayshr.org
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