Essential Funds for Essential Needs


A private family foundation has donated $50,000 to United Way of Cascade County’s COVID-19 Response & Recovery Fund to be given as $500 checks to 100 local individuals and families impacted by the coronavirus and economic slowdown that followed.

The foundation, which chooses to stay anonymous, will donate another $50,000 if the community donates a matching amount, which would help a total of 300 households in Cascade County. Called Essential Funds for Essential Needs, the program is open to anyone living in Cascade County who can demonstrate direct financial hardship due to the current pandemic-related economic conditions.

There isn’t an income threshold, but applications will be weighted to prioritize families with children under age 18, minority households and essential workers. While many government programs limit what assistance can be spent on, these private dollars can be spent on families’ greatest needs.

Applications must be dropped off by 4 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 6, at a secure drop box located at Opportunities Inc., 905 1st Ave. N. Anyone with extenuating circumstances who cannot drop off their application, can call 868-0004.

To print an application, click here. Or if you don't have access to a printer, paper applications are available at Opportunities Inc., 905 1st Ave. N.

Opportunities Inc. staff will review all applications before drawing 100 names to be awarded $500. People will be notified if they are to receive the money, which will be given out by Dec. 1.

“We’re calling this program Essential Funds for Essential Needs because our community has many critical needs that aren’t being met right now,” United Way President Gary Owen said. “Many families are struggling, many have seen their paychecks and savings shrink since March. This donation will help 100 families, but we know many more are in need.”

Opportunities Inc. Executive Director Karla Seaman has seen how COVID-19 has impacted Cascade County families as more people are coming in the nonprofits’ doors seeking help paying for food, rent and utilities.

“Many families, particularly essential workers, are struggling to pay increased costs for food and childcare. Others have lost wages while in quarantine. Rent bills that were temporarily on hold are coming due,” she said.

Owen hopes community support will open the doors to hundreds more families being awarded Essential Funds for Essential Needs dollars. The private family foundation is covering all administration costs, so every donated dollar will go to people in need.

Anyone who wants to donate to the Essential Needs for Essential Needs program can click here or can send money to United Way at P.O. Box 1343, Great Falls, 59403.