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UW Credit Union launches $1.5 million fund to address racial disparities in Madison, Milwaukee

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UW Credit Union announced today in a press release that it will invest $1.5 million to address racial inequities in Madison and Milwaukee through a new fund launched in partnership with United Way of Dane County and United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County.

According to the press release, the UW Credit Union Fund for Racial Equity will seek to address the barriers to economic mobility for people of color, with “a focused goal of funding transformational programming solutions in Dane, Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee and/or Washington counties.” The fund will specifically target programs that increase financial stability and improve educational outcomes.

“The UW Credit Union Fund for Racial Equity is an extension of our brand mission, “Here for Every You,” Sheila Milton, UW Credit Union Vice President of Diversity Equity, and Inclusion, said in a written statement. “This fund is about investing in our neighbors in a tangible, meaningful way. This includes improving the financial wellbeing and capability of our Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) community members.”

The investment totals $1 million for Dane County, where most UW Credit Union members reside, and $500,000 for the greater Milwaukee area. In addition to focused initiatives that address racial equity, the new fund will also support emergency grants totaling $250,000 across both markets. Emergency funds will assist with COVID-19 relief efforts for underserved communities and help provide a buffer against future crises, so that nonprofits can respond with immediate resources.

“The pandemic has brought increased attention to the racial disparities that have always existed in our communities,” United Way of Dane County CEO Renee Moe said in a statement. “Communities of color have been hit the hardest – our Black and Latino friends and neighbors are experiencing pandemic-related hardships at nearly twice the rate of the rest of our community. For over three decades, United Way has centered on racial disparities and the work needed to address inequities, but this level of funding and flexibility is a game-changer. And in partnering with our United Way Foundation in making this gift, UW Credit Union has set another example in how they creatively address community needs.”

According to the press release, traditional funding models often reward well-resourced organizations that can spend ample time on funding applications as well as non-profits with existing financial investors, and “UW Credit Union seeks to overcome that dynamic through a simplified, equitable process that makes funding more attainable.”

In addition to opening the application process with a brief quiz to determine eligibility, the unique funding model shifts the decision-making to a community advisory board comprised of community members and representative UW Credit Union employees, the press release says.

“Purposefully addressing racial equity should be a priority for all funders,” Nicole Angresano, Vice President of Community Impact, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County, said in a statement. “With this generous investment from UW Credit Union, we will invest in community-defined and community-led solutions to address employment inequities in ways that will promote economic transformation.”

Beginning March 17, interested applicants can apply for funding directly. Local organizations are encouraged to visit www.uwcu.org/racialequity in advance to learn more. While applicants are not limited to United Way agencies, geographically they must serve Dane, Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee, or Washington Counties. Beyond the monetary investment, UW Credit Union will support grant recipients with volunteer hours and financial education resources, the press release says.

UW Credit Union is also a major sponsor of Madison365 and 365 Media’s Wisconsin Leadership Summit.