Portage County COVID-19 Relief Fund Recipients


The Portage County COVID-19 Relief Fund, a partnership between the Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin and United Way of Portage County, closes after allocating 100% of the funds raised, with grants totaling $617,856 to organizations in Portage County that addressed urgent community needs during the pandemic, with two final grants to the Salvation Army and Childcaring, Inc.

In March of 2020, United Way and the Community Foundation partnered to establish the Portage County COVID-19 Relief Fund (PCCRF). The fund was created to provide flexible resources to organizations assisting individuals disproportionately impacted by coronavirus and the economic consequences of the outbreak.

Over the past two years, 19 organizations in Portage County have received funding. These local organizations championed a wide variety of community issues including food insecurity, childcare assistance, education interruptions, employment reductions, housing vulnerabilities, and more.

“This fund was a great partnership between our two organizations at a time when the community needed us the most,” said Sue Wilcox, Executive Director, United Way of Portage County. “Thanks to over 240 individual and corporate donors that supported this fund, we were able to quickly help our family, friends, and neighbors in need.”

A committee comprised of volunteers and staff members from each organization was established to evaluate grant requests. Funding decisions made were based on the highest area of need determined through ongoing communications with non-profit agencies and social sector organizations.

“Childcare was an area with significant needs throughout the past two years,” said Jenny Riggenbach, CEO, Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin. “We felt it was important to fund Childcaring, Inc. with one of our last grants because of the staffing shortages happening in childcare. This grant will support staff recruitment and retention grants to the regulated childcare programs in Portage County.”

“CAP Services was pleased to partner with our local United Way and Community Foundation to help distribute timely resources from the COVID-19 Relief Fund to community members who experienced financial hardship as a result of the pandemic,” said Nicole Harrison, President and CEO of CAP Services. “At the onset of the public health emergency when financial uncertainty impacted families, businesses, and even community service providers, the COVID-19 Relief Fund made it possible for CAP to provide direct relief to households.”

The Salvation Army received the other grant from the last round of funding to assist families and individuals struggling with rent and utility payments. The grant helped prevent families from becoming homeless or facing eviction.

Among the largest recipients of PCCRF funding was Operation Bootstrap. “The immediate response of the community to the needs of so many was simply amazing,” said Operation Bootstrap Executive Director, Roseann DeBot. “The COVID Relief Fund was a huge help in Operation Bootstrap's ability to say "yes " to those numerous urgent needs. We are so grateful.”

The teams at United Way and the Foundation would like to thank all of the generous individuals and businesses that contributed to this fund in support of community members during their greatest time of need.