United Way of San Diego County Grants $667,830 from San Diego Worker Assistance Initiative to Five Local Community Organizations


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Initiative has also provided more than $754,326 in direct assistance to low-wage workers in response to COVID-19

SAN DIEGO — (July 23, 2020) — United Way of San Diego County (UWSD) has awarded $667,830 from its San Diego Worker Assistance Initiative to five local community organizations across the region who are supporting low-wage workers amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

The San Diego Worker Assistance Initiative was established by United Way of San Diego County to provide flexible resources to qualified individuals and families who have been the most severely impacted by layoffs and reduced working hours implemented by employers due to COVID-19. As the pandemic progressed and the needs of the community changed, UWSD had to redefine who was in most need. When the CARES Act passed and with the guidance from a major funder, the nonprofit realized San Diegans who did not receive financial assistance would need the most support. To help deliver relief quickly to individuals and families experiencing economic hardship due to COVID-19, UWSD has partnered with organizations around the region who not only have a history of being trusted community leaders, but also serve many individuals who do not file IRS 1040s and are not covered by CARES Act funding. These organizations also have the ability to distribute funds quickly to the members of the community who need it most.

“We’ve been staying informed on the needs of the community and as those needs progressed, we have had to change too,” says president and CEO, Nancy L. Sasaki. “During our 100-year history, we have always been here for those who need additional support, and the current economic crisis is no exception. Through our partnership with these organizations, United Way of San Diego County will continue to deploy dollars to those who need it most urgently, and at a faster rate.”


The following five organizations were selected for this grant due to their extensive efforts during the pandemic and geographic reach:

  • MAAC (Spring Valley): An organization that maximizes self-sufficiency with families and individuals through high-quality programs and advocacy in our underserved communities, MAAC was founded upon a vision to provide a place where local families in need could find the means to self-sufficiency. This nonprofit is based in East County, but has a County-wide footprint and focuses on affordable housing, child development, and economic development.
  • North County Lifeline (Oceanside): This nonprofit’s mission is to build self-reliance among youth, adults, and families through high-quality, community-based services. Its work focuses on housing and self-sufficiency, youth development, domestic violence and human trafficking prevention.
  • Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans (Teralta East): PANA’s mission is to promote the fair treatment and equitable inclusion of refugee communities using organizing to achieve collective impact and policy change. The majority of San Diego’s refugee workers are in the restaurant, hotel, and transportation industries hardest hit by the pandemic. Even with the City of San Diego taking action to halt evictions, foreclosures, and utility shut-offs, people already struggling to make ends meet are now managing reduced work hours or furloughs, school closures, childcare challenges, and food scarcity. Funds from the San Diego Worker Assistance Initiative will support PANA’s emergency COVID-19 fund.
  • San Diego Community College District (Mission Valley East): This nonprofit consists of thousands of students in need who rely on employment while going to school. Many of them are not eligible for CARES Act support.
  • United Domestic Workers (Rolando Village): United Domestic Workers is a union for home care workers, by home care workers. The nonprofit looks after families and cares for community members who need its assistance. Many of them left paid, full-time jobs to do this work, and frequently work more hours than for which they are paid.

Supporting Low-Wage Workers

While the San Diego Worker Assistance Initiative was established in direct response to COVID-19, the goal is to support the community in response to crisis situations and emergencies both now and in the future.

“With absolutely no income coming in or savings left, my family was facing homelessness,” says Lacey Kennedy Cornejo, a recipient of United Way of San Diego County’s Worker Assistance Initiative. “As a mother of two, with a child who has a chronic autoimmune disease that places him at a higher risk for severe health complications, I felt alone. But when I stumbled across the Worker Assistance Initiative, I quickly submitted my application. After weeks of continued stress and denial letters from unemployment and small business loans and grants, we were thrilled to qualify for financial assistance through United Way of San Diego County. The initiative not only helped us keep our home internet active while our children learned the new dynamic of online classes, but also covered part of our SDG&E bill to keep our lights on. These small gifts helped my family at a time when we were scared about what was to come. Although it did not solve all of our problems, it filled our family with so much gratitude, hope and love. My 14-year-old son told us that he felt a little bit better about what the future holds, and with stress being a major factor in his disease, this brought me relief.”

To date, the initiative has provided $754,326 in direct assistance through utilities / rent and mortgage payments to more than 4,460 San Diegans.

“This fund has provided our donors a unique way of giving back directly to support individuals – the low-wage workers who are at the greatest risk of financial ruin, entry to the social services system, and even homelessness without such support. We would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone – individuals, foundations, and local businesses – who generously donated to their fellow San Diegans in need,” says Sasaki.

Find more ways to support our communities in need at www.uwsd.org.



For 100 years, United Way of San Diego County has aligned with partners to address inequities in the region and help underserved communities. United Way’s specialty lies in identifying sustainable, long-term goals and achieving them through leveraging data and partners’ expertise to better understand root causes and putting impactful solutions into action.

United Way’s work, in partnership with others, uses shared goals, innovation and proven practices to transform the lives of children, young adults and families in the San Diego region. United Way focuses on educational milestones, such as kindergarten readiness, third-grade literacy, high school preparation, and college and career pathways. Learn more and get involved by visiting www.uwsd.org, Facebook, Twitter, or by calling (858) 492-2000.