Our Disaster Relief Fund is part of a covenant—a covenant between the UUA and congregations, between congregations who give generously and those in need, and with our community partners. Through aiding our congregations, their members and their community partners, we are able to embody our faith and values.
Texas Winter Weather Crisis
The UUA and our Southern Region staff are working diligently to assist UU congregations and their communities impacted by the severe winter weather and extended power outages across Texas. With many communities under an advisory to boil any water for consumption, the First UU Church of Houston agreed to be a distribution center. When the City of Houston ran out of water before the church received its allocation, UUA disaster relief funds covered the cost for fifteen pallets of water to be delivered. A disaster relief grant has been awarded to the San Marcos UU Fellowship to bolster a community effort to house and feed those experiencing homelessness. More grants are expected be awarded in the coming days as new applications are received.
Additionally, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee is tapping its disaster relief funds to aid a number of their partner organizations in Texas.
Disasters impact our congregations and their communities with increasing rapidity. From natural disasters like wildfires that scorch everything in their path and hurricanes that bring destruction through winds and water, to human caused disasters like the collapsing infrastructure that we’ve seen in Flint, our congregations, our people, and our communities sustain the impact. Your donation to the UUA Disaster Relief Fund allows the UUA to respond flexibly on your behalf to tragedies that overtake us.
With your donations, we are able to provide assistance to congregations, their members, and their communities. Some of the expenses Disaster Relief Fund grants can be used for are:
Damage to congregations’ buildings, and relocation to temporary locations
Damage to members/friends homes, and relocation expenses
Donations to local partner organizations that serve the community at large, particularly those who would not be eligible for other funding
Grants related to the COVID-19 Pandemic
With the Declaration of a National Emergency as meeting the FEMA standard of declaration of a Major Disaster, the Coronavirus meets all the stated criteria of the Disaster Relief Fund. In light of the scope of this National Emergency, however, additional guidance and criteria are necessary to ensure that the impact of these grants best reflect our UU Values and a priority of needs. These criteria may adapt over time as the scope of the need and the availability of resources change.
Additional guidance and criteria for the awarding of Disaster Relief Fund grants related to the COVID-19 Pandemic:
- Priority is given to grants to congregations and other related Unitarian Universalist organizations who are responding to the crisis with systemic, collaborative approaches, such as partnering with local organizations to provide assistance in the congregation’s local community to people who are at significant risk to health and livelihood because of COVID-19.
- Grants should not be given, at this time, to assist congregations and other UU related institutions due to reduction in sources of income (such as reductions in pledging, rental income, etc.)
- Grants should not be given, at this time, to assist congregations and other UU related institutions with unplanned costs due to COVID-19 (such as maintenance, cleaning, or technology issues).
- Grants to support collaborative and community partnerships of a congregation should be no more than $5,000 per grant. A Congregation can request a renewal of a grant for community programs each month, with priority given to new requests. (These funding levels may shift depending on the amount of COVID-19 related donations received).
- Grants from the Disaster Relief Fund should not be given to support Congregational Staff of Unitarian Universalist Congregations. These requests should be referred to the Living Tradition Fund.
The application process is simple and can happen at any time during the recovery process. We know that long after the initial clean-up, recovery can take months or years.
Questions about applying for a Disaster Relief Fund grant, including eligibility related to the COVID-19 pandemic, can be sent to Lisa Presley, Congregational Life Consultant, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How Will Donations Be Disbursed?
Staff from all five UUA regions and the Stewardship and Development department work together to expediently review applicationsand disburse funds. Congregations and recognized UU non-profit entities receiving grants will have discretion to disburse the grant in the way they choose. Read how some Disaster Relief Fund grants have been used.
The Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice (UUCSJ) organizes volunteers to help with some in-person disaster relief efforts. If you would like to volunteer, please fill out their online form and someone will be in touch with you.