Union Benevolent Association shifts funding priorities

Union Benevolent Association (UBA), a Philadelphia-based philanthropic foundation, has announced it has changed its funding priorities to better focus on alleviating the burden of poverty. Beginning with its fall 2018 grant cycle, the organization will target its charitable giving to organizations that help Philadelphia’s poorest residents meet basic needs.  The organization will also increase its maximum grant from $5,000 to $10,000. 

According to Sigrid Lundby, President of UBA’s Board of Managers, the changes to the foundation’s funding priorities and grant size reflect the board’s recognition that the vanishing safety net means that far too many Philadelphians struggle on a daily basis to obtain the basic necessities for survival.

Philadelphia is the nation’s poorest big city and has the highest rate of deep poverty -- that is, people whose income is below half of the federal poverty level.  Roughly one in five Philadelphians suffer from food insecurity and the number of homeless individuals living on the streets is rising, increasing 10 percent over last year, according to the results of the city’s annual count.

To help address these issues, UBA will provide grants to organizations that provide shelter, food and clothing as well as other basic necessities including but not limited to:

• Assistance in obtaining identification documents such as birth certificates and State Photo ID;
• The provision of post office boxes for those who lack an address;
• Hygiene products and other toiletries.

According to Lundby, the funding changes are also a return to UBA’s roots.  The foundation was established in 1831 to assist the suffering poor of Philadelphia by providing money, food, clothing and medicine during an unusually harsh winter. Unlike many of the city’s alms houses at the time, UBA provided money, food, clothing, and medicine to families all around the city, regardless of race, religion, or nationality.

Over the years, UBA began funding a far broader array of initiatives including education and youth development programs. “While the board acknowledges and respects the incredible work being done by the organizations we have funded in the past, we feel that as a small foundation, we can have a greater impact on alleviating the burden of poverty by offering larger grants with a more narrow focus,” said Lundby.

In addition to narrowing its focus and offering larger grants, UBA will also provide unrestricted funding to its grantees. “Many nonprofits doing important work are struggling to keep the doors open because they receive no general operating funds.  We want to support organizations that demonstrate strong impact by allowing them to utilize funding in ways that will allow them to pursue their mission most effectively,” says Lundby.

UBA’s next grant cycle will open on August 31, 2018 and will reflect changes to the funding priorities and maximum grant size. For more information, visit here.

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Union Benevolent Association provides has provided critical funding and support to organizations that assist and enrich the lives of vulnerable and disadvantaged Philadelphians since 1831.   In recent years, the foundation has also begun providing an annual targeted grant to provide timely support addressing emergency issues impacting Philadelphia residents.


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