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Press Release

United Way Launches LIVE UNITED Initiative to Support Communities’ Recovery from COVID-19 Pandemic

ALEXANDRIA, VA, June 1, 2021 – Today, United Way announced the launch of the Live United Initiative, an eight-week initiative to help communities everywhere continue on the path of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.  At the helm of this effort are Seattle Seahawk Superbowl Champion and 2020 Walter Peyton Man of the Year, Russell Wilson and his wife, Grammy award-winning artist Ciara. The two founded the Why Not You Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to education, children’s health and fighting poverty, while empowering today’s youth to lead with a why not you attitude.

The Live United Initiative is a multi-channel, digital initiative that will highlight the global work of United Way, and engage millions of people around the world in reimagining and rebuilding strong, equitable communities in the wake of COVID-19.

While United Way, the world’s largest privately-funded nonprofit, raised an unprecedented amount of money last year that helped 27 million cope with COVID-19, the pandemic’s multiple waves around the world—most recently in India—are a reminder that recovery is a long-term undertaking. More than 225 million jobs have been lost globally, educators and parents worry about learning loss, especially for low-income children of color, and United Ways are still fielding record requests for help getting food and health care.

“Ciara and I are proud to serve as co-chairs for this initiative because COVID-19 and the effects from it are far from over,” said Russell Wilson. “Rebuilding isn’t a matter of going back to where we were. It’s reimagining how we can be better and building towards that – UNITED.”

“We are proud to join with United Way for the Live United Initiative so that we can help every person have an equal opportunity to succeed. Strong communities need strong United Ways and strong children with a ‘why not you’ attitude,” added Ciara.

The Live United Initiative Co-Chairs recorded a special video message introducing this inaugural initiative. Please see the message here.

Experts say long-term recovery may lag, but the impact on vulnerable communities is likely to be more entrenched and difficult to address. The pandemic exposed systemic racial and ethnic inequities by exacerbating pre-existing challenges faced by the most vulnerable: ethnic and racial minorities, the very young and the aged, and those who were barely scraping by.

“The pandemic has reinforced the importance of finding equitable solutions to global problems and that solution is found in United Way’s mission: we galvanize the caring power of communities. But we do not do it alone. It is only with the help of leaders in every community, like Ciara and Russell Wilson, who now join us in our effort to Live United,” said Neeraj Mehta, Interim President and CEO, United Way Worldwide. “Please join us in our commitment to make life better for every person in every community and be a leader in your own community.”

In the wake of COVID, United Way has stepped up in many ways, including $1 billion raised to support communities globally, $18 million raised to support 2.5 million people in Black communities in the U.S., 33.2 million meals served, 109,000 households received help with rent or mortgage and 852,000 individuals received health supplies or services. Please see United Way’s full COVID: One Year Later  report here. United Way’s most recent COVID relief efforts focus on raising funds to support India’s second COVID crisis. 

The examples below highlight how United Way has shown up to provide relief in communities around the world:

211: The non-emergency helpline has been a lynch pin in COVID response and recovery.  211 helped millions access the services they need. From eviction prevention, to COVID testing, to providing last mile delivery of food.

Education: COVID exposed a digital divide through the move to virtual schooling. United Way has worked to provide laptops, tablets and Wi-Fi to students and families. United Way also spearheaded the mask challenge helping to distribute over 28 million masks to Title 1 schools in all 50 states to help children and teachers return safely to the classroom.

Health: In North America, 211 is playing a critical role in to provide information about COVID 19 testing and vaccination sites. Additionally, In India, United Ways continue to focus on supplying PPE, hand sanitizing stations and ventilators to local healthcare providers.  And United Way Nigeria has supported urban, peri-urban and underserved communities by providing food, personal hygiene supplies and guidance on avoiding infection.

Financial Stability: United Way has helped thousands, including those experiencing homelessness, access their COVID stimulus payments through an Economic Impact Stimulus hotline and 211.

To learn more about United Way and the Live United Initiative and to donate, please visit:

About United Way
United Way fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in every community. With global reach and local impact, we’re making life better for 48 million people annually. United Way is the world's largest privately funded nonprofit, working in 95% of U.S. communities and 40 countries and territories. That’s why we’re the mission of choice for 2.5 million volunteers, 7.7 million donors and 45,000 corporate partners. In the wake of COVID-19, we’re helping people stay in their homes, stock their pantries, and protect their lives and livelihoods. And we’re working to build resilient, equitable communities. Learn more at Follow us: @United Way and #LiveUnited.

Media Contact

Southerlyn Reisig
Director of External Communications 
(703) 836-7882