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Consumers Energy Foundation Announces $500,000 Grant Supporting Most Vulnerable Affected By COVID-19

(March 19, 2020 9:21 AM) The Consumers Energy Foundation is supporting two statewide organizations with a $500,000 contribution to help enhance critical services for Michigan children, vulnerable seniors and those who may need assistance in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For many, the coronavirus pandemic is more than just a disruption to daily life. Families with kids who are food insecure, the elderly and those who live paycheck to paycheck are especially vulnerable. With schools and businesses closed and many grocery store shelves left bare, local nonprofits are playing a critical role in helping those in need. Consumers Energy is privileged to provide additional support to these key organizations that will support numerous vital services to help those most affected,” said Brandon Hofmeister, president of the Consumers Energy Foundation.

The Food Bank Council of Michigan and the Michigan Association of United Ways will each receive $250,000, Hofmeister said.

The Food Bank Council of Michigan will distribute its $250,000 contribution to its regional food bank network to fill gaps where schools are unable to provide food for children, vulnerable seniors and the anticipated growing need that will surface as more people cannot work due to COVID-19 but still need food for their families.     

“Nothing of significance ever happens alone. Times like these mean we not only should but must come together,” said Phil Knight, executive director of the Food Bank Council of Michigan. “A friend is someone who walks in when the rest of the world walks out. Consumers Energy walked in big time.”

The Michigan Association of United Ways (MAUW) will share the funding with United Way organizations located in Consumers Energy service areas that have set up or are deploying emergency response activities in local communities. Many United Ways are partnering with community foundations and other local funding sources to address needs related to COVID-19, including support for the 2-1-1 system, ensuring the needs of vulnerable populations are met, and helping provide sustainability to nonprofits so the organizations can continue addressing basic needs. 

“Michigan families know that in times of crisis and uncertainty, United Way will be there to support them, and this crisis is no different. United Ways across Michigan are mobilizing financial and human capital, leveraging public-private partnerships, and working in unison with Michigan 2-1-1 to provide vital information and resources to support ALICE families – those who are working, but struggling to make ends meet, and protect the most vulnerable in our communities. Now and always, United Ways are doing what we do best – coordinating community partners, responding to emerging needs, and adapting our role to best serve all Michigan residents,” said Michael Larson, president and CEO of Michigan Association of United Ways.

Consumers Energy has also enhanced its Matching Gifts Program focusing on matching employee contributions to food banks/pantries, homeless shelters, community foundations and the United Way. Through May 31, 2020, donations from CMS and Consumers Energy employees will be matched without restriction. 

Earlier this week, Consumers Energy also announced the suspension of shut-offs for non-pay for low-income and senior customers through April 5, 2020, with the possibility of adjusting that timeframe depending on the spread and severity of COVID-19. Senior citizens and qualified low-income customers already enrolled in the Winter Protection Program have extended end dates through May 3, 2020.

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