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Published: Wednesday, 2/11/2009

2 nonprofits unite to weave safety net for needy


Two Toledo organizations are looking to provide an extra safety net for low-income families in the region.

The nonprofit Toledo Community Foundation and United Way of Greater Toledo announced yesterday that they have created the Safety Net Fund to aid groups that provide food, clothing, and shelter to those in need. The organizations will match donations up to $2,000 with 50 cents for each dollar contributed to the fund.

Keith Burwell, Toledo Community Foundation president, said the groups are responding to the economic turmoil that has left thousands in the region without jobs and has caused more people to turn to social service agencies.

"We are under no illusion that what we are creating here is going to fill the entire gap," said Mr. Burwell, whose organization dates to 1973 and has more than 450 funds and about $138 million in assets. "We are just trying to do our part on the front end of this."

Mr. Burwell said the fund roll-out is timed to give the community's social service programs a chance to determine what they'll need as the economy deteriorates. Nonprofit agencies will have a chance, through an expedited grant program, to apply to the Safety Net Fund.

The Toledo Community Foundation and United Way of Greater Toledo have set aside $200,000 to help food, clothing, and shelter services. Mr. Burwell said all money given to the Safety Net Fund will be go to grants for nonprofits and that no money will be spent on overhead.

"Every dollar pledged is going to be used properly," said Mr. Burwell, who added that agencies receiving money from the fund will be scrutinized closely.

Bill Kitson, United Way of Greater Toledo's president and CEO, said it was natural for the agencies to unite for this fund. He said donations would be one way that people can help those in need of assistance because of the economy.

"What this money is designed to do is to help those agencies that are the front line of social services," Mr. Kitson said.

To learn more or to donate, go to toledocf.org or call 419-241-5049.

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