The Iowa Credit Union League Foundation has raised just over $688,000 from businesses and individuals for its statewide Emergency Relief Fund, the organization announced. Of that amount, the foundation has distributed an initial 1,000 direct-relief cash grants of $500 each to families or small business owners who are experiencing financial hardship. About 10% of the $500,000 in grants were made to small business owners across the state.

The foundation has made contributions of $25,000 each from the relief fund to two community organizations: the first to United Way of Central Iowa in support of its 2-1-1 Call Center and the second to the Iowa Community Action Association, which through its foundation provides local cash support to families in need of immediate assistance.

More than 11,000 applications from eligible credit union members were received within just a few days of launching the emergency fund, which was far more demand than the foundation expected, said Jaimie Miller, executive director of the ICUL Foundation.

Aggregated data from the applications received provides a snapshot of not only the tremendous financial needs arising from the COVID-19 shutdown, but also a glimpse into the challenges facing these residents, Miller said.

The data from the grant applications shows that, due to COVID-19:
– 58% of applicants have lost employment.
– 51% of applicants are unable to afford their rent or mortgage.
– 46% of applicants are unable to afford their utility bill.
– 41% of applicants are facing food insecurity.
– 28% of individual applicants do not qualify for any other assistance programs.
– 42% of business applicants have currently closed their business.
– 24% of business applicants are not eligible for other government assistance programs.

“We think that there is important information to share with communities as they are creating their own response plans, so that’s really why we wanted to make sure to share the numbers,” Miller said.

Nearly 10% of the applications received were from Greater Des Moines residents, she noted.

A breakout of data from those applications showed a similar pattern — 52% of applicants locally had lost employment, while 50% said they were unable to afford their rent or mortgage payment. Among Greater Des Moines small business owners locally that applied, 38% have currently closed their business, and 25% said they are not eligible for other government assistance programs.

The foundation plans to continue accepting donations for the relief fund through at least the end of April, in an effort to raise and distribute as much funding as possible. Several hundred more direct-relief grants should go out this week, Miller said.

“We have been trying to communicate to folks who have applied or reached out to us about other programs that are still available for funding or still providing assistance,” Miller said. “We’ve committed to continue to fund-raise as much as we can to meet the needs of these folks who have applied for the program.”

For more information about the ICUF Emergency Relief Fund and to donate, click here.