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CHAMPAIGN — The United Way of Champaign County is receiving $250,000 from the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund’s first round of grants.

The fund created late last month has raised more than $28 million from nearly 2,000 donors around the state. In this first round, it’s distributing more than $5.5 million to 30 organizations.

The local chapter’s CEO, Sue Grey, said the funding is “a huge boost to what we’re doing. It enables to us to deepen our reach in Champaign county and East Central Illinois.”

Grey, who was also named to the state fund’s steering committee, said United Way partnered with the Community Foundation of East Central Illinois to secure the funding.

They’re “working alongside us,” she said, and will “help us find those organizations outside Champaign County” to distribute the funds to.

“We have a laundry list of where the $250,000 is going to go,” Grey said. “We have to spend it rather quickly, and that’s fine. We want to ... help people as quickly as we can.”

She said all the funds would be distributed by Friday.

“Our team is working with local groups that are helping families with food, housing and financial assistance,” she said. “We know time is of the essence when bills are due, pantries are bare and unemployment rises.”

The local United Way and the Community Foundation of East Central Illinois have set up their own COVID-19 Relief Fund, which has already distributed $20,000 to City of Champaign and Cunningham townships for housing assistance and $6,000 to Champaign, Urbana and Rantoul schools for home-learning supplies.

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