Utah’s Community Aid for Ukraine

When news of the catastrophic war in Ukraine reached Utah, the need for humanitarian aid was clear. The Community Foundation of Utah worked quickly with the Larry H. Miller Company and the Larry H. Miller & Gail Miller Family Foundation to sponsor an emergency response fund. On March 3rd at the Utah State Capitol, a press conference was held to announce the partnered Utah for Ukraine Fund to benefit refugees fleeing Ukraine.

“In times of crisis, Utahns respond. They take action to serve, lift, and love, and that is why I’m proud to be a member of this community,” said philanthropic leader Gail Miller. “We have about 1,500 Ukrainian neighbors who live here in Utah. We are all heartbroken by the desperate situation their loved ones face in Ukraine. This is an opportunity for us to come together, put our arms around our neighbors, and show them that our hearts are united.”

The Utah for Ukraine Fund was part of the larger Driven to Assist community fundraiser and donation drive, which aligned the interests of philanthropic foundations with individual donors. A new kind of donation process promised a match from the Larry H. Miller & Gail Miller Family Foundation for every dollar raised up to $2 million. With over 3,600 donations—of which 90% were $100 or less—the fund surpassed its goal in raising $4 million to support more than 7 million displaced Ukrainians.

Utahns across the state came together as a community to help create solutions for the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe. "This fund brought together Utahns from all walks of life around a common cause,” said Alex Eaton, CEO of the Community Foundation of Utah. “Whether donating $25 or $250,000, the Utah for Ukraine Fund allowed donors to unite and do more good, together.”

The fund advisory committee displayed the state’s commitment to collaboration, with philanthropic experts and representatives from state government working together. As a part of Driven to Assist, the Miller Family Foundation unified with committee member First Lady Abby Cox to host donation drives at six different locations for critically needed items. After item donations were collected by Abby Cox’s initiative Show Up, volunteers organized and prepared them to be airlifted by Intermountain Healthcare to countries bordering Ukraine.

With the donation drive underway, the committee decided the Utah for Ukraine Fund would focus on displaced female-headed households and unaccompanied children. After carefully reviewing partnership proposals, the committee distributed $3.9 million to three trusted 501(c)3 organizations with plans for action—Catholic Relief Services, The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and The International Rescue Committee (IRC). 

Committee member Natalie El-Deiry, Director of Immigration and New American Integration with the Utah Governor's Office of Economic Opportunity, expressed her gratitude to contribute to these important decisions. “It was an honor to be part of the committee to share my experience to help inform the process and select this group of impressive humanitarian aid organizations responding to those displaced by the war,” she said.

As the fund unfolds, Catholic Relief Services will provide housing to hundreds of households in Bulgaria and Moldova and give 1,500 children access to educational support and psychosocial assistance. UNICEF will provide services through safe spaces that provide families with critical information—known as Blue Dot Hubs—across 7 European countries. IRC received funding to expand established partnerships with local organizations to meet the protection needs for vulnerable households and support rural communities in Moldova, which has accepted a 17% increase in its population.

Utah’s response to the war in Ukraine created a new standard for emergency aid on an international scale. “I am continuously impressed with the generosity of Utahns to respond to the world's worst humanitarian crises,” said El-Deiry, “As we saw the war in Ukraine unfold before our eyes, community members in our great state stepped up to contribute in whatever way they could to support.” As the Community Foundation of Utah works with partners to ensure the long term support of Ukrainian refugees, we prepare for the next crisis so Utah is ready to come together as a community again to extend a hand to those in need.

 

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