Our hearts go out to everyone who has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now and always, your health and safety is our top priority, and United Way of Central Missouri stands committed to support our community during this unprecedented time.

If you have questions related to COVID-19 please contact the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services 24-hour hotline at 1-877-435-8411.

If you need information about services and resources in our community, please call 2-1-1 or 1-800-427-4626. 211 operators are standing by 24/7 to connect people experiencing need with information on available community resources.

For the most up-to-date and accurate information on COVID-19, please visit the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and their Coronavirus page

Please remember to visit our Facebook page (@unitedwaycemo) for United Way and partner agency/community resources and updates.


Below are prevention tips as recommended by the CDC. The CDC notes: Older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness. Please consult with your health care provider about additional steps you may be able to take to protect yourself.

>Clean your hands often.

>Avoid close contact.

>Take steps to protect others; stay at home if you're sick.

>Cover coughs and sneezes.

>Wear a facemask when in public settings, even if you are not sick. Recent studies have shown those who lack symptoms (asymptomatic individuals) and those who eventually develop symptoms can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. 

>Clean and disinfect surfaces daily.


*2020 Data


United Way of Central Missouri fights for the health, education, financial stability and basic needs of every person in the nine counties we serve. United Way was born as a result of difficult times and came of age in the first half of the 1900s as War and Community Chests. It’s part of our DNA to help people in tough, anxious and uncertain times, and we stand committed to helping our community remain strong and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 Grants

United Way of Central Missouri needed to be agile and pivot in order to address the gaps experienced by health and human service agencies and be responsive to these unprecedented, changing needs.  We understood the COVID-19 crisis was causing a surge in demand for services, and that it was critical that agencies have the resources needed to continue to operate at the highest capacity and to offer additional services when appropriate.

United Way phased our grant award distribution to ensure support of these challenges immediately as well as for the long term.

Phase I:  Announced in mid-March, this immediate grant opportunity in the amount of $50,000 was available to our 28 United Way of Central Missouri partner agencies. Partner agencies were eligible to apply for the Emergency COVID-19 Grants to be used to serve the most vulnerable in our community for immediate, critical basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, childcare, utility assistance, etc. View our Phase I grant recipients here.

Phase II: The United Way Community Support Grant opportunity was announced in mid-February, pre-COVID.  But when COVID-19 became a stark reality, the scope of the Community Support Grant opportunity was expanded to include COVID-19 related requests in addition to the areas of behavioral health, education, food insecurity, financial stability, health, housing, or transportation.   $24,000 of the $225,000 total were COVID related requests. View our Phase II grant recipients here.

Phase III:  The United Way of Central Missouri COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund was established to support intermediate and long-term COVID-19 response and recovery for health and human service agencies in the nine counties served by the United Way of Central Missouri. On behalf of the United Way of Central Missouri Board of Directors, we are proud to have awarded $170,894 through 24 COVID-19 Response & Recovery grants.  These one-time grants address new or existing programs, capacity or operational challenges due to this pandemic. The funding of these grants was made possible through the generosity of caring, compassionate individuals, organizations and foundations who donated to the United Way of Central Missouri COVID Response & Recovery Fund.  A special thanks to Missouri Foundation for Health who identified the United Way of Central Missouri as being well positioned to identify and assist agencies in the central Missouri community during the pandemic, and provided $100,000 of the $170,000! View our Phase III grant recipients here.

Industry-Specific Crisis Relief Funds

The Central Missouri Food Service Industry Relief Fund was established to provide financial assistance for people laid off from restaurants or bars in the counties we serve as well as Boone County. Gifts are paid directly to a creditor to help an individual adversely impacted by COVID-19 with mortgage, rent, utility or auto payments. Learn more about this fund here.

The Central Missouri Medical Personnel Relief Fund was established to provide critical financial aid to local healthcare workers who experienced a financial hardship or crisis as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Gifts are paid directly to a creditor to help an individual adversely impacted by COVID-19with mortgage, rent, utility or auto payments. Learn more about this fund here.

Collecting & Distributing Masks, Hair Covers & Surgical Caps

Local healthcare organizations including SSM St. Mary’s Hospital, Capital Region Medical Center, Cole County Community Health Center, and Jefferson City Medical Group (JCMG) requested United Way of Central Missouri serve as the central repository for handmade masks, and then distribute out to these institutions as well as Emergency Responders.  We have also provided masks to some of our partner agencies and low-income housing areas to provide masks to some of the most vulnerable in our community.  As of August 31, 2020 we have collected and distributed 2,551 masks/hair covers and 116 surgical caps.  

Cole County COVID Assistance Helpline

In order to be leaders in working to protect our community, United Way of Central Missouri partnered with the City of Jefferson and Cole County leadership to seek their collaboration to establish the Cole County COVID Assistance Helpline. This helpline allowed Cole County to have one phone number for community members to access groceries and prescription medication delivery and other direct services. This collaborative effort was made possible through the partnership with health and human service organizations, churches and organizations already providing these services in order to work together to most efficiently, effectively and compassionately serve those in need due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One phone number simplified the process for community members who may have been experiencing tremendous stress accessing direct services that were available when our community instituted Shelter in Place. 

Additional Community Efforts & Programs

United Way of Central Missouri met virtually with its partner agencies every Tuesday morning for the first several months to assist with volunteer, funding and other critical needs and share best practices. Things are changing so rapidly; the agencies shared they valued this opportunity to find new ideas to similar issues they were having, and also helps United Way of Central Missouri to provide or connect them with resources when we know the needs.  

United Way of Central Missouri collaborated with partner agency, American Red Cross, to establish and promote four additional new blood drives in the Jefferson City community. The success of these blood drives was critical to our local hospitals so they had the blood supply needed to perform critical surgeries during COVID-19. When the pandemic first impacted our community, many surgeries were postponed. As hospitals began rescheduling those surgeries they saw a dramatic increase in number of surgeries scheduled, and therefore required a dramatic increase in the amount of blood needed to be successful. Through this partnership, 146 units of blood were collected—translating to 438 lives saved.

The USDA Farmers to Families Program partnered with Graves Foods and United Way of Central Missouri to distribute just under 24,000 gallons of free milk to members of the central Missouri community. This milk was available as a result of the pandemic due to the dramatic decrease of sales in the food industry. 

United Way of Central Missouri collaborated with partner agency The Food Bank and local grocer Hy-Vee to provide the Food 4 Kids Program in the central Missouri community. This program is intended to provide healthy food to children under the age of 18 during the summer months between summer school and the regular school session. This program fills the gap and provides food to pockets of poverty in Jefferson City, Missouri; and is estimated to provide 1,425 healthy meals in August 2020.

United Way of Central Missouri and partner agency The Food Bank collaborated to adjust its mobile food pantry model. This mobile food pantry provides food to six pockets of poverty in the central Missouri community, keeping our neighborhoods healthy, safe and strong. During COVID, we partnered together to keep the mobiles staffed with volunteers and adapt a drive-thru model so this food could still be available to those most vulnerable in our community. 

On the heels of the tornado and major flooding our community endured last year, United Way of Central Missouri understood those impacted would be hit especially hard during the pandemic. United Way staff provided outreach to all disaster survivors to ask how they are doing, and how COVID-19 has re-impacted them, working with case management agency Catholic Charities to determine which disaster survivors need renewed assistance through the Long Term Recovery Committee.

The United Way of Central Missouri Early Childhood Advisory Board held virtual meetings with area childcare programs to address critical needs and share best practices during the pandemic. United Way provided personal protective supplies of hand sanitizer disinfect spray and non-contact thermometers so childcare centers could remain safe and open.


The work that the United Way network has done over the last year to help communities deal with COVID-19 has been a massive undertaking and hugely important. Overall, the network raised and distributed about $1 billion, with a focus on serving the most vulnerable. We’ve provided more than 27 million people with support, including many communities of color. Even in tough economic times, United Way is working hard to reimagine and rebuild healthy, strong and equitable communities.
Please take a moment to read about some of the inspiring work happening across the network in Respond, Recover, Reimagine, Rebuild: United Way's COVID-19 Fight, including an inspiring video of a poem by Amana Gorman, America's youth poet laureate, written about the work of the United Way.