In March 2020, just as Covid-19 was rapidly taking hold of the world, it was clear that the people of Northwest Arkansas were going to need help. The region already had more than its share of hardships and poverty. But now a global pandemic was already beginning to trigger an economic downturn that would cast more and more people into health and financial crises. More parents would be laid off from jobs; more children would be shut out of school and in need of supervision and food. More families were going to need aid just to keep a roof over their heads.
That’s when a group of local nonprofits convened an emergency conference call to figure out how best to provide that help.
On the call, various leaders took turns laying out what their respective parties had to offer. Meanwhile representatives of two organizations — the United Way of Northwest Arkansas and Excellerate Foundation — had the same idea. They understood immediately that more and more people were going to need the UW’s lifeline phone number to call and get connected to short-term help keeping the lights on and putting food on the family dinner table. They also knew this pandemic wasn’t going to be a short affair and that many of these same people were going to need the in-depth, long-term care and planning that only Excellerate was able to provide.