United for Equity

We must actively work to reduce inequities in the nonprofit and grantmaking sector. According to a nationwide study by Candid, only 7% of grant dollars serve ethnic and racial groups.  The inequity is especially present in disability services. According to the CDC, one in four Americans has some type of disability. However, in 2017 only 3% of foundation dollars supported people with disabilities.

Equity is embedded deeply into United Way's grantmaking process. We have established United For Equity because it is imperative that our United Way and our community does more to financially support organizations that are:

  • serving historically marginalized people
  • dismantling systemic barriers
  • providing services in culturally responsive ways
  • led by people of color and members of the communities which they serve

Our support in this area doesn't stop with grants. United for Equity will provide leadership and capacity building support to help strengthen the overall health of organizations in our community.

Income Gap

In Champaign County, the median household income is $52,405. There are significant disparities in income by race and ethnicity.

Median Household Income, 2019

Race Median Household Income
All Champaign County $52,405
White, not Hispanic or Latino $62,465
Black $25,966
Asian $33,724
Hispanic or Latino (any race) $40,185

Source: American Community Survey, 2019

Third Grade Reading Achievement Gap


High School Graduation 

Obtaining a high school diploma is critical to future career success. Disparities in graduation rates persist across our County's school districts.

Four Year Graduation Rate

District Overall White Black Asian Low-Income
Champaign Unit 4 Schools 83% 91% 78% 97% 73%
Urbana 116 87% 90% 86% 94% 85%
Rantoul High School 84% 83% 75% N-A 82%

Source: Illinois School Report Card


Homeownership is the principal way that most families build wealth in the United States. 

In our community, homeownership rates vary significantly by race/ethnicity. Black and Asian families are less likely to own their residence. Mortgage applications from Black families are rejected at higher rates than white and Asian families.

Race/Ethnicity Homeownership Rate Mortgage Rejection Rate, 2020 Mortgatge Rejection Rate, 2019
All Champaign County 51.8% 10.9% 15.4%
White 60.2% 10.1% 13.7%
Black 26.1% 24.2% 38.3%
Asian 30.2% 11.1% 14.9%

Source: US Census Bureau, 2019 American Community Survey, FFIEC Home Mortgage Disclosure Act

Addressing systemic issues to increase opportunity for ALL

United Way is committed to building a more equitable Champaign County. In 2021, United Way awarded $151,000 in grants to a cohort of local programs which address inequities in our community. Each grant program is working to advance one or more of the following areas:

  • Create Community Awareness
  • Encourage Collaboration
  • Create More Firsts
  • Break Down Barriers to Success

Our Strategy


United Way has intentionally partnered with programs that are led by members of the community they seek to serve, or programs that have demonstrated a deep history of partnership with the community served. 2/3 of clients served by United for Equity grant partners are Black, Indigenous, or People of Color.

Building Leadership

Nonprofit leadership must continue to diversify in order to better serve the community. United Way is working to build strong pathways for underrepresented populations to enter into decision-making roles at nonprofits, with a special emphasis on Board of Director positions. Additionally, we are in the process of establishing a mentoring program for Black nonprofit leaders.

Elevating Marginalized Voices

The voices of those closest to the challenge must be heard if any program wants to make progress on a community issue. All United Way Community Change grants require that the organization has an advisory team made up of program participants.

Future Grant Opportunities

Please contact Beverley Baker to receive a notification regarding future grant opportunities.

Special Projects in United for Equity

Illinois 21 Week Equity Challenge

Grant Partnerships

Certified Nursing Assistant

Provides accelerated coursework to the attainment of a Certified Nursing Assistant certificate. This program provides direct access to competitive, stable, full-time employment and has a 98-99% pass rate. We primarily serve low-income students who cannot afford to attend the CNA program offered at Parkland. The accelerated structure is particularly important for students who are trying to balance current employment and/or parenting responsibilities.

A program of Urbana Adult Education

Homeownership Support Program

Housing is the biggest determinant of wealth accumulation. At present, Black households hold 1/8th of the wealth of white households, and the gap is growing. Only 7% of black households in the county own their own home while making up 15% of the population. White households make up 62% of the population but hold 75% of the mortgages. Our program is designed to break down those barriers to homeownership, including helping homeowners move through the red tape and rejections at banks - 30% rejection rate for black households in Champaign County - to help them reach their dream (the American dream) of owning a home.

A program of Habitat for Humanity

Operation Hope

Operation Hope serves as a critical positive link between students and their families and the school district and larger community that helps break down barriers between the students’ present reality and a more promising future. Operation Hope helps create a number of firsts, most notable of which are some students who are the first generation to graduate from High School, are the first generation to attend college or pursue a post-secondary career with intention.

A program of Champaign Unit 4 Schools

Project Empower

Project Empower provides trauma-informed financial management resources and education. For women and children recovering from domestic violence, Project Empower helps to break down financial barriers and live healthier, more stable lives.

A program of Courage Connection

Strengthening Community Connections for Rural LGBTQ People

The goal of our program is to strengthen connections with communities in neighboring counties to enable LGBTQ residents to participate in Uniting Pride programs. This may be the first opportunity for LGBTQ youth and adults to be involved in programs and create relationships with other LGBTQ people who affirm their identities and are invested in their thriving as LGBTQ people. Community connectedness for LGBTQ people reduces negative mental health outcomes and enhances individual wellbeing.

A program of Uniting Pride of Champaign County

WIN Recovery

Provides a quality, proven approach that will lower incarceration and prevent recidivism among women served. Our program is designed to stop the trauma-to-prison pipeline by addressing and interrupting the source of trauma that leads to continuous cycles of incarceration. WIN Recovery connects women and LGBTQ2 clients with wraparound support services that are flexible enough to meet each person’s unique needs, including legal help, mental health treatment, parenting and life skills instruction, substance misuse treatment, employment assistance, and everything in between.

A program of WIN Recovery