YWCA Greater Cincinnati wins $1.25M grant from Bezos Day 1 Families Fund

YWCA Greater Cincinnati has received a $1.25 million grant from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s foundation to enhance local efforts to support children and adults in families experiencing homelessness.

The grant came from the Bezos Day 1 Families Fund, which recognizes leading organizations doing what it calls “compassionate, needle-moving work to help families experiencing homelessness secure housing and achieve stability.”

The Seattle-based organization issued a total of $117.55 million in grants to 38 organizations this year.

YWCA Greater Cincinnati plans to use its funding to expand services to meet the growing need for access to safe transitional and permanent housing for families experiencing homelessness in Hamilton, Clermont, Brown and Adams counties.

Rickell Howard Smith, president and CEO of YWCA Greater Cincinnati, described the gift as “transformational.” She said the one-time, uniquely flexible grant will enable the organization to further serve as a “critical lifeline to children and adults in families experiencing homelessness.”

Rickell Howard Smith

YWCA Greater Cincinnati operates the only emergency shelters for domestic violence survivors in Hamilton and Clermont counties.

This grant will enable the organization to expand its capacity and serve more families in need, reduce their length of stay in emergency shelters and provide safe, permanent housing, Howard Smith said.

“It is an honor to receive this transformational gift and be recognized for our leadership working to provide safe shelter, housing and supportive services to families fleeing from violence,” she added.

Launched in 2018, the Bezos Day One Fund made a $2 billion commitment to focus on making meaningful and lasting impacts in two areas: 

  • funding existing nonprofits that help families experiencing homelessness 
  • and creating a network of new, nonprofit, tier-one preschools in low-income communities 

Through its Bezos Day 1 Families Fund, the foundation issues annual leadership awards to organizations and civic groups working to help families experiencing homelessness – including those who are unsheltered or staying in shelters – regain safe, stable housing and achieve well-being.

Recommendations for funding come from a group of national advisors who are leading advocates and experts on homelessness and service provision. This year’s 13 advisors have expertise in areas such as housing justice, advancing racial equity and helping programs employ resources effectively to assist families out of homelessness.

Over the past six years, the Bezos Day 1 Families Fund has provided 208 grants totaling more than $630 million to organizations around the country working on the frontlines to identify unsheltered families, help families regain housing and connect families experiencing homelessness to vital services.

Other local organizations to receive Day 1 Families Fund grants include Strategies to End Homelessness, which received $5 million last year. Both Cincinnati-based Bethany House Services and Welcome House of Northern Kentucky in Covington won $1.25 million grants in 2019.

A selection of more than half of grantees between 2018 through 2021 reported that, to date, they have used their grants to divert more than 28,000 families from experiencing homelessness, connect more than 30,000 unsheltered families with safe shelter and help more than 75,000 families access the services they need.

Bezos Day One Fund

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