Vaccinating the Great Lakes State

United Way of Washtenaw County Commits to Vaccinate the Great Lake State


August 2, 2021 (Ann Arbor, Mich.) -- The Michigan Association of United Ways (MAUW) and the Michigan Nonprofit Association are launching a new initiative, Vaccinate the Great Lakes State, to encourage COVID-19 vaccination uptake and support reaching the state’s target of a 70% vaccination rate. 

As part of these efforts, United Way offices across Michigan, including United Way of Washtenaw County, will serve as a “hub” in high-need counties – based on MAUW’s ALICE Report data coupled with the Social Vulnerability Index – to develop unique plans for their communities in support of fieldwork for nonprofits. 

“United Way of Washtenaw County is pleased to collaborate with our local partners; the Washtenaw County Health Department Vaccine Ambassador program, the WISD Trusted Advisor program and a coalition of BIPOC churches to encourage people to get the COVID-19 vaccine”, shared Pam Smith, president and CEO, United Way of Washtenaw County. “When we LIVE UNITED, positive change can impact our community’s results.” 

The State of Michigan seeks to vaccinate at least 70% of the eligible population. Yet, due to vaccine hesitancy and barriers to access, there is a clear unmet need for localized outreach, communication and coordination to ensure equitable vaccine uptake occurs in Michigan. 

In summary, the Michigan Association of United Ways’ efforts will include: 

● Forming a state-level steering committee composed of statewide organizations that represent the groups serving hard-to-reach communities, including the Michigan Primary Care Association and Federally Qualified Health Centers 

● Initiating statewide communications with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and CDC, and making those resources widely available to local nonprofits 

● Assisting nonprofits in identifying and reaching vulnerable populations

● Awarding mini-grants to local nonprofits to target fieldwork and engagement

● Collecting, analyzing, and visualizing data to assist local effort


“From working with our state-level steering committee to our exceptional United Way hubs, mini-grant recipients and nonprofits, I am incredibly proud to be an advocate for MAUW’s Vaccine the Great Lakes State program,” said Mike Lawson, president and CEO, Michigan Association of United Ways. “Our local United Ways, especially, are the backbone of our mission and, as we continue to push toward that 70% vaccination rate, I am confident that these efforts will propel our state forward toward stronger health, education and financial stability.” 

The State of Michigan has invested $2.5 million in the project. With an additional match of $2.5 million from private donors, MAUW will be able to evaluate and monitor success of the program, establish hubs in other parts of the state, and focus on equity where it’s needed most, particularly in widespread rural and high-density urban areas. 

About the Michigan Association of United Ways 

Michigan Association of United Ways (MAUW) is a partner in developing powerful responses to current and emerging issues in local communities. The State Association provides leadership in policy influence and capacity building to affect positive change. MAUW serves approximately 35 local United Ways that represent the largest network of non-governmental service providers and service funders in Michigan, collectively raising and distributing significant resources to support local health and human service organizations. 

About United Way of Washtenaw County 

As part of our 100-year history, the United Way of Washtenaw County brings people, agencies and resources together to create a thriving community for everyone. Our focus areas of Health, Education and Financial Stability provide the building blocks to strengthen the community and create opportunities for individuals and families. Our virtual Volunteer Center is an easy, online way for people to connect with nonprofits in the community and our 2-1-1 helpline connects more than 8,000 people annually to critically needed services. To learn more, donate, or volunteer, visit