Marathon Petroleum grant helps United Way connect people to non-emergency help and services

Community News

Foundation, sustainability, Catlettsburg

For a second year in a row, Marathon Petroleum has donated to United Way of Northeast Kentucky (UWNEK) to fuel the maintenance of the 211 program, a toll-free number that connects individuals to non-emergency help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Callers in the UWNEK service area of Boyd, Carter, Elliott, Greenup and Lawrence counties speak to a live operator who can assist with finding local health and human services.

“Marathon Petroleum is committed to improving our communities, and 211 is that connection between the improvement available to individuals and how to find it.”

The $65,000 MPC grant helps UWNEK maintain and expand the 211 program, which provides a simple, easy to remember number that people in the area can call to get help with their utility bills, food and nutrition services, health care and housing.  

“We were so fortunate to get this grant from MPC last year for our 211 programs,” said Jerri Compton, UWNEK CEO. “And to have this for a second year during such a difficult financial time in our communities is just incredible.”

The grant helps the program with operational and communication costs, which are crucial to maintaining the program for these counties. Prior to UWNEK’s commitment to bring 211 to the region in 2018, only 20% of Kentucky had 211 coverage. Through the Kentucky United Way network, financial partnerships like Marathon Petroleum and commitments from state government, Kentucky now has 100% coverage.

“I was a part of the early days of those conversations about this service and the people of our region had no idea where to call to get the services they needed,” MPC Stakeholder Engagement Representative Sheila Fraley said. “Marathon Petroleum is committed to improving our communities, and 211 is that connection between the improvement available to individuals and how to find it.”

Maintaining the 211 program means maintaining an ever-changing database on programs and services including locations, contacts, hours, requirements and much more. It’s critical that the information in the database is accurate when a call center specialist is assisting a caller. 

“We want to be able to provide as much information to the 211 callers as possible to put them on the path of help they need,” Compton said. “This information can change frequently as charitable and non-profit services are constantly changing based on staffing and funding.”

Throughout the pandemic, keeping up with frequent changes was a particular challenge, as some organizations have had to cease services while others have expanded services with state or federal funding. Compton said that UWNEK donors and company supporters like MPC helped save many programs from closing or reducing throughout the pandemic.

“While we certainly saw a reduction in our overall donations, we also witnessed the generosity of individuals and corporations who were also experiencing difficulty of their own,” Compton said. “MPC has remained a steadfast UWNEK supporter and helped us continue to offer and expand services to the community.”

For more information about the United Way of Northeast Kentucky and the 211 programs, visit or call (606) 325-1810.