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A Collective Community Response to COVID-19

March 27, 2020

U.S. Community Foundations Mobilize More Than $282M to Support Those Impacted by COVID-19

Communities receive rapid response of hyper local philanthropic organizations helping those with highest need.
U.S. community foundations are moving decisively to help those in need during the COVID-19 crisis - mobilizing more than $282 million during the past two weeks alone. These funds will provide critical support to those who are facing challenges such as lost income, housing and food instability.
According to data compiled by the Community Foundation Public Awareness Initiative, nearly 190 community foundations spanning 49 states and the District of Columbia have already created COVID-19 response funds.
Community foundations are also partnering with private and family foundations, other nonprofits, businesses, and local government agencies to raise and grant funds quickly to those most in need and to ensure an efficient and coordinated response.
For example:

  • The Chicago Community Trust has earmarked more than $3.5 million to support 42 nonprofits in the Chicago metro region - the first in what is expected to be a series of rapid-response grant awards.
  • Oregon Community Foundation is announcing $2 million in grants to support nonprofits working on the ground in its state.
  • The New York Community Trust - which is housing a city-wide fund that already includes more than $78 million from 26 partners - plans to make weekly grant awards to help nonprofits address critical needs.

“Because of experience addressing catastrophic events like 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy, we were able to quickly put into place a grant-making partnership,” said Lorie A. Slutsky, The New York Community Trust’s President. “Community foundations are uniquely positioned to play this role - and they are stepping forward in every corner of the country to address this massive crisis.”

Community foundations are grantmaking public charities that mobilize the assets of past and current donors to improve the lives of people in a defined geographic area. They bring together the financial resources of individuals, families, and businesses to support effective nonprofits in their communities.
The U.S. is home to roughly 800 community foundations, representing communities of all sizes, from statewide foundations to rural counties and small towns. Each community foundation is independent, has its own community-based mission, involves community members in its grantmaking decisions, and uses a variety of philanthropic instruments – including endowments, donor-advised funds, giving circles, and other gifts – to support its grantmaking and community leadership activities.
In addition to traditional grantmaking to nonprofits, community foundations are also adopting a number of innovative approaches to address the COVID-19 crisis.
For example:

  • In Dallas, in addition to launching the North Texas Community Response FundCommunities Foundation of Texas is housing the Get Shift Done for North Texas Initiative, which was launched to pay affected hourly workers in the hospitality industry to perform shifts for nonprofit organizations and institutions trying to meet community demand during the COVID-19 crisis. They're also leading and participating in North Texas Cares, a collaborative of 20+ funders committed to using one shared grant application for area nonprofits.
  • In Washington, D.C., a growing number of restaurant and property management companies have created funds at the Greater Washington Community Foundation to assist displaced workers and provide rent relief to tenants. The Foundation has also created the DC Education Equity Fund to help ensure the city’s most vulnerable students have needed computers and Internet access for distance learning activities.

“This crisis demands flexibility and creative ideas,” said Tonia Wellons, Greater Washington Community Foundation’s president and CEO. “COVID-19 is affecting everyone in our community - but it is hitting historically underserved populations particularly hard. We, and our colleagues across the country, are working to identify and adopt innovative approaches so we can rise to the considerable challenge our communities are now facing.”
A full listing of verified community foundation COVID-19 response efforts - and updated figures on mobilized funds - can be found on the Community Foundation Public Awareness Initiative’s website.
Reporters seeking interviews with community foundation leaders, grantees, and donors, can contact Peter Panepento.
About the Community Foundation Public Awareness Initiative
The Community Foundation Public Awareness Initiative includes more than 120 community foundations in 47 states working together to educate the public about how we’re improving communities.

Learn More Here

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