On March 16, United Way launched our COVID-19 Community Response Fund with generous support from key corporate sponsors and leadership donors. In just two weeks, sponsors and donors answered the call, contributing more than $1.5 million in both match pool dollars and contributions toward the emergency assistance fund. We will distribute 100% of the fund in two-week cycles to meet the evolving needs of our nonprofit partners.
Through a short and nimble grant application process, we’ve identified 17 nonprofits to receive the first $373,000 from the fund this week. These emergency assistance grants, ranging from $8,000 and $50,000, will help our network of nonprofits continue their difficult work on the front lines of this crisis in a variety of ways including:
- Increased food distribution: With school closings and families losing incomes, more people are in need of food, and nonprofits are stepping up to meet that need. United Way is assisting nonprofits such as Directions for Youth and Families, NNEMAP, Freedom a la Cart, Lutheran Social Services and LifeCare Alliance with funding to safely provide food to expanding vulnerable populations.
- Supporting education: Families began pulling children out of early child care centers even before centers were required to close. The disruption of services creates additional strain for parents and severely reduces funding for centers, which ultimately impacts learning for our community’s children during a critical time of development. Action for Children, South Side Early Learning and Columbus Early Learning Centers will receive funding to provide immediate support for families and to maintain operations.
- Providing emergency services: The pandemic has created the need for nonprofits to quickly change existing delivery models or add new services to meet sudden needs in the community. Community Shelter Board will receive funds for feeding and housing 200 men in a temporary shelter in order to maintain safe social distancing. Funds to Charitable Pharmacy will help in adding triage tents and securing adequate protective equipment, and the YWCA will use funding to assist in operating a pandemic child care center for essential workers.
- Maintaining operations and essential services: Many nonprofit partners lost substantial revenue from closed social enterprises or discontinued paid services, as well as canceled fundraisers. Columbus Early Learning Services, Alvis, Furniture Bank of Columbus, YMCA and Catholic Social Services are among the nonprofits receiving funding to help them continue providing essential short-term and long-term client services.
“Our response fund will help our nonprofit network meet immediate needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Lisa Courtice, president and CEO of United Way of Central Ohio, “And it will also help our network remain strong and prepare for the ongoing support our community will need as we recover from this crisis over the next several months.”
The next round of grants will be announced and distributed the week of April 13. Gifts of any size can be donated at liveunitedcentralohio.org/responsefund.