More Resources to Help Mass. Nonprofits Respond to Crisis

March 22, 2020 — Foundations serving the Berkshires, Cambridge, Cape Cod, and Essex County last week announced they established emergency funds to bolster the resources of nonprofit organizations responding to the coronavirus crisis, and the Tufts Health Plan Foundation said it will augment funds it had already planned to grant to Massachusetts nonprofit organizations to support older people affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier in the week, community foundations based in Boston, Lowell, Natick, New Bedford, and Springfield established funds to help their nonprofit partners and others mitigate the impacts of the crisis.

Berkshire United Way and Berkshire Taconic Comm. Foundation Launch Emergency Fund

The Berkshire United Way, based in Pittsfield, and the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, based in Sheffield, established the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund for Berkshire County to rapidly deploy resources to community-based organizations as they respond to the impact of the coronavirus in Berkshire County.

The two organizations said they have already committed more than $600,000 for these efforts through a coalition of philanthropic organizations, businesses partners, and generous individuals.

Grants will help fund "frontline human services organizations that have deep roots in the community and strong experience working with vulnerable populations."

The new operating grants are designed to address gaps in services and increase capacity of organizations to meet basic needs of individuals and families.

“We are facing an unprecedented public health crisis and Berkshire United Way is working closely with Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and our philanthropic and business partners to make sure our local nonprofits have the capacity to support our most vulnerable neighbors,” said Candace Winkler, president and chief executive officer of the Berkshire United Way. “We are proud of the health care providers and human services organizations who are on the front line of this response and we want to make sure they have the resources and support to continue and expand their work.”

Peter Taylor, president of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, noted, “While the outbreak in Berkshire County is just beginning, we know that it threatens our neighbors who are already vulnerable and unprepared for its impact. This fund will give an important boost to organizations meeting basic needs and caring for community members every day during unprecedented times.”

Cambridge Community Foundation Creates COVID-19 Emergency Fund

The Cambridge Community Foundation (CCF), based in Cambridge, announced the creation of the Cambridge COVID-19 Emergency Fund, which will provide grants of up to $10,000 for nonprofits serving the city’s most vulnerable populations.

A second newly established, fund, the Cambridge Artist Relief Fund, will support individual artists, musicians, and local arts and cultural organizations threatened by lost income.

The funds will also provide grants of up to $1,000 for individuals and families facing COVID-19”“related hardship.

CCF said the new funds will infuse more than $350,000 into the community and will be made during the next six months "until the funds are depleted."

CCF President Geeta Pradhan said, “In the wake of economic uncertainty, the foundation and its partners are putting forward funds to address urgent needs in our community. We call on our city’s stable businesses and organizations and concerned residents to join us by contributing funds to support the individuals and organizations hardest”“hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Contributing to the new fund are the City of Cambridge, locally-based businesses, and individuals.

On March 15, Gov. Charlie Baker issued an emergency order that limits gatherings to 25 individuals to stem the spread of the virus. CCF said this has resulted in cancellations and closures "with devastating ripple effects for nonprofits, businesses, and workers" in Cambridge.

"There remains a great deal of uncertainty across all sectors and the most vulnerable—the elderly, laid”“off workers, the self-employed, trades people, hourly workers, restaurant staff, and artists and musicians already struggling—are the hardest hit," CCF said.

Cape Cod Foundation Gives Launches Strategic Emergency Response Fund

The Cape Cod Community Foundation, based in South Yarmouth, announced it has allocated $100,000 to seed a Strategic Emergency Response Fund, to support the continued operation of Cape Cod nonprofit organizations as they address the evolving impacts of COVID-19 on the health, economy, and vitality of their communities.

Kristin O’Malley, president and CEO of foundation, said the fund will compliment " the efforts of our colleagues on the front lines by providing needed operational support to our local nonprofits now and after this emergency."

She said the foundation is exploring how to work with existing grantees to release them from the original restrictions of their grants and repurpose funds since many may not be able to accomplish their original goals.

The foundation also announced it provided $5,000 to the Cape and Islands United Way for immediate support to nonprofits whose clients are disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus and the economic consequences of this outbreak.

Essex County Community Foundation Launches COVID-19 Response Fund

The Essex County Community Foundation (ECCF) today announced it has launched the Essex County COVID-19 Response Fund to help nonprofit organizations in its service area.

ECCF said it has provided $200,000 to the new fund, which will provide one-time rapid-response grants to nonprofit organizations working with communities "disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and the economic consequences of the outbreak."

ECCF will not host a formal application process for initial grants to be made by the fund, and will be released in coming weeks on a rolling basis as fundraising continues throughout the outbreak and recovery phases of the crisis.

Grants will be made to nonprofits serving priority populations, such as underserved communities and insecure populations, residents with limited access to safe, reliable food sources, and communities with a significant percentage of economically vulnerable residents.

Tufts Health Plan Foundation Commits $1 Million to Address COVID-19

The Tufts Health Plan Foundation (THPF), based in Watertown, announced that it will make an additional $1 million available to efforts driven by community and to nonprofit organizations supporting older people affected by the coronavirus outbreak in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Connecticut.

The new funding will augment its previously planned grantmaking in 2020, which will now top $4.5 million.

A spokesperson said at this point it is not known how much of the new funding will go to Massachusetts nonprofits.

In 2019, THPF awarded 39 grants to Massachusetts nonprofits totaling $2,027,140.

THPF said it is not accepting applications for the new funds. Instead, it is looking to bolster the capacity of nonprofits already working with older people as they respond to emerging and expanding needs reflected in their communities, and will work with grantees, community partners, and others to identify priorities.

THPF said it also will provide current grantees the flexibility to adjust their budgets to support new work related to COVID-19.

Tom Croswell, president and CEO of Tufts Health Plan, said,. “We hope this funding will provide local organizations flexibility in their operations to respond to pressing and emerging needs in the communities they support.”