March 27, 2020
Last Friday, The Erie Community Foundation and like-minded philanthropic institutions quickly created the COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund and launched an emergency version of Erie Gives. The fund opened with $310,000 from the partners and the community was encouraged to make additional contributions at www.ErieGives.org. Currently, the fund has grown to over $535,000, and the nonprofits have requested over $1.2 million.
“We know the needs will grow,” said Foundation President Mike Batchelor. To date, 45 nonprofits have applied for over $1.2 million in funding from the COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund. Needs range from providing meals and diapers to buying face guards, gowns and cleaning supplies. Many nonprofits rely on fundraising events and ticket sales, but since Erie County is on shut down, donors and supporters are not attending events. Nonprofits are now struggling to pay rent and cover payroll. With anxiety mounting over COVID-19, agencies are also seeing an increase in need for metal health care.
“The first pressing need was to provide funding for the basic necessity of food,” Batchelor added. “A $168,000 grant to Second Harvest Food Bank will provide 600 emergency boxes for four weeks to supply meals to those in the most need, including the elderly.”
According to data compiled by the Community Foundation Public Awareness Initiative, nearly 170 community foundations spanning the United States created Covid-19 response funds. The foundations, including The Erie Community Foundation, have mobilized more than $238.7 million during the past two weeks alone to provide critical support to those who are facing challenges such as lost income, housing and food instability.
“We are communicating with other funders such as ECGRA, and our goal is to raise and grant funds quickly to those most in need and to ensure an efficient and coordinated response during this unprecedented time,” Batchelor said. “We are grateful for the support of our partners Erie Insurance, United Way of Erie County, Hamot Health Foundation, Highmark/AHN Saint Vincent and Housing Authority of Erie.”