Philanthropic Leaders Launch the COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund

March 20, 2020


The Erie Community Foundation and like-minded philanthropic institutions, dedicated to improving the quality of life for all, have come together with unprecedented speed to create the COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund. The general public will be invited to make additional contributions to this fund through a special version of Erie Gives, to be held online 24/7 beginning Friday, March 20 through Tuesday, March 31 at

The Foundation partnered with Erie Insurance, United Way, Hamot Health Foundation and Highmark/Allegheny Health Network to raise $285,000 in lead gifts to encourage additional donations from the general public.  By utilizing the established Erie Gives website model, donors are welcome to partake in the movement by giving to the fund and helping our neighbors. 

The newly established COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund will provide grant dollars to support nonprofits helping Erie County residents impacted by the Coronavirus Disease.  More specifically, the COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund will support 501 (C) (3)nonprofits that:

  1. Provide food to those in need
  2. Administer care for our children
  3. Serve the elderly, who are the most vulnerable population to COVID-19
  4. Help those suffering from hardships and job loss due to COVID-19

“During our nine years of experience with Erie Gives, we have watched our community rise to the challenge of supporting our nonprofit sector and their clients,” said Foundation President Michael L. Batchelor.  “Now more than ever, we need each other,” he said.

The Foundation and the funders are using the Erie Gives website to accept gifts for the COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund.  The special COVID-19 Grants Committee comprised of Foundation staff and its funders, will dispense grants per a grant application process.  Nonprofits can access the application online at and  The grant deadline application will be April 1, 2020.  The plan is to distribute grant dollars by April 3, 2020.  “Our goal is to rapidly respond to this pandemic crisis and support our nonprofit sector that helps our residents in distress,” Batchelor added.       

As the Coronavirus Disease pandemic spread across the world, the country and eventually our community, many restaurants, businesses, schools and health establishments closed their doors.  The closings meant our neighbors dealt with layoffs and unexpected difficulties to secure food, to

pay bills, and to care for the susceptible elderly and our youngest community members.  Retail workers, small business owners, restaurant owners, waiters, waitresses, bartenders, hairdressers, care givers, and many others, including nonprofits experienced interruptions of vital income streams.

“National infectious disease experts and government officials predict the COVID-19 will be one of the most significant economic, health and human service challenges we have ever faced,” said Batchelor.  “For those reasons, we encourage donors to give generously to the fund.”  Donors can log on to to make a gift. 

Donors who want to make a gift by check, should mail checks to The Erie Community Foundation at 459 West 6hh Street, Erie, PA 16507.  Donors who want to make gift through their donor advised fund at the Foundation, can call our offices at 814-454-0843.  Currently, the Foundation office is closed but staff is working remotely and will receive your message.

“Through this fund, and this special version of Erie Gives, we come together as one with one goal; to provide rapid, effective and efficient assistance to those who are most vulnerable to the historic impact of the Corona Virus pandemic, and we are most grateful to our partners for stepping up with us to make a major impact,” Batchelor added.  “We are in uncharted territory and the establishment of the COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund is the first step in our community’s recovery and healing process.” 

Mayor Joe Schember and Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper are supportive of the rapid response to the Coronavirus Pandemic. “The funding partners’ quick action and collective leadership has united our efforts,” said Schember.  “With their help and attention to the most immediate needs, our community will recover faster than ever,” said Dahlkemper. 

The community-wide Erie Gives is still scheduled to take place on Tuesday, August 11, when donors can make a gift to over 350 local nonprofits that will benefit from a prorated match.  “While this urgent COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund utilizing the Erie Gives model is focused on the Coronavirus pandemic and the most vulnerable, I encourage donors to give generously to all of their favored nonprofits during this time of crisis,” he said. “Hopefully by August 11 when we host our traditional Erie Gives, our community will have successfully weathered these historic times, and we can once again collectively celebrate our nonprofit sector and keep them strong and vibrant,” Batchelor said.

Note:  The Erie Community Foundation does not make grants to individuals but to local nonprofits that can help those in the most need.