Empty grocery store shelves. “Out of stock” alerts for essential items. Empty roads, covered faces, rising cases, mounting unknowns.
Few of us will forget these ominous, fearful months two years ago, when COVID-19 shocked the world and forced us to pivot in virtually every area of our lives. Two years in, we are still reeling from the tragic loss of lives, as well as the economic and social repercussions of the pandemic. Yet as we look back, we remember not just the fear and uncertainty, but the incredible ways communities and individuals stepped up to support one another in the most trying of times.
Community leaders rapidly adapted their methods of service, often pivoting in mere hours to continue to serve the existing and emerging needs of their communities. It is thanks to the incredible nonprofits in our region that food banks were stocked with food, some arts performances operated virtually, foster children and other vulnerable children’s needs were met, scientists studied the severity of COVID cases within weeks, and so much more. For all of this and more, we cannot say thank you enough to our community leaders.
In these difficult moments, we also saw funders, corporate partners, government agencies, and faith-based communities step up to provide the needed support to help these nonprofits continue their missions.
- Rasmuson Foundation in Anchorage, AK, created a $2 million COVID-19 response fund in spring 2020 that initially provided childcare to first responders and other essential workers with children and quickly expanded to other needs. The fund helped nonprofits and tribal organizations work remotely through technology grants, supported artists newly out of work, provided cleaning kits to households in remote villages, and more.
- The Oregon Community Foundation created or facilitated nine emergency funds in eight months, including as early as March 17, 2020, to support Oregonians most affected by COVID-19. Overall COVID-19 grantmaking from the Oregon Community Foundation has totaled $87.7 million.
- The Ford Family Foundation helped meet the needs of local schools, nonprofit organizations, and communities in Oregon and Siskiyou County, California through 200 emergency response grants of $10,000, flexible funding guidelines, and more.
- At a time when much federal funding was diverted to COVID-19 research, the Kuni Foundation in Vancouver, WA increased their funding for emerging leaders in cancer research so their critical work could continue, as well as increased general operating support to nonprofits serving people with intellectual disabilities.
- In partnership with other local funders, Innovia Foundation distributed more than $2.9 million to support community organizations serving on the front lines of COVID-19 response and recovery efforts in Eastern Washington and North Idaho.
- The Community Foundation for Southwest Washington provided nearly 200 relief grants totaling over $9 million to address needs around immigrant and refugee communities, homelessness, affordable housing, food insecurity, and more. This was thanks to 400 gifts from over 200 generous donors, some within mere weeks of the COVID-19 outbreak.
- At the Murdock Trust, we were able to disperse 290 COVID-specific grants totaling over $27 million since March 2020. These included funds from six COVID-19 initiatives: Emergency Relief Fund, Arts & Culture Resilience Fund, Youth Well-Being Fund, Mental Health Initiative, Immigrant Initiative, and Camp Funding Initiative.
In addition to COVID-19 emergency relief, many of these foundations continued to offer capacity building support to nonprofits, as well as emergency relief during historic wildfires just months after the pandemic hit. The Pacific Northwest is a region that gives, and as the last two years have shown us, not even a global pandemic can stop that.
Yes, there were empty store shelves and many unknowns, but there were also smiling faces (behind masks), open (gloved) hands, and people (six feet apart), ready to serve.
THANK YOU to every foundation, nonprofit, and individual who offered time, money, prayers, and support to those most in need during the last two years. Let us carry this spirit forward into what we hope are brighter days ahead.