REGION — Communities are rallying around the COVID-19 pandemic to find solutions for those financially impacted by the outbreak.
On March 16, The San Diego Foundation announced the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund, serving to provide local nonprofit organizations with funding to assist individuals with lost income, rent payments and other financial obligations during the ongoing health crisis.
The Foundation kicked off the fund with its own $300,000 contribution, along with a $1 million initial investment from San Diego Gas & Electric. On March 23, the Qualcomm Foundation donated $1 million to the fund.
As of March 26, the San Diego Foundation has raised $6.2 million with donations from 959 businesses and individuals. Of the money raised, $750,000 has been granted out to non-profits, according to the Foundation.
“We’re all in this together,” said Trudy Armstrong, director of regional outreach. “It’s the true pooled philanthropy across the region that’s going to make the difference. The entire region has to really come together. The more we can pool our resources, the more we can help our neighbors.”
The United Way of San Diego County is just one of the recipients for the grant money, receiving $250,000 last week. While the United Way is also seeking donations, the grant from the Foundation will be leveraged to help workers who have been laid off or have reduced hours.
The fund is for low-wage workers who need support for a “limited by an undetermined amount of time” for utilities and rent or mortgage payments.
The San Diego Foundation’s grant funding also focuses on food security, in addition to rental assistance and income replacement. Additionally, non-profits can apply for no-interest loans to provide business and community service continuity.
The Foundation partnered with the County Board of Supervisors COVID-19 subcommittee co-chaired by Nathan Fletcher, along with the San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council to assess community needs.
“The San Diego Foundation has deep expertise and experience leading disaster philanthropy efforts in San Diego,” said Mark Stuart, president and chief executive officer of the San Diego Foundation. “During the devastating wildfires of 2003, 2007 and 2017, The San Diego Foundation raised and granted more than $13 million through our San Diego Regional Disaster Fund to help survivors rebuild and recover. Now, we are facing a different type of disaster in COVID-19, but The San Diego Foundation is utilizing similar operational and collaborative strategies to lead the philanthropic response.”
The coronavirus outbreak is straining local communities and concerning for San Diegans with serious health concerns, long-term economic challenges and a lack of access to basic resources. But Stuart said the COVID-19 Response Fund will quickly distribute funds to critical needs in the region, especially for its most vulnerable residents.
The Foundation will make grants on a rolling basis as fundraising continues through the outbreak and recovery phases of the crisis, making it possible to move resources quickly and adapt to evolving needs.
The affiliates, meanwhile, also did their part as the Escondido Community Foundation donated $17,000, the Carlsbad Charitable Foundation put in $15,000, the Oceanside and Rancho Bernardo charitable foundations each added $10,000 and 4S Ranch-Del Sur chipped in with $1,000.
To donate, visit the San Diego Foundation’s website.
Note: The author is on the Board of Directors for the Carlsbad Charitable Foundation, which is a regional affiliate of The San Diego Foundation.