COVID-19 community relief fund awards more than $7.3M in grants

More than $7.3 million has been awarded to 46 not-for-profits from a new community economic relief fund organized to help individuals and families affected by COVID-19.

The grants announced Tuesday range from $20,000 to $750,000 and were awarded to human service organizations in Boone, Hancock, Hamilton, Hendricks, Marion and Morgan counties that are focused on the economic distress associated with the novel coronavirus, which has caused temporary closures of schools, businesses and organizations in Indiana.

The first funding round, totaling $7,305,000, prioritized child care for health care workers and first responders, food access, homeless shelters, resources for seniors and immigrants, disaster planning and infrastructure support, and multi-service neighborhood centers.

The fund, called the Central Indiana COVID-19 Community Economic Relief Fund, is led by the United Way of Central Indiana. The fund still has more than $17.8 million after the initial funding round.

It launched March 13 with a $15 million donation from Lilly Endowment Inc. The Central Indiana Community Foundation (through the Glick Fund and the Indianapolis Foundation), Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, Eli Lilly and Co. Foundation and United Way of Central Indiana also are founding partners.

The two biggest grants in the first funding round went to Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana and Second Helpings, which both received $750,000.

The YMCA of Greater Indianapolis and At Your School each received $400,000.

Ten not-for-profits received $250,000 each: American Red Cross of Greater Indianapolis, Catholic Charities Indianapolis, Early Learning Indiana, Edna Martin Christian Center, Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana, John H. Boner Neighborhood Centers, the Julian Center, Midwest Food Bank, the Salvation Army and Wheeler Mission Ministries.

“At this moment, our community is feeling the impact of layoffs and other job losses, increased child care needs due to school closures, and significant food shortages for our most vulnerable neighbors,” Ronni Kloth, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for community development, said in a written statement. “We hope that this first wave of funding can help these organizations begin to address these and other critical needs.”

The new fund is modeled after the Community Economic Relief Fund, which was established in 2008 during the Great Recession. The fund provided similar support for organizations and individuals as the economy recovered.

The grants announced Tuesday are unrestricted, which gives not-for-profits flexibility in how to spend the money.

The exact timeline for the next round of funding has not yet been determined, but the fund is continuing to accept contributions. Individuals may donate to the fund by texting HELP2020 to 91999 or by visiting covid19cerf.org.

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