Empowering Communities Annual Fund 2020

How do you plan for a year like 2020?

Imagine a typical family. Linda and Alan raised a glass to toast the New Year, excited for a new decade. Linda was secure in her job as a Home Health Aide and Alan had an exciting new job as Head Cook at a local restaurant. Their children were soon to begin the second half of first and third grades. They had a small savings account and felt secure in their future. As a family of color from humble beginnings, they were proud of the hurdles they had overcome.

No amount of planning could have prepared any of us for what was to come.

Fast forward to April. Both Linda and Alan lose their jobs due to the impact of COVID-19. Alan finds a new job opportunity, however, the wage is significantly less than other people he knows in similar roles. But Alan stays in the position because his family’s situation is more urgent than seeking fair pay – perpetuating a vicious cycle. Racially inequitable systems disproportionally affect them every step of the way.

Then Linda tests positive for COVID-19, a disease that is ravaging communities of color at a disproportionate rate. Their small nest egg quickly disappears, and the needs of their children, the household and Linda’s medical bills leave them unable to make ends meet. They make their first of many visits to the food pantry and worry constantly about coming up with rent each month. It’s a reality they never imagined.

They had been making progress as a family and now have to face the reality that their race would hold them back from recovering. Systems – housing, health, employment – present the same hurdles they felt they had overcome.

Linda and Alan represent tens of thousands in our region who have found themselves in a precarious situation despite “doing everything right.” These families are why Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) has made building a more equitable community the driving focus of its work. This is our mission, especially during unprecedented times.

Support of GCF’s Empowering Communities Annual Fund ensured we were prepared to take swift action for our neighbors, while also remaining committed to long-term change. Our community leadership positions us to bring our community together, when leadership is needed most. The Empowering Communities Annual Fund has been essential to our building partnerships and convening others to understand and address the immediate and systemic challenges our Greater Cincinnati region faces – so many compounded by the pandemic.

In the first three quarters of 2020 alone, we made the following happen:

  • Housing Our Future: Hamilton County alone has a deficit of 40,000 housing units for our most severely cost burdened residents. To address this wide-spread problem for the region, GCF convened leaders to build a long-term plan for improving accessibility to affordable housing for our community, resulting in a strategic roadmap to address this most significant variable in our poverty equation.
  • Racial Equity Matters, presented by bi3: GCF doubled down on its commitment to addressing the root causes of systemic racism. In partnership with bi3 and other funders, GCF provided racial equity training to over 1,000 individuals in the region and continues to be committed to conversations about race that build connections and move us forward with enhanced insights and shared purpose.
  • COVID-19 Regional Response Fund: Leaning into our deep community network and knowledge, GCF partnered with United Way of Greater Cincinnati to swiftly convene donors, community partners and foundations from across the region to deploy $7.3 million in only three months to over 250 nonprofits directly serving the immediate needs of our community’s most vulnerable residents.
  • And More: To read more about additional initiatives championed by your community foundation, please visit gcfdn.org/community.

Community foundations, like GCF, exist to support the community they serve as needs of the region change over time. GCF is able to take that commitment to the next level because of the support from donors – like you. Your gift to the Empowering Communities Annual Fund will ensure we can continue to step forward as leaders for our community. The challenges in our community are not going to be solved by our grants alone – investing in leadership that empowers the community itself is vital to the alignment needed to create lasting change.

This year has made it clear: now is the time to create a more equitable community where everyone has the opportunity to reach their potential. We must all put our shoulder to the wheel, together. But this work is not possible without our generous supporters. Will you join hundreds of others in our region by contributing to ensure this work continues?

Your generosity matters to our community. Make your gift today.

Thank you for fueling the work that will drive change in our community. Your gift makes a difference.

Gratefully yours,

Ellen M. Katz

P.S. As we embark upon 2021, the Empowering Communities Annual Fund will continue to ensure our community is moving toward one that works for us all – especially people like Linda and Alan. Please give generously today.