Responding to COVID-19: $2.2M Community Impact

When need arises in our community, we’re on it. As the coronavirus pandemic brought business shutdowns and stay-at-home orders, Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) knew that immediate action was critical. Our donors wanted to connect with funding opportunities ensuring the most impact. Our nonprofit partners sought resources to address new, urgent – even life-dependent – needs. Our most vulnerable neighbors needed right-now relief as they faced job loss, eviction and other crises.

The disproportionate impact of the pandemic upon people of color quickly became apparent as well, and GCF’s focus on racial equity helped to inform our response.

In just three months, GCF deployed $2.2 million in funding to hundreds of organizations in our community to help thousands of tri-state residents. Our donors also stepped up to the need in a major way. From March through May donor grants were up nearly 90 percent from the same period last year, totaling $19,295,632.

In March GCF joined with United Way of Greater Cincinnati to activate the COVID-19 Regional Response Fund (RRF). We contributed $500,000 and, along with our community funding partners, raised and distributed $7.2 million by early June to help those in our communities most affected by the health, economic, education, housing and social impacts of the pandemic. GCF donors generously contributed $1,076,351 of that amount.

From Council on Aging, Learning Grove, Shared Harvest Foodbank and Santa Maria Community Services to Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Greater Cincinnati, Inc. (HOME) and tri-state hospital systems, the fund spread a wide blanket of support covering every age group throughout our region.

GCF also pivoted the focus of our annual Providing a Safety Net Request for Proposals (RFP). We accelerated the timing to award $880,000 to 20 organizations in early April, authorizing them to utilize the funding in whatever ways best addressed issues caused or amplified by COVID-19.

We brought that pandemic-generated shift to our Creating Inclusive Communities (CIC) grants, too. GCF awarded $400,000 in April to 25 organizations, convened through our CIC Cohort, that work with people in our region living with physical and developmental disabilities.

GCF also awarded $187,277 Summertime Kids grants in April – supported by the Charles H. Dater Foundation and our donors – to help fund 190 fun, enriching learning programs for children and youth throughout our region. This year these programs are more important than ever to help reduce summer learning loss and benefit children with the greatest needs. The grants may also be used to adjust program formats and schedules due to the pandemic and provide basic needs for participants.

Our grants to ArtsWave’s African American Arts Grants Program and 3CDC’s Cincy Card Connection reflect GCF’s racial equity focus as well. ArtsWave’s program will support competitive grants for organizations to sustain and advance black arts and culture; the 3CDC program focused on gift card purchases to sustain downtown and Over-the-Rhine minority- and female-owned businesses.

Read more about the impact of our grantmaking initiatives here.