In March 2020, Arkansas Community Foundation established a statewide COVID-19 Relief Fund to help connect those that wanted to help with pandemic relief to organizations and nonprofits that needed it most. In addition to accepting donations from the general public, this fund awarded small and large grants to nonprofits and community organizations across the state. All contributions were pooled with contributions from other Arkansans to help our neighbors affected by the pandemic. Grants were awarded in three phases and were categorized into three geographic areas: Northwest, Delta and Statewide.
Total gifts to COVID-19 Relief Fund: $ 3,558,168.
Total grants made from COVID-19 Relief Fund to date: 837 grants totaling $3,120,277, with an emphasis on programs that
- Provide human services assistance (food, transportation, rent/utility assistance, etc.)
- Primarily serve vulnerable populations, including low-income residents, children who are out of school and families without childcare, people who have lost a source of income due to the pandemic, people who are at high risk medically.
- Support small businesses or economic development related to COVID-19
- Disseminate factual safety information to vulnerable communities such as non-English-speaking residents, rural residents, senior citizens, etc.
- Are adapting their operations to meet new needs in the community due to the pandemic
- Provide physical and mental health care needs related to COVID-19
- Deliver services in new ways to accommodate social distancing and other health and safety guidelines or
- Serve an expanded client base, i.e. reaching individuals who are experiencing new economic hardships due to the pandemic.
How were grants from the Arkansas COVID-19 Relief Fund distributed?
- Phase 1 (March 19 – April 14): In the short term, the Fund provided rapid-response grants of $1,000 to nonprofit organizations working on the front lines. This critical funding enabled those organizations to maintain operations and support the increased demand for services. See the list of grantees.
- Phase 2 (April 15 – June 15): In the intermediate term, the Fund awarded Phase Two Adaptation Grants of up to $25,000 to nonprofits and community organizations. These larger grants focused on addressing the ongoing economic needs of Arkansans affected by the pandemic and shoring up critical systems in our state, such as healthcare, emergency food distribution, schools, etc. See the list of grantees.
Following Phase 2 point, we paused our grantmaking from the COVID-19 Relief Fund to assess the ongoing impact of COVID and determine what additional needs emerged. To best make this assessment, we surveyed phase one and two grantees and partnered with the Clinton School of Public Service and UALR School of Public Affairs to conduct a formal survey of nonprofits (the survey was also open for any Arkansas nonprofit.) In addition, Foundation staff participated in learning calls, funder meetings and informational interviews with key leaders in various nonprofit sub-sectors. Although there were many needs across all sub-sectors that continued to surface, several of the major themes we identified included:
- Disproportionate impact of COVID-19 in communities of color
- Support for individual financial needs, including housing and essential household expenses
- Support for small businesses
Phase 3 (June 15 – ongoing): After our first two phases of grantmaking, the Fund has been focused on making targeted grants to a few key issues that have emerged as the pandemic has continued, including housing, support for small businesses, and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 in communities of color.
The Foundation will keep a small balance in the fund so that resources will be available to take immediate action during the next statewide disaster. Maintaining a constant emergency pool enables us to fulfill our duty to our communities to be there when disaster strikes. Prior to the pandemic, this was our general practice. This allowed us to open the COVID-19 Relief Fund in March and immediately open the Phase 1 mini-grant opportunity. (This was before any COVID-related donations were received from the public or other funders.)
While Arkansas Community Foundation does not make direct grants to individuals, we can and do award funding to nonprofit organizations that provide individual financial assistance to their clients.
See our Gratitude Report for a list of generous donors to the COVID-19 Relief Fund.