Mar 27, 2020
How to support communities across Massachusetts
Organizations across Massachusetts are mobilizing to aid their communities, amid a perfect storm of rising need, shuttered offices and a dearth of volunteers, advocates say.
The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network surveyed more than 950 Massachusetts nonprofits from March 11-18 and found over 95% of respondents reported already seeing an impact from COVID-19.
More than 89% had reported having to cancel revenue driving events and programming, and 67% reported a disruption of services to clients. Nearly half reported a decrease in volunteers – and that was only one week into Gov. Charlie Baker’s declaration of a state of emergency on March 10.
Since then, seniors are facing increasing risk, children are out of school and working families are losing wages due to widespread closures.
“During these trying times, our neighbors and communities need our help more than ever,”
says Jeff Bellows, president of corporate citizenship and public affairs of the nonprofit health plan Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, which supports organizations that promote healthy living across the state.
Want to donate? Here are vetted relief funds that are supporting communities across Massachusetts.
- Funds raised will go to local organizations and nonprofits that support food access, technology for at-home learning and support for healthcare workers and first responders, including childcare.
- A shared local aid effort to provide resources and support for the Cambridge community.
- To support nonprofits helping those affected by the outbreak, the fund will award one-time operating grants on a rolling basis.
- A shared local aid effort to provide resources and support for the Jamaica Plain and Roxbury communities.
- A shared local aid effort from the MAMAS network to provide resources and support for the Medford and Somerville communities.
- United Way established a COVID-19 Family Support Fund, offering one-time grants of up to $2,000 to help families affected by the crisis meet their basic needs.
Left: On March 26, the Greater Lawrence Community Action Council, an organization supported by United Way of Merrimack Valley and Mass Bay, held a pop-up pantry that distributed gift cards, groceries and diapers to 119 families.
Right: Family Aid Boston, an organization supported by United Way of Merrimack Valley and Mass Bay, packed food, supplies, toiletries and hygiene products to distribute to 1,600 families.
- The West Roxbury Civic and Improvement Association is raising money to help West Roxbury families cope with school closures by collecting and distributing gift cards, cash or food donations to help families in need of essentials.
- GWCF is holding a fundraising effort to support organizations with deep roots in the community that are helping those disproportionally affected by the coronavirus.
- This partnership with the City of Framingham provides emergency funds directly to organizations working to facilitate direct access to hunger relief efforts in Framingham.
- MetroWest Emergency Relief Fund will award one-time operating grants to nonprofits addressing the most immediate needs or experiencing significant financial challenges due to closures during broad-based community emergencies.
- The We Care Fund provides a safety net for those who are in the greatest need during this emerging health emergency.
- Essex County’s COVID-19 Response Fund will provide financial resources to nonprofit organizations working with communities that are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and the economic consequences of the outbreak.
- GLCF is asking for donations to support vulnerable populations affected by the outbreak within the Lowell community.
- Established by the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts, alongside other regional partners, the fund will support and provide resources to organizations in the region that have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus.
- United Way of Greater New Bedford is mobilizing funding, resources, and programs for those affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) in the communities of New Bedford, Dartmouth, Acushnet, Fairhaven, Freetown, Rochester, Marion, Mattapoisett and Wareham.
South Shore and the Islands
- MCRF provides humanitarian aid to local individuals and families. Addressing critical, long-term needs that are unmet by traditional forms of private and public disaster aid, their services include financial aid for food, housing, transportation and medical/mental healthcare.
- The Community Foundation of Nantucket offsets the cost of feeding school children who qualify for free and reduced lunch and provides discretionary grants to support local nonprofits.
- Berkshire Taconic and the Berkshire United Way launched the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund for Berkshire County to provide flexible resources to nonprofit organizations in Berkshire County working with communities who are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus and the economic consequences of this outbreak. Grants will help fund frontline human services organizations that have deep roots in the community and strong experience working with vulnerable populations.
- The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts will use all funds raised to support nonprofits in the Pioneer Valley.
In recent weeks, Blue Cross has Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and its Foundation have committed over $4.92 million in financial support to COVID-19 relief efforts, along with a pledge of pro bono and in-kind support surpassing $4.83 million in value for a total community investment of $9.75 million.
That includes funds to regional relief funds, including Boston Resiliency Fund, United Way of Mass Bay and Merrimack Valley COVID-19 Family Support Fund, Greater Worcester Community Foundation, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, Southcoast Emergency Response Fund and Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts.
In addition to funding relief efforts, Blue Cross is honoring all financial commitments for community events that have had to be cancelled or postponed, and is making mini-grants to organizations with whom they had planned National Volunteer Month events in April. The insurer also has also launched an online giving platform and matching gift program to double employees donations to nonprofits of their choice and has created virtual volunteer initiatives, including remote skills-based volunteering, college mentoring with Strive for College, warm wish notes with Cradles to Crayons and virtual storytelling with Message of Hope Foundation.
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