BCF COVID-19 Response Update #2

April 01, 2020

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Did you hear our incredible Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performing the end of Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 virtually to lift our spirits? Did you read about our entrepreneurial maker community mobilizing to make face shields for medical workers? Did you see the grassroots community leaders jump into action to ensure seniors and vulnerable families have food in their pantries?  Did you donate to our COVID-19 Evolving Community Needs Fund or another local nonprofit to support our neighbors in need during this difficult time? The generosity, ingenuity, and determination of our Baltimore community is boundless. It is what sustains us at BCF, and makes our work both possible and effective. With the generosity of our donors and the ingenuity of the communities we serve, we will get through this together.  

Marshalling Resources  

BCF has opened three funds to assist with the regional response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Each fund has a specific purpose and we will ensure that efforts are complementary and not duplicative:  

COVID-19 Evolving Community Needs Fund  

On Friday, March 13, we opened the COVID-19 Evolving Community Needs Fund to enable rapid response to mitigate the effects of the public health emergency our region is currently facing. One hundred percent of all donated funds will go directly to address the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our region’s communities, workforce, and vulnerable populations. BCF’s executive committee voted immediately to the seed the new fund with $50,000 from our unrestricted grant making funds. As of March 31, 2020, we are humbled and grateful to have raised nearly $1.2 million for this response effort.   

Baltimore COVID-19 Food Security Fund  

On Monday, March 16, at the request of several of the Baltimore region’s largest corporate employers, we opened a Donor Advised Fund called the Baltimore COVID-19 Food Security Fund. This fund will support the corporate sector’s employee giving efforts by accepting direct employee contributions in support of a larger public-private systems level response to address food insecurity resulting from the pandemic.   

Baltimore County COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund  

On Tuesday, March 31, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski announced the launch of the Baltimore County COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, which will support the County’s efforts to promote public health and support residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund will be managed by the Baltimore Community Foundation, and County leadership will determine how the fund is allocated.  

Deploying Resources  

While fundraising continues for COVID-19 relief efforts, BCF moved quickly to deploy existing resources to address immediate needs focused on providing credible information to vulnerable populations, and meeting basic human needs.   

To ensure vulnerable populations receive accurate information from credible sources, stem the spread of the virus into the homeless shelter system, and prevent unnecessary trips to emergency departments, BCF awarded two initial grants.  With BCF support:  

Healthcare for the Homeless launched, on Friday March 20, a phone hotline to support universal screening procedures at the city’s four homeless shelters in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus into the shelter system. Medical providers and community health workers will provide guidance to further assess suspected positive screens and trigger city transport to partner hospitals for testing and isolation.   

Esperanza Center, in collaboration with Johns Hopkins Centro Sol, on Monday, March 30, launched a dedicated Spanish-language hotline to provide phone-based, COVID-19 health triage to the Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Anne Arundel County communities.    

To address the immediate challenges families in Baltimore City and Baltimore County are facing meeting basic human needs, including food and other household essentials, BCF awarded small grants of between $500-$5,000 to eighteen community-based organizations that are doing grassroots, neighbor-to-neighbor response to care for vulnerable seniors and families in need of essential supplies such as diapers, formula, food, and hygiene products, while larger systemic responses are getting underway. BCF also awarded a grant to the Student Support Network of Baltimore County to distribute food at eight school sites around the county.   

Responding to Community Needs  

Last week, BCF stood up a COVID-19 resource page on our website, including a Nonprofit Evolving Community Needs Tool to gather information from those on the front lines of the response effort and to inform our funding priorities and decisions. BCF staff worked with all grantees awarded funding in the last two weeks to set up electronic transfers of funds, so as to enable resources to reach bank accounts quickly and ensure continuity of operations in the event agency staff cannot get to their offices to open mail.     

You can stay up to date about BCF’s evolving response to COVID-19 on our website, where we will post regular updates about the deployment of resources and other collaborative efforts to ensure an effective regional response.  

All of us at BCF thank you for sharing in our commitment to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on our most vulnerable neighbors and to build stronger communities, even in a time of social distancing.    




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