Seattle Foundation Blog

Puget Sound-area philanthropy, government, and business come together to establish COVID-19 Response Fund

Partnership includes Seattle Foundation, United Way of King County, King County, City of Seattle, Alaska Airlines, Amazon, Microsoft, and The Starbucks Foundation

March 09, 2020

SEATTLE, WA — A coalition of philanthropy, government, and business partners has joined together to create a COVID-19 Response Fund that will rapidly deploy resources to community-based organizations at the frontlines of the region’s coronavirus outbreak. The Fund is designed to complement the work of public health officials and expand local capacity to address the outbreak as effectively as possible.

As of today’s launch, contributions from the Fund’s lead partners total more than $2.5 million. Individuals and organizations are encouraged to donate via

Hosted by Seattle Foundation, the COVID-19 Response Fund will provide flexible resources to organizations in our region working with communities who are disproportionately impacted by coronavirus and the economic consequences of this outbreak. One-time operating grants will fund organizations that have deep roots in community and strong experience working with residents without health insurance and/or access to sick days, people with limited English language proficiency, healthcare and gig economy workers, and communities of color, among others.

The first phase of rapid-response grants will increase resiliency in disproportionately affected communities by addressing the economic impact of reduced and lost work due to the broader COVID-19 outbreak; the immediate needs of economically vulnerable populations caused by COVID-19 related closures; the increased demand for medical information and support; and fear and confusion about the outbreak among our most vulnerable residents. The Fund expects to move an initial round of grants within the next few weeks.

Seattle Foundation will administer grants from the Fund in partnership with United Way of King County and in close collaboration with King County’s Pandemic Community Advisory Group. Together they will proactively identify potential grant recipients, solicit guidance on potential recipients from community advisors, and recommend final awards. Funds will be released on a rolling basis as fundraising continues throughout the outbreak and recovery phases of the crisis, making it possible to move resources quickly and adapt to evolving needs in subsequent funding phases. Additional Fund partners include Philanthropy Northwest, Satterberg Foundation, and Social Venture Partners.


“COVID-19 represents a battle on two fronts—a public health crisis and a threat to the economic stability of so many in our region,” said Seattle Foundation President and CEO Tony Mestres. “While we are all dealing with the effects of this outbreak, some of our neighbors face disproportionate challenges around time off work, the cost of care, and reliable access to information. Through this Fund and thanks to the generous support of our partners, we want to make sure everyone in our community has the support they need, regardless of race, place, income, or identity.”

“The COVID-19 Response Fund is an important step in making sure we care for our most vulnerable neighbors during the outbreak. United Way knows that far too many people in King County are living just a missed paycheck away from hunger and homelessness,” said Gordon McHenry, Jr., CEO of United Way of King County. “I’m proud to live in a community that is acting quickly to get resources where they are needed most.”

"The resiliency of our community is being tested by the outbreak, and it’s on each of us to respond as best we can to slow the outbreak, and support one another,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “This effort, led by the Seattle Foundation and business and community leaders from across our region, will help support those whose livelihoods are undermined by this public health challenge. We are grateful to these community partners for stepping up.”

“Seattle is resilient and we have a deep-rooted tradition of looking out for one another, especially in tough times. The City is proud to stand in partnership with government, business, and philanthropic leaders as we help those who are most vulnerable,” said Mayor Durkan. “From day one, my office and City departments have been focused on ensuring those who are most vulnerable, including seniors and those experiencing homelessness, and non-English speaking communities, have the information they need to limit their exposure to COVID-19 and stay safe. As we look forward, it is going to take all of us to prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19, and to address the real economic impacts of this public health emergency.”

“Our region has faced many challenges over the years, and this coronavirus is no exception,” said Brad Tilden, Alaska Airlines Chairman & CEO. “All 23,000 of us at Alaska are focused on keeping employees and guests safe every day, and we are optimistic about our future.  We’re proud to join the city, county, and partners across our region support this fund for those with the greatest needs.”

“There are urgent needs across the Puget Sound region, and it’s particularly important that the most vulnerable in society are supported during this difficult time for our community,” said David Zapolsky, Amazon SVP and General Counsel. “The COVID-19 Response Fund is an excellent example of nonprofits, governments, and businesses coming together quickly with an innovative approach to an unprecedented issue.”

“As our community focuses on public health needs during the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s important that we also rally together to address the unmet economic needs developing around us,” said Brad Smith, Microsoft President. “At Microsoft, our hope is that this new fund will help to strengthen the community’s safety net through this crisis, and we encourage others—including corporate, government and philanthropic sectors – to come together to help those who are most vulnerable.”


Seattle Foundation ignites powerful, rewarding philanthropy to make Greater Seattle a stronger, more vibrant community for all. As a community foundation, it works to advance equity, shared prosperity, and belonging throughout the region while strengthening the impact of the philanthropists it serves. Founded in 1946 and with more than $1.1 billion in assets, the Foundation pursues its mission with a combination of deep community insight, civic leadership, philanthropic advising and judicious financial stewardship.


Seattle Foundation: Michele Frix at or 206.617.7281 (mobile)



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