The crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic is evolving every day. As it unfolds, certain areas of need swell and take on greater urgency—often because they are falling through the cracks of available services and support. Grantmaking from the COVID-19 Response Fund is designed to address these growing and underserved needs. In these gaps, philanthropy can maximize its impact.
In March, we rapidly deployed nearly $10.2 million to community-based organizations that were working on the frontlines to support people facing reduced or lost work, financial inability to meet their basic needs, barriers to healthcare, as well as fear and confusion. This first phase of investments supported vulnerable workers and families navigating the immediate economic and health impacts of the pandemic.
In recent weeks, we augmented Phase 1 funding with an additional set of grants that helped further address mounting food insecurity in our region. With long lines and limited stock, food banks are struggling to meet skyrocketing demand. These food security grants, which totaled $850,000, complemented the work of the WA Food Fund, providing auxiliary support while our region waits for federal resources to arrive. The grants went to organizations that are helping individuals and families overcome transportation barriers, access culturally specific food, and maintain religious dietary restrictions, such as those observed during Ramadan.
In Phase 2, grants will continue to focus on community-based organizations supporting vulnerable workers and families—people who face longstanding economic and racial inequities that have been made worse by the current crisis. To identify the priority populations and focus areas for these grants, we synthesized data from an array of sources, listened to trusted experts on the frontlines, and researched the many complementary funds helping our community navigate the current crisis. Totaling $6,000,000, three distinct tracks of funding will support childcare, mental and behavioral health, and emergency financial assistance.
Phase 2 Priority Populations
- People who will be missed by public funding opportunities, including undocumented immigrants and refugees
- People who are essential workers without health supports, childcare, and other necessary services
- People of color who are experiencing disparate health impacts
As we move into Phase 2 and further refine the focus of our dollars, we are not only seeking out places where philanthropy can add the most value, we are also taking care to ensure that the Fund’s work is based in trust and community. While people who are most impacted by the pandemic will continue to guide our grantmaking, the constantly changing landscape of needs calls for an evolution of the Fund’s advisory body. Learn more about the new advisory group that will counsel the COVID-19 Response Fund through the end of the year, as well as the limited-time groups of experts who will supplement their guidance.
Childcare providers are a backbone of our community. Right now, they are making it possible for parents with essential jobs—healthcare workers, grocery clerks, transit drivers, and cleaning staff—to work on the frontlines, teaching and caring for our region’s youngest learners while complying with increased social and health regulations. Thirty-six percent of frontline workers in Washington are parents who depend on some type of childcare to maintain their own employment.
Childcare providers are navigating a complex challenge. School closures have created an increase in demand for their services, yet some facilities have seen attendance decrease due to social distancing. New health and safety requirements have created additional expenses, leaving childcare providers in a difficult position as they try to retain their workers on thin profit margins. While public funding supports care for the children of essential workers, evening and weekend care as well as infant care remain a challenge. Given the significant cost of childcare before the crisis, now it’s even harder for low-income families to find reliable, culturally responsive care for their children.
Many childcare facilities are also in danger of permanent closure. Without adequate federal funding, Washington could lose 29% of its childcare supply, straining an already overburdened system. Before the crisis, there were 3.78 children per childcare slot; after, there could be 5.32 children per slot. Our community and economy need both childcare centers and home-based care to survive so they will be there when our economy reopens and non-essential workers return to work. As we recover, we need to ensure that those who are most vulnerable have the care they need.
Funding Criteria and Eligibility
Childcare grants will focus on the access and affordability of childcare through grants to service providers and systems coordination efforts that support Phase 2’s priority populations. Learn more about the criteria for these grants.
Grants will be curated by a table of childcare experts that includes Phase 1 grantees, Fund Partners, and intermediaries who are deeply knowledgeable about the childcare system. This group is working with Seattle Foundation staff to guide the priorities and grant decisions through an abbreviated process. Grantees will be announced in early June.
There is not an open application for this track of funding. If you wish, you may email us to make sure we are aware of your organization’s work supporting access to childcare for vulnerable workers and families.
The mental health system is besieged right now as people deal with profound uncertainty, financial hardship, and isolation, in addition to greater threats of intimate partner violence and child abuse. One national crisis hotline received nine times more calls in March 2020 than it did during the same period last year.
The overall increase in emotional and psychological stress caused by the pandemic is particularly acute among vulnerable communities who already experienced higher rates of behavioral health issues. Prior to this crisis, for example, low-income adults in King County were 15 times more likely to have experienced recent serious psychological distress than high-income adults. Meanwhile, care facilities are racing to adopt tele-health technology, people are losing their healthcare, and cultural stigma about mental health support is deep and persistent, making mental health services that much harder to access.
Funding Criteria and Eligibility
Mental and behavioral health grants will focus on direct services for individuals and families in Phase 2’s priority populations who are experiencing trauma. Learn more about the criteria for these grants.
Grants will be curated by a table of mental and behavioral health experts that includes Phase 1 grantees, Fund Partners and intermediaries who are deeply knowledgeable about the mental health system. This group is working with Seattle Foundation staff to guide the priorities and grant decisions through an abbreviated process. Grantees will be announced in early June.
There is not an open application for this track of funding. If you wish, you may email us to make sure we are aware of your organization’s work supporting access to mental and behavioral health for vulnerable workers and families.
Data and community input consistently cite basic needs as the most significant priority on the ground right now. The current economic crisis has left many people without enough resources for food, housing, utilities, prescriptions and medical costs, transportation expenses, and other day-to-day essentials such as diapers, household supplies, and hygiene products.
Many of the vulnerable workers and families in our community have been left out of federal stimulus support. For example, the CARES Act excludes both undocumented residents and mixed-status households in which at least one member is undocumented. Washington is home to more than 240,000 undocumented immigrants and 170,000 citizens in Washington live in a household with an undocumented resident—which means 400,000 Washington families are potentially ineligible for stimulus support due to immigration. Yet undocumented immigrants contribute more than $316 million in taxes ever year. When undocumented people lose their jobs, they often have nowhere to turn for financial support. Philanthropy can mitigate this enormous problem by supporting community-based organizations with strong, trusting relationships to immigrant and refugee communities.
Funding Criteria and Eligibility
Emergency financial assistance grants will focus on organizations that leverage relationships with community, trusted leaders, and service providers to support access to immediate basic needs for Phase 2’s priority populations. Grants for individual organizations will range from $25,000 to $100,000. Grant amounts for coalitions will be considered differently based on the scope and scale of the coalition’s membership. Learn more about the criteria for these grants.
To ensure broad access to this funding opportunity, Phase 2 emergency financial assistance grants will be made through an abbreviated application process. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis and the application will close on May 29. Apply here.