Building a Bigger Table: COVID Response Funds Across the South

Taylor Chapman and Katie Sonnen-Lee
Program Associates

“If you are more fortunate than others, build a longer table, not a taller fence.” - Unknown 

 While it has been said COVID19 doesn’t discriminate – anyone from any background can be affected by the virus – this sentiment doesn’t tell the whole story. The virus has and will continue to disproportionately affect our most marginalized communities. The South is home to uniquely vulnerable people and their families – people of color, undocumented folks, people with disabilities and underlying health conditions, poor and working-class people, and many more. We are seeking to support Southern organizations pursuing bold and swift actions to protect the communities who have the most to lose.  

As detailed in a previous article, the Babcock Foundation responded to the COVID crisis by making emergency grants to all grantee partners, extended an additional year of general operating support and adjusted our funding for community development financial institutions. We have also contributed to several mutual aid and rapid response funds working to meet the needs of vulnerable communities around the region. While this is not an exhaustive list of all the good work going on around the South to respond to this crisis, it begins to map out some of the incredible work organizations are doing to support our neighbors in this painful moment. 

Arkansas Community Foundation
The COVID-19 Relief Fund provides rapid-response grants to nonprofits addressing the ongoing economic needs of Arkansans affected by the pandemic and shoring up critical systems such as healthcare, emergency food distribution, schools and more. 

Arkansas Impact Philanthropy
AIP is helping nonprofits across the state adjust their census outreach plans with a strong emphasis on the health and safety of their staff.

Asian American Advancing Justice-Atlanta
AAAJA is supporting the social, mental, financial, and physical health and well-being of black, indigenous, Latinx and Asian communities across Georgia. 

Black Belt Community Foundation
The Black Belt Community Foundation has launched a fund to support nonproifts addressing immediate needs in a 12-county stretch of rural Alabama.

Coastal Community Foundation
The COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund supports communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic in a nine-county region of South Carolina. It provides flexible resources to organizations working with priority groups, including senior citizens, children, health-compromised people, and workers in the hospitality and tourism industry.

Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta
 The Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund is providing flexible resources to organizations working with communities hit especially hard in a 23-county region, particularly seniors, families with children who receive free or reduced school meals, families in need of childcare, homeowners and renters at risk for eviction, and hourly/low-wage workers.

Community Foundation of Greater Memphis
The Mid-South COVID-19 Regional Response Fund provides flexible funding to organizations in the western Tennessee, eastern Arkansas and northern Mississippi serving people affected by reduced and lost wages, immediate needs of economically vulnerable populations, increased demand for medical information and support, and fear and confusion about the outbreak among the region’s most vulnerable residents.

Community Foundation of Greenville
The COVID-19 Community Relief Fund supports local nonprofits responding to physical and mental health, and economic impacts of the pandemic in Greenville County, South Carolina. One hundred percent of the funds go directly into the community to provide food, shelter, childcare, sanitary/hygiene supplies and financial assistance.

Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children
FFLIC’s COVID response includes online healing justice workshops, increased staff and crisis outreach capacity, and media and communications efforts.

Foundation for Louisiana
Support is targeted to low-wage workers, hourly workers and healthcare workers, communities of color and LGBTQ communities, currently and formerly incarcerated individuals, including undocumented individuals, single parents and those who live at these intersections. 

Institute for Southern Studies
ISS is a nonprofit research and media center focused on democracy and community change in the South. It is responding to COVID through multiple strategies, including promoting voting rights and civic engagement.

A Just Florence Recovery
A Just Florence Recovery provides flexible funding to anchor community organizations already helping families in eastern North Carolina. During the pandemic, the fund is expanding its network and increasing the resiliency of communities in Eastern North Carolina. Its is a project of Blueprint NC.

Latino Community Development Center
Latino CDC, working with Latino Credit Union, has established an emergency solidarity fund to provide loans to families who may not qualify for state or federal stimulus programs. 

Latino Community Fund
The COVID-19 Emergency Fund provides emergency help, food and financial assistance for immigrant families in crisis in Georgia. It prioritizes families who do not qualify for state or federal relief, families with no work or limited/temporary work, families with members with symptoms, at high-risk or with children, and families withoug reliable transportation.

NC Collaborative for Strong Latinx Communities
NCCSLC is supporting nonprofits providing basic needs like rent, food and cash payments directly to families. (The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro serves as its fiscal sponsor.)

Siembra NC
The Immigrant Solidarity Fund provides emergency cash assistance to immigrants dealing with ICE detention and loss of income due to COVID in a six-county area of North Carolina. (Mijente Support Committee serves as its fiscal sponsor.)

We are Down Home
The Down Home Mutual Aid Fund is helping rural, low-wealth families and communities of color in the central and western parts of North Carolina cover basic expenses. Down Home also is offering part-time employment to some of its members affected by the economic downturn. 

Winston-Salem Foundation
Grants fund nonprofits with to help with the immediate needs of families without health insurance and/or access to paid sick leave, individuals experiencing homelessness, healthcare workers, hospitality and service industry workers, people who do not qualify for state or federal assistance, communities of color, and residents with limited English language proficiency.

One sentiment that continues to echo across sectors is the desire to return to normalcy following the crisis. However, this pandemic has made clearer what we already knew to be true: The status quo does not support all of us. If our communities are suffering under “normal” conditions, we have a moral obligation to create a new normal, to fundamentally reimagine what it means to be in community with one another. Audre Lorde writes, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” If one of our neighbors is vulnerable, so follow the rest of us. As we support organizations addressing immediate needs, we will continue long-term investments in those building an inclusive South that cares for all its people.

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