Across the region, nonprofit organizations are on the frontlines in this COVID-19 crisis, providing essential support to communities and families most hard hit by the health and economic impacts of this pandemic. They are doing so under extraordinary pressure with extraordinary commitment. Demands are exponentially high. Staff and volunteers are at risk of exposure to the virus. For example, many homeless shelters have seen almost half of staff and residents test positive for coronavirus. Likewise, their very survival is at risk at a time when fundraising activities they rely on to do their work and pay their staff have been put off or canceled.
Even with all of those challenges, nonprofits are having a tremendous impact. The Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund has made nearly $9 million in emergency grants to more than 140 nonprofits over the last month. Each week the Greater Chicago Food Depository is providing nearly 20,000 boxes of healthy food for individuals and families in need throughout Chicago and Cook County. El Valor is providing supplies and financial assistance to 100s of community residents daily, and several staff members volunteered to move into the organization’s home for adults with disabilities so they could provide around-the-clock care. The Resident Association of Greater Englewood is delivering groceries, making wellness calls, and providing direct financial assistance to families to cover household expenses.
Stories like these are uplifting and inspiring, but they also illustrate just how vast needs are during this time of emergency response. Nearly 750 organizations applied to the Chicago region response fund for grant funding in the last two weeks. And that is just one. Funds to sustain nonprofits serving arts organizations, immigrants and people with disabilities are seeing the same kind of demand.
When we emerge from the crisis, the road to recovery for our residents and communities will be long and hard. Nonprofits will be on the frontlines then too. They will be partnering with private and public sector partners to jumpstart neighborhood investment. They will be advocating for systems and policy reform to ensure we build back better. They will still be meeting the critical needs of those hit hardest by COVID-19, even as they are among the hardest hit themselves.
We urge you to join Giving Tuesday Now, dig deeper than you have before, and help keep our nonprofits alive. We cannot get through this without them.