Janice Brumit and Lakesha West of the Dogwood Health Trust

Dogwood Health Trust chair Janice Brumit and Lakesha McDay, the foundation’s human resources manager. Dogwood is part of a group of Western North Carolina foundations pooling efforts in response to coronavirus, as similar groups are doing in other regions. Photo courtesy of Dogwood Health Trust

North Carolina’s nonprofit organizations and foundations are mobilizing their resources as the coronavirus pandemic affects the needs of individuals and families in the state’s 100 counties.

This week, more than 100 nonprofits held a teleconference led by the N.C. Center for Nonprofits and the N.C. Network of Grantmakers to discuss strategies that can help speed funding for critical community services during a time of crisis.

The call was initiated so nonprofits could provide “any support that they can for the immediate health emergency” as well as prepare for the longer-term needs that communities will face as a result of disruptions caused by the virus, said David Heinen, vice president for public policy and advocacy at the 1,400-member nonprofits center.

COVID-19 NC news

The Raleigh-based center is coordinating response efforts with Gov. Roy Cooper’s office and other state leaders and has launched an online survey to hear what local agencies believe are the most pressing concerns that warrant immediate support.

Heinen said more than 400 responses to the survey were received in its first 36 hours.

The survey, launched Monday, has now been opened up to the N.C. Network of Grantmakers and its grantees to assess on-the-ground needs more precisely. The network encompasses 115 foundations and corporate giving programs.

“As we’ve seen in previous recessions, the demand for services skyrockets during and even after a recession,” Heinen said. “So people out of work, they need more food assistance, they need more assistance to pay for rent, affordable housing, they need reduced-cost child care.”

Quick funding is required to ensure such needs are met, he added.

Emerging partnerships of foundations

In Western North Carolina, eight funding organizations have banded together to create the Emergency and Disaster Response Fund.

Led by The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, the fund will use a growing, dedicated pool of money to make grants to applicants on a weekly basis.

Initial funding was provided by CFWNC and by the $1.5 billion Dogwood Health Trust, which was created last year out of the HCA-Mission Health merger, as well as the Biltmore Lake Charitable Fund, Ramble Charitable Fund, the Wells Fargo Foundation and three area health foundations also created from the Mission merger — AMY Wellness Foundation, Pisgah Health Foundation and WNC Bridge Foundation.

“This fund was really created to provide a way to coordinate and distribute quickly as many grants as we could,” CFWNC communications director Lindsay Hearn said.

Grants made by the new fund will address “basic needs exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic” and will help fill “public health gaps.”

Similarly, officials from United Way Forsyth County, The Winston-Salem Foundation, city of Winston-Salem, Forsyth County and Community Organizations Active in Disaster have formed the COVID-19 Response Fund. Resources will be provided for “immediate, emerging and long-term needs” to organizations working with stakeholders who are “disproportionately impacted” by the coronavirus, the coalition said.

Initial funding will be targeted to individuals without health insurance or access to paid sick leave, the homeless, health care workers, hospital and service industry workers, “unauthorized” immigrant populations and communities of color.

Additional regional partnerships to address the impact of the coronavirus are expected to be announced soon.

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Neil Cotiaux is a contributing writer for Carolina Public Press. He is based in Wilmington. Send an email to info@carolinapublicpress.org to contact him.

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