The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust and other funders based in Forsyth County are among the regional charitable groups and foundations heavily investing in coronavirus relief efforts. Seen here, the Winston-Salem skyline. Photo courtesy of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust

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In the world of philanthropy, “response fund” is the catchphrase of the year.

Increasingly, established charitable foundations across the country and in North Carolina are coming together to combine their funds, seek new donations, step up their giving schedules, and meet the social and medical needs of the marginalized in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Both big-name and lesser-known foundations are joining forces with other local charities across regions, counties and metropolitan areas to capitalize on their combined assets and deliver funds quickly.

And, while not forming partnerships, some existing foundations are working alongside such newly partnered organizations and being just as purposeful.

This week, the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, one of the largest private foundations in the state, announced $1.5 million in immediate funding to address issues related to COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, in Forsyth County and throughout North Carolina.

“It’s urgent that we help our most vulnerable residents and those living in marginalized communities, who are less likely to have access to quality health care and more likely to suffer long-term consequences such as loss of health or income from this widespread health crisis,” said Laura Gerald, the trust’s president.

The trust has granted $1 million to the N.C. Healthcare Association Foundation. Of that amount, half will go to hospitals, one-quarter to free and charitable clinics, and another $250,000 to the N.C. Community Health Center Association.

The funds may be used for a variety of needs, including medical supplies, personal protective equipment, testing kits and telehealth solutions, the announcement said.

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The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust also gave another $500,000 to the COVID-19 Response Fund for Forsyth County.

At its headquarters in Rocky Mount, the Golden LEAF Foundation, another charitable giant, is deploying $15 million to launch a COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Loan Program.

The initiative will provide loans of up to $50,000 at zero interest for six months followed by 5.5% interest for 48 months to offer relief to businesses as a result of the health crisis.

“The Golden LEAF board of directors is making funds available to help meet the immediate needs of businesses affected by the pandemic by building upon a model used following hurricanes Matthew, Florence and Dorian,” said Bo Biggs, the board chair.

“This program is designed to assist businesses working to apply for (a Small Business Administration) economic injury loan or other commercial loans but that have more immediate needs for capital.”

In Charlotte, the Foundation for the Carolinas and United Way launched their combined COVID-19 Response Fund last week. Lending Tree, with headquarters in the Queen City, and the Charlotte City Council got the fund off the ground with a combined $2 million contribution.

Charlotte’s response fund now stands at just over $10 million to toward relief efforts, thanks to a $1 million donation from Coca-Cola Consolidated, announced Tuesday.

The fund is administered by the foundation and United Way in coordination with the city and Mecklenburg County. A variety of corporations, individuals and houses of faith are supporting the initiative. Grants will be made on an expedited basis if warranted, and funding is restricted to Mecklenburg County organizations.

“Local agencies and nonprofits are already feeling the strain to deal with increased needs as the local economy tightens, workers are asked to stay home, school cancellations cause disruption and those without insurance are facing additional challenges getting the care they need,” a fund statement said.

The new fund’s website notes that homelessness and housing instability are special areas of emphasis.

Nearby, the Gaston Community Foundation, in partnership with United Way and other organizations, created the Gaston County Virus Relief Fund to help fill public health gaps through front-line nonprofits.

In Western North Carolina, the new Emergency and Disaster Response Fund expects to announce its first grants later this week.

Led by The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina in concert with Dogwood Health Trust and other regional foundations, the fund will use a growing, dedicated pool of money to make grants on a weekly basis.

“We are very grateful that our region is pulling together to help address increasing demands and stresses on the nonprofit sector,” said Elizabeth Brazas, president of CFWNC.

“I encourage people to continue to support the organizations they care about during this critical time and to give to this effort if they can do so without impacting regular charitable giving.”


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Neil Cotiaux

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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