“It is times like this when philanthropy can lean into its leadership role and unite our community for the greater good. At the Community Foundation, we are responding to the uncertainty with proactive action and collaboration.” – Community Foundation for a Greater Richmond
PlanRVA and the Emergency Management Alliance of Central Virginia formed a partnership with our local Community Foundation for a greater Richmond in September 2018 to establish the Central Virginia Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief Fund. It was activated for the first time in March 2020 to support emerging community needs in the wake of the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis. During the last 20 weeks, the Fund has generated more than $6 million dollars in contributions and distributed $4.5 million in grants for relief and response efforts throughout the region. Funding has provided support to programs and initiatives in the following localities: Counties of Amelia, Ashland, Charles City, Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, Louisa, New Kent, Powhatan, Prince George, and Sussex; and the Cities and Towns of Ashland, Colonial Heights, Hopewell, Petersburg, and Richmond.
Guided by a committee of philanthropic, corporate and public sector representatives, grant review has been continuous and responsive as needs have evolved over time. Initially, the Fund focused its support for local nonprofit and government organizations that were addressing the urgent health and safety needs of residents most affected by COVID-19. Projects included moving our street homeless population into appropriate shelter, helping charitable clinics shift their services to a telehealth model, and providing food access particularly to families who rely heavily on the school system to provide their children with basic needs and suddenly did not have that accessibility. In June, the Fund’s priorities expanded to include recovery efforts, including getting people back to work, helping them remain stable in their homes, and supporting school systems with technology and training as they plan for reopening.
We are grateful for the continued support through new donations. The uncertainty of the current economic conditions and duration of the pandemic creates the need to constantly reevaluate the focus of the Fund. Unlike other potential disasters, we know that this activation will require a longer period for donation generation and disbursement in the community. It’s also likely that other disasters will occur in the midst of the current pandemic and economic crisis as we enter the hurricane season.
Through the important lessons learned and the many new partnerships formed in this coordinated and regional response to the pandemic, our region will be well prepared to activate and mobilize again as needed. We have built a strong framework that utilizes both the expertise of our partners who represent all sectors and the generosity of community members. It not only takes all of us to address and overcome the challenges of disaster, but also to build resiliency for our community as we move forward.