Florida’s First Coast Relief Fund has surpassed the $3 million mark in grants awarded to nonprofit organizations responding to immediate needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 85 agencies are recipients of nearly $3.3 million since grantmaking began in March.
The Fund is a collaboration between The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, Jessie Ball duPont Fund, Jewish Federation and Foundation of Northeast Florida, United Way of Northeast Florida and United Way of St. Johns County.
“By far, the greatest need we’ve seen to this point is for food and financial assistance,” said Kathleen Shaw, a member of the Relief Fund’s grants committee and vice president of Programs at The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida. “We have been able to make grants to some of the big regional food suppliers, like Feeding Northeast Florida and Barnabas, but we’ve also made grants to many smaller organizations so they can acquire food from the regional food banks and get it into their clients’ hands as soon as possible.”
Applications from nonprofits are still coming in, and members of the Relief Fund’s grant committee continue to meet weekly to review, approve and ensure grants go out the door quickly.
Priority is given to agencies in Duval, Nassau, St. Johns, Baker, Clay and Putnam counties that provide food; housing; financial assistance for individuals and families; child-care support for first responders and other frontline staff; medical, safety supplies and equipment; and technology support for safety net providers.
Organizations in St. Johns County that benefited from the grants included: American Red Cross, Ascension St. Vincent’s Healthcare Foundation, Beaches Council of Aging, Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry, Betty Griffin Center, Blessings in a Backpack-First Coast Chapter, Catholic Charities, Center for Sustainable Agriculture Excellence and Conservation, Downtown Ecumenical Services Council, ElderSource, Emergency Services and Homeless Coalition of St. Johns County, EPIC Community Services, EPIC Cure, Farm Share, Feeding Northeast Florida, Habitat for Humanity of St. Augustine/St. Johns County, Hart Felt Ministries, Hope Haven, Horn of Salvation Ministries, Hugs Across the County, Hunger Fight, Jewish Family and Community Services, Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition, Northeast Florida Women Veterans, Pie in the Sky Community Alliance, Salvation Army, St. Augustine Youth Services, St. Francis House, Three Grains of Rice Mission, Tom Coughlin Jay Fund, UF Health, Veterans Council of St. Johns County, Volunteers in Medicine, YMCA, Yoga 4 Change and Youth Crisis Center.
"We're continuing to see requests from the organizations serving our most vulnerable neighbors and are grateful to the coalition of public and private donors answering the ongoing call to help," said Katie Ensign, vice president for Placemaking and Administration for the Jessie Ball duPont Fund. "Florida's First Coast Relief Fund is working closely with local systems addressing these critical issues – including homelessness, food insecurity, mental health services, small businesses resilience, and emergency response services -- to ensure that grants are helping to build a more effective community infrastructure to quickly and efficiently get assistance to those who need it most."
Fortunately, generous donors continue to support Florida’s First Coast Relief Fund. Recent gifts of $1 million from the City of Jacksonville and $500,000 from The Humana Foundation bolstered the fund to more than $5.4 million – more than was raised for relief following Hurricanes Matthew and Irma.
The City of Jacksonville ($1 million), The Humana Foundation ($500,000), Jessie Ball duPont Fund ($500,000), Shad Khan ($400,000), The Jim Moran Foundation ($250,000), J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver ($250,000) and the Michael Ward and Jennifer Glock Foundation ($250,000) were among those to contributed to the fund.
Florida’s First Coast Relief Fund is administered by United Way of Northeast Florida with 100% of donations going to nonprofit agencies that provide direct services to individuals with needs that are not met by government programs.
Florida’s First Coast Relief Fund will remain open until needs stabilize and while funding is available. To learn more, give or apply, visit unitedwaynefl.org/COVID19response.