Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund launches second phase of community support

Collage of images of people helping others during COVID

Nearly eight months into our community’s response to COVID-19, the pandemic continues to impact the Greater Cleveland community in profound ways. At the outset of the pandemic, local philanthropic partners joined together quickly to establish the Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund to support nonprofit organizations working on the frontlines to address the pandemic and its effects throughout Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties. Thanks to the generosity of more than 80 corporate, civic and philanthropic partners as well as nearly 2,300 individual and families who contributed to the fund, more than $8.6 million was distributed to nearly 160 Northeast Ohio organizations between March and July.

Surveying community needs

With the pandemic still severely impacting our community, the fund partners recognized the need for continued relief. To inform the direction and development of a potential Phase II of the Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund, the partners surveyed nearly 750 stakeholders, including more than 300 community residents, almost 320 nonprofit organizations, and dozens of local and national leaders across sectors. Through these efforts, three areas stood out as critical factors that must be addressed in order to recover from COVID-19 and strengthen our region:  

  • COVID-19 Response: Continue to respond to the needs of COVID-19, including ensuring there is PPE, testing, and tracing to keep people safe; supporting families; and making sure basic needs are being met.
  • Systemic Racism + Racial Justice: Address systemic racism and develop a racial justice agenda that disrupts and dismantles racist policies, practices, and procedures that negatively impact people of color.
  • Economic Well-being + Mobility: Prioritize economic well-being and economic mobility for Cleveland’s residents.

Learn more about what we heard from the community here.

Launching Phase II of the Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund

A group of 13 partners have come together to launch the second phase of the Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund, pledging more than $3 million in initial support. Phase II will focus support in the following areas:

  • Basic needs: New and emergency needs, particularly for service offerings outside of normal operations to respond to social distancing, isolation and quarantine. Examples include expanded services or hand-delivered products and services to people who are home-bound or quarantined as well as protocols to keep housing-insecure residents sheltered while reducing the spread of the coronavirus.
  • Family supports: Services that help marginalized families and those most impacted by the pandemic maintain and/or secure employment, position students to thrive in a changing school environment, and assist families with other challenges they face as a result of COVID-19. Examples include distance learning, technology training, mental and behavioral health care supports, and learning pods.
  • PPE, testing and contact tracing: PPE and community testing equipment as well as services for marginalized populations and those most impacted by the pandemic.

Apply for a grant from the fund

The second phase of the fund is currently accepting grant applications from eligible organizations serving Cuyahoga, Lake and/or Geauga counties. The fund is designed primarily to support human service nonprofits with operational budgets of less than $20 million. The fund partners encourage collaborative proposals that involve multiple organizations within similar sectors or neighborhoods working on shared issues.

Grants will be awarded every two weeks beginning the first week of November 2020 and will continue for one year. Awards will range in size from $5,000 to $100,000, with a maximum grant amount of $100,000 for any nonprofit organization throughout the next year ending Oct. 31, 2021. Organizations that were funded during Phase I (between March-July 2020) are eligible to apply for additional funding. Grants are limited to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, groups fiscally sponsored by a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, or other charitable organizations able to receive a tax-deductible contribution. Visit for more information and to apply.

Give to the fund

The Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund continues to raise dollars to support the pandemic response and prevent the spread of the disease in our community. You can make a gift to the fund here. Gifts of any amount are welcomed and all contributions are tax-deductible.

What’s next

In addition to the fund, the partners are in the process of expanding their efforts by establishing a broader, long-term aligned collaboration focused on:

  • helping the nonprofit sector adapt its services and programming to be able to meet the increased needs of the community;
  • advocating for more explicit and intentional anti-racist policies, processes and practices in government, nonprofit and philanthropy;
  • advancing economic well-being and stability for all; and
  • leveraging philanthropic power and capital to spur greater collaboration and better leadership.

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