Update: Arkansas Community Foundation Creates COVID-19 Relief Fund

Update: Arkansas Community Foundation Creates COVID-19 Relief Fund
Heather Larkin

The Arkansas Community Foundation has created the COVID-19 Relief Fund to direct resources to Arkansas nonprofits disproportionately affected by the coronavirus and its economic fallout. 

Donations can be made here. You can also mail a check to the Arkansas Community Foundation, 5 Allied Drive, Suite 51110, Little Rock, AR 72202, or contact the foundation directly at (888) 220-2723. 

Click here to apply for funding.

The foundation said it will work locally though its network of 28 affiliate offices around the state, serving all 75 counties. The fund will support community needs identified by nonprofit partners in human services, food, health, housing and education. 

Grants will be made to nonprofits that have both immediate and long-term needs.

The foundation has contributed $130,000 to the fund so far, President and CEO Heather Larkin, told Arkansas Business late Thursday, “We’re hoping to raise quite a bit more because that's not even gonna scratch the surface of what we're gonna need."

The foundation will deploy about $60,000 right now in the form of $1,000 mini-grants that can be delivered quickly.

Nonprofit organizations with 501c3 status, churches, hospitals, schools or government entities based in Arkansas are eligible for the grants. Priority will be given to applicants that:

  • Provide human services and emergency assistance like food, shelter and other living expenses;
  • Primarily serve vlunerable populations such as children, families without childcare, people who have lost income due to the pandemic, people who are at high risk medically and homeless or incarcerated individuals; and
  • Disseminate factual safety and response information to vulnerable communites such those with non-English speaking, rural and senior citizen members.

The funding may be used to support clients' basic needs, cover costs associated with decreased staffing or remote working, provide mental health programming, to coordinate in-kind donations and more. Only one grant per successful applicant will be awarded at this time.

After the $60,000 is awarded, “then, depending on how much we raise, we may continue that, and then we'll deploy the rest in kind of an intermediate phase,” she said. “That will probably start sometime in early June, when we really start to try to address some of the economic needs of Arkansans and try to figure out what we need to do going forward. It's fluid.”

In addition, Larkin said the foundation will try to raise enough money to give larger grants.

It is also asking donors to contribute directly to their favorite charities and to give flexible gifts instead of restricting donations for specific uses.

The grants could help:

  • Health care nonprofits that are in need of safety equipment for their employees and volunteers; 

  • Emergency child care organizations; 

  • Food pantries and groups that provide meal delivery to children, the elderly and others; 

  • School systems that are attempting to meet the needs of their students remotely; 

  • Human service agencies that provide assistance with rent, utilities and other basic expenses for individuals who have lost a source of income.

These were identified as needs in a brief survey the foundation sent out on Monday, according to Larkin. “Not any huge surprises there, that you would not be able to guess,” she said.

Concern over volunteering and staffing is widespread, Larkin said, as is an increase in demand for services.

“You know, our nonprofits need us now more than ever. They're under a lot of stress, and the stress is just going to get greater,” she said. “The unemployment that we're going to be looking at… you need to start thinking about how that is going to trickle down to our direct service nonprofits. It's just going to be overwhelming. ... It's a new world, and nonprofits do need us to do everything that we can to support them.”