The Arkansas Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Fund has awarded $1,000 rapid response grants to 678 nonprofits in 149 cities and towns across the state.
The fund, created March 18, helps recipients serve vulnerable populations and those disproportionately affected by the coronavirus and its economic fallout. The $1,000 grants, distributed in 67 of the state’s 75 counties, will help groups meet short- and long-term needs in human services, food, health, housing and education.
“It is a lot. It's a whole lot,” President and CEO Heather Larkin said about the grants that have been awarded so far. “I can't say we did not expect it because we know that the need for the community nonprofits is very high and great, and they are trying to respond as quickly as possible, so we knew the need was there.”
A list of the organizations who have already received grants is available here.
Jessica Ford, the foundation’s communications director, said every grantee has a story to tell. Here are a few she highlighted for Arkansas Business:
Hispanic Women's Organization of Arkansas in Springdale, which used its grant to communicate with the region’s Spanish-speaking residents about COVID-19;
Mid-Delta Health Systems in Clarendon, which used its grant to cover additional expenses related to telemedicine appointments;
Main Street Russellville, which used its grant to inform and refer small businesses to resources, patronize local restaurants and support first responders;
Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub in North Little Rock, which used its grant to buy supplies and pay staff to design personal protective equipment; and
City of Hope Outreach in Conway, which used its grant to provide rent and utility assistance to people in need.
Phase Two grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 are being processed and will be awarded by the end of May.
Larkin also said that, early on, the grant program had to be shut down for a few days because funding ran out. The foundation’s initial contribution was $130,000. “It’s pretty remarkable, actually, that we were able to turn it around that quickly and get the money in the hands of the nonprofits so quickly, with so little hassle,” she said.
A little more than $3.4 million has been raised for the fund. Donations are still being accepted here.
About $2.7 million has been spent on the grants that have been awarded and will be awarded in Phase Two, Larkin said.
She said the foundation is “overwhelmed” by the generosity of the other foundations, businesses and individuals who contributed to the fund. It is planning on having a Phase Three and Phase Four of the grant program as well.
The fund was endorsed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and, jointly, by the Arkansas Republican and Democratic Parties. Larkin believes donors really responded to that. “We just had this outpouring of leadership in the state wanting to help and trying to figure out how to help in the best way,” she said.