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COVID-19 Community Response Fund Prepares for Fourth Round of Funding

Athens Area Community Foundation

The Athens Area Community Foundation (AACF) and United Way of Northeast Georgia are preparing to deploy a fourth round of funding from the COVID-19 Community Response Fund.


According to Sarah McKinney, President and CEO of the Athens Area Community Foundation, the fund supports nonprofits and other entities doing charitable work in the 12 county area served by the two organizations: “It’s designed to provide support for the most pressing needs associated with the pandemic. As we’ve all seen, those needs have greatly shifted and adjusted over the weeks. There are still needs that are out there. There will be for months and years to come.”


Nonprofits are currently faced with many operational challenges, from safely mobilizing staff to addressing unprecedented need. Nonprofit budgets have also suffered in the past several months, as crucial fundraising opportunities were slashed as a result of the public health crisis.

As Mckinney says, “February to May-June becomes the fundraising season, and those were completely wiped off of all calendars this season. So broadly speaking, financial meets operational has been the biggest issues.”


So far, the COVID-19 Community Response fund has deployed $345,000 targeting food access, housing, and youth development. The AACF and United Way are currently discussing how to deploy their fourth round of funding, and while it has not been decided yet, McKinney says they have found their likely focus.


“Right now we’re still putting some focus on youth and education because we feel that everybody’s been affected by this, but prolonged absences from positive youth development opportunities in classrooms will pose a threat to a number of different aspects of lives for children.”


Many sectors of the community have contributed to the fund, from individuals and family foundations to local businesses. Trends in donations have also matched what she considers to be “disaster philanthropy,” as issues related to the pandemic change in visibility. Mckinney says that as life has begun to resume its normal pace for some, donations have decreased.


“For about ten weeks we had a steady increase in giving. Then for the past three to four weeks we’ve seen a steady decline in gifts to this fund. I really don’t think that has anything to do with people not believing there’s an issue. It’s just on par with how disaster philanthropy works.”


The fund continues to accept donations, and those interested in contributing can do so by visiting the website for more information. To access funding, nonprofits are encouraged to get in contact with the leaders of the Athens Area Community Foundation or United Way of Northeast as well as fill out the Nonprofit Community Assessment tool on the AACF website.