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Local COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund Launched

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ERIE — The Erie Community Foundation and like-minded philanthropic institutions have come together  to create the COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund. The general public will be invited to make additional contributions to this fund through a special version of Erie Gives, to be held online 24/7 beginning Friday, March 20 through Tuesday, March 31 at www.ErieGives.org.

The Foundation partnered with Erie Insurance, United Way, Hamot Health Foundation and Highmark/Allegheny Health Network to raise $285,000 in lead gifts to encourage additional donations from the general public. By utilizing the established Erie Gives website model, donors are welcome to partake in the movement by giving to the fund and helping our neighbors.

The newly established COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund will provide grant dollars to support nonprofits helping Erie County residents impacted by the Coronavirus Disease. More specifically, the COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund will support 501 (C) (3)nonprofits that:

1. Provide food to those in need

2. Administer care for our children

3. Serve the elderly, who are the most vulnerable population to COVID-19

4. Help those suffering from hardships and job loss due to COVID-19

“During our nine years of experience with Erie Gives, we have watched our community rise to the challenge of supporting our nonprofit sector and their clients,” said Foundation President Michael L. Batchelor. “Now more than ever, we need each other,” he said.

The Foundation and the funders are using the Erie Gives website to accept gifts for the COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund. The special COVID-19 Grants Committee comprised of Foundation staff and its funders, will dispense grants per a grant application process. Nonprofits can access the application online at www.ErieGives.org and www.ErieCommunityFoundation.org. The grant deadline application will be April 1, 2020. The plan is to distribute grant dollars by April 3, 2020. “Our goal is to rapidly respond to this pandemic crisis and support our nonprofit sector that helps our residents in distress,” Batchelor added.

As the Coronavirus Disease pandemic spread across the world, the country and eventually the local community, many restaurants, businesses, schools and health establishments closed their doors. The closings meant neighbors dealt with layoffs and unexpected difficulties to secure food, to

pay bills, and to care for the susceptible elderly and our youngest community members. Retail workers, small business owners, restaurant owners, waiters, waitresses, bartenders, hairdressers, care givers, and many others, including nonprofits experienced interruptions of vital income streams.

“National infectious disease experts and government officials predict the COVID-19 will be one of the most significant economic, health and human service challenges we have ever faced,” said Batchelor. “For those reasons, we encourage donors to give generously to the fund.”

Donors can log on to www.ErieGives.org to make a gift. Those who want to make a gift by check, should mail checks to The Erie Community Foundation at 459 West 6th Street, Erie, PA 16507. Those who want to make gift through their donor advised fund at the Foundation, can call 814-454-0843.

Currently, the Foundation office is closed but staff is working remotely and will receive your message.

The community-wide Erie Gives is still scheduled to take place on Tuesday, August 11, when donors can make a gift to over 350 local nonprofits that will benefit from a prorated match. To learn more visit, www.ErieCommunityFoundation.org