Embracing Resilience Together
Resilience Fund Grant disbursements are now complete! Read about how, coming together, our communities responded to the challenges caused and amplified by COVID-19.
Philanthropy responds to COVID-19
From the launch of community-based rapid-response funds to the collaborative work of donors to address short and long-term needs, our sector was at its best. Philanthropy responded by moving resources quickly to the people who needed them most with increased flexibility and cooperation.
In March 2020, the Community Foundation of South Puget Sound got to work, urgently supporting the people and communities most deeply affected by the impacts of the crisis by establishing COVID-19 Response Funds in Lewis, Mason, and Thurston counties. Each Response Fund was in partnership with the United Way in that county and granted more than $800,000 in COVID-19 Relief.
As the pandemic wore on, however, it was clear that there needed to be a longer-term response. The Resilience Fund was established to further address the impacts of COVID-19, bolster our region’s long-term efforts to rebuild, respond to emerging opportunities, help nonprofits adapt, and support creative new approaches and partnerships that will benefit our communities well beyond recovery.
Moving toward resilience together
The Bruno and Evelyne Betti Foundation seeded the Resilience Fund with a generous gift. Matched by Puget Sound Energy and AllInWA, this gift multiplied during Give Local 2020 as community members pitched in. Just over $1 million was raised for this fund in less than six months, an incredible feat!
Resilience Grant funding was only possible because of the generous outpouring from many members of our communities who contributed to this fund through gifts of all sizes—an affirmation of our belief that individuals want to give back in the places where they live. To those of you who gave to this fund, thank you! Your generosity provided hope and confidence in the future for many during a time of uncertainty.
Over the next 18 months, nonprofits applied to the fund. Together, their narratives painted a more comprehensive picture of the effects of the pandemic across our communities and highlighted the innovative ways each organization planned to address new or amplified community needs.
In May 2021, the Resilience Fund Grant program opened. These grants included a simplified application with fewer questions and unrestricted funding for nonprofits.
A grants committee reviewed and scored applications using an evaluation tool based on our Resilience Fund Frameworks (2021 and 2022),which we shared on our website to make the process transparent and to invite feedback. Over the next seven months, a sizable $512,076 in unrestricted grant dollars went out to 31 organizations. The remainder was awarded to an additional 24 organizations by August 2022.
Teresa Loo, who served on the grants committee, shares, "The learning was immense. With every grant review, our understanding grew of how multidimensional our communities and community needs are. It was inspiring to learn about innovative approaches many organizations were taking to support our communities in these unprecedented times."
Lessons learned, with an eye on the future
Earlier this year, the foundation published an update on the Resilience Fund along with our learnings. The update confirms what many across the philanthropic community have also acknowledged: listening and learning to our communities is essential to achieving greater impact and to expand the possibility of true resilience for all.
The Community Foundation knows there is no single way to address our communities’ challenges and opportunities. So staff members are committed to asking difficult questions, receiving feedback from the community, and continuously learning so that our funding makes the most significant, inclusive, and positive impact possible. As always, the goal is to inspire philanthropy and to ensure that those gifts have the greatest possible impact in our communities.
The foundation also continues to welcome more people from diverse backgrounds and lived experiences to staff, governance, and grantmaking tables so that all facets of the organization better represent the vibrant and increasingly diverse communities it serves. In doing so, the foundation wants to ensure that community resources are stewarded responsibly and in the service of many.
One more thank you
When the pandemic first swept through the South Puget Sound, no one knew how to best support our communities. But we all met that moment of uncertainty together and rallied behind our people and this place we call home.
Thank you to those who love and care for our communities—we couldn't have done this without you! Your generosity allowed our region to increase its resilience throughout the pandemic. While our work is far from over, we can celebrate every milestone along the way.
Thank you to the many local nonprofits who, through various closures, loss of personnel, and increasing community needs, continued to forge a path forward as they embraced innovations and partnerships ensuring vibrant and healthy futures for our communities.
At first glance, the 55 grantees of the Resilience Fund might seem like an assortment of organizations working in various focus areas. However, all together they demonstrate the many facets of how people in our region worked together to create stronger and more resilient Lewis, Mason, and Thurston County communities.