WATERBURY — United Way of Greater Waterbury and the Connecticut Community Foundation will support local community-based organizations through the COVID-19 Response Fund.

Non-profit agencies are expected to face financial disruption during this crisis, putting pressure on operating budgets that may compromise their ability to serve vulnerable populations.

Thanks to generous seed money from these two lead organizations and a cross-section of individuals, private foundations, corporations, and others, the COVID-19 Response Fund will rapidly deploy resources to community-based organizations at the frontlines of the coronavirus outbreak.

The fund will complement the work of local officials and expand the capacity of trusted, frontline organizations meeting the basic needs of local residents in Greater Waterbury and the Litchfield Hills.

Kristen Jacoby, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Waterbury, explained, “As coronavirus reverberates across hospitals, offices, schools, and homes, we are reminded of our most basic shared value. We know that all of us depend on each other for a healthy community.

“This priority guides our concern for those most vulnerable in a pandemic. This includes those experiencing homelessness, older adults, children who rely on school for meals, and the families of hospitality, retail and other hourly workers facing difficulty in meeting basic human needs.”

United Way of Greater Waterbury and Connecticut Community Foundation will jointly administer requests for funding.

Given the dynamic nature of this situation, requests for funding will be considered and released on a rolling basis and the fund will begin distributing grants as soon as possible.

Consideration for support is limited to 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations, groups fiscally sponsored by a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, or other charitable organizations able to receive tax-deductible contributions, such as schools, faith-based organizations serving community needs and other public entities based in or primarily serving residents of Beacon Falls, Bethlehem, Bridgewater, Cheshire, Goshen, Litchfield, Middlebury, Morris, Naugatuck, New Milford, Oxford, Plymouth, Prospect, Roxbury, Southbury, Thomaston, Warren, Washington, Waterbury, Watertown, Wolcott and Woodbury.

The fund’s resources will initially be directed to non-profit organizations serving high need, vulnerable populations, including low-income individuals and residents without health insurance and/or access to sick days, older adults, people experiencing homelessness, immigrants, persons with disabilities, and communities of color, among others.

The fund is not able to provide grants directly to individuals or families but will be funding community-based organizations that have experience and a history of providing people and families with services and support.

Julie Loughran, president and CEO of Connecticut Community Foundation, noted, “This is a critical time for so many, including non-profit organizations that depend on the generosity of donors to provide important local services. Many have seen their revenues plummet due to cancelled services, programs and fundraisers, and find themselves struggling to cover staffing and other critical expenses in these rapidly changing times.

“While we hope that individuals will help their neighbors by contributing to the COVID-19 Response Fund, we want to be clear that this fund was not created to be the only vehicle resourcing critical community organizations during this outbreak. In addition to gifts they may make to the Response Fund, we encourage donors to continue to give directly to non-profits whose work they value throughout the region.”

She added, “To ensure we move critical resources as efficiently as possible and respond to needs of non-profit organizations serving the most impacted and vulnerable communities and residents, we are not considering restricted donations to the COVID-19 Response Fund at this time.”

Donors contributing online will have the option of adding the percent per transaction to cover credit card processing fees charged to the fund by the payment processor.

Neither Connecticut Community Foundation nor United Way of Greater Waterbury will charge an administrative fee on funds raised.

Ms. Jacoby said, “We anticipate multiple phases of funding to address both the acute needs now and the longer-term impacts of the outbreak and recovery. In the first phase, we are prioritizing the deployment of resources to trusted, frontline community organizations to help them continue to meet the basic needs of local residents.

“The fund’s primary purpose is to minimize the social and economic consequences of this global pandemic and to prevent the widening of inequities and opportunity gaps in education, employment, housing, and health.”

Fundraising and the distribution of resources will continue through the outbreak and into the recovery phase, which has an unknown timeline.

Ms. Loughran commented, “As we are dealing with unprecedented and unpredictable short and long-term implications of COVID-19 on our communities and neighbors, we will frequently review the fund’s criteria for grantmaking to ensure we are responsive to the changing needs of our communities based on the dynamic nature of the crisis.”

Residents are encouraged to closely monitor updates and review valuable health and safety resources from the state and the Centers for Disease Control as well as their local health departments.

The state has partnered with United Way of Connecticut to launch an information hotline for questions from the public regarding issues related to the spread of the coronavirus at 211 or texting CTCOVID to 898211.

Those in Waterbury can dial 311 for local information.

Donors who would like to contribute to the COVID-19 Response Fund and non-profit organizations with a 501(c)(3) designation interested in receiving support can visit www.unitedwaygw.org and conncf.org/covid-19-response-fund.

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