Press Release - March 23, 2020

Silicon Valley Community Foundation opens three COVID-19 funds to help protect public health and those affected by outbreak

As COVID-19 threatens livelihood of Bay Area workers, nonprofits and small businesses, philanthropic sector responds

March 23, 2020, Mountain View, CA – Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) has opened three funds to help the Bay Area meet the developing challenges linked with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), focusing on supporting low-income individuals and families, nonprofits, and small businesses impacted by the public health crisis.

The three funds include:

COVID-19 Coronavirus Regional Response Fund: The COVID-19 Coronavirus Regional Response Fund, hosted by SVCF in partnership with other Bay Area community foundations, will support low-income individuals and families in the ten Bay Area counties. The virus outbreak and “shelter in place” directives are inflicting severe financial hardship on many Bay Area residents already living paycheck-to-paycheck. Contributors to the COVID-19 Coronavirus Regional Response Fund can choose to support the region as a whole, any of the ten counties specifically, or national response efforts managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Foundation.

Regional Nonprofit Emergency Fund: The Regional Nonprofit Emergency Fund will provide flexible operating support grants to nonprofit organizations serving one or more of the ten Bay Area counties. The arrival of the coronavirus has multiplied challenges for nonprofits, such as decreased volunteer support, event cancellations, increased pressures for services, and challenges procuring emergency equipment. These organizations are caring for their own employees while also scrambling to ramp up services to their clients and constituents.

Small Business Relief Fund: The Small Business Relief Fund, hosted by SVCF in partnership with Opportunity Fund, will provide immediate support to struggling self-employed and small business owners. Small businesses—which are more likely owned by immigrants, women and people of color— and their employees are being affected more quickly and severely than larger firms by reduced consumer demand caused by “shelter in place” conditions. When small businesses fail, the owners, their families, their employees and whole communities suffer.

“In a region of extreme wealth inequality, many low-income residents, nonprofit organizations and small businesses were already struggling financially,” said SVCF CEO and President Nicole Taylor. “Factor in COVID-19, and these groups are facing even more economic hardships that are threatening their livelihoods.”

Susan True, CEO of Community Foundation Santa Cruz County, also said the impact of COVID-19 is being felt first and most intensely by those who were already struggling, including seniors and low-wage workers. “We must ensure that they have continued care and nutrition,” she said. “Workers who have never used public benefits before may now be eligible for unemployment and other services and we must help them access the benefits that can keep them housed, fed and stable. The impacts have already been felt sharply and we know this will only heighten as more businesses and nonprofits shutter.”

Evolving into a collaborative effort

SVCF first set up a fund in February in response to growing concerns about COVID-19 in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. The economic implications of COVID-19 became obvious as more cases emerged, and SVCF began discussing with other community foundations and philanthropic partners about a more collaborative, regional response to aid the different populations affected by COVID-19.

“Because we had already established one fund, we were able to expand it into a regional effort and quickly partner with our other community foundation colleagues in this region as the situation developed. We are proud to lead this effort and support our partners as we all work together to deliver resources to where they are needed most in our communities.” said Taylor.

Solano Community Foundation is one of the local partners that collaborated on the funds to help individuals and families and nonprofits. Constance Harris, its CEO, said: “Solano County already receives the fewest funder dollars per capita to support a growing low-income population that cannot afford to live in other Bay Area counties. Nonprofit services will be further stretched for those already dealing with reductions in state and federal funding. They will need our support now, more than ever to help people and families in crisis. Thanks to Nicole Taylor’s leadership and foresight in standing up the new COVID-19 Regional Nonprofit Emergency Fund, community foundations and nonprofit partners will see additional funding to help serve the most vulnerable populations in our county.”

Fred Blackwell, CEO of San Francisco Foundation, also praised the collaborative approach to fundraising: “We thank the Silicon Valley Community Foundation for its hard work in helping to manage the region-wide efforts of the COVID-19 response. And as community foundations, we are all in this together – we stand ready to serve the greater Bay Area community as a group to serve communities that are likely to bear the worst health and economic effects of this crisis.”

The new funds to help families, individuals and nonprofits will assist those in a 10-county region (the nine Bay Area counties, plus Santa Cruz County). The new Small Business Relief Fund, hosted by SVCF and administered by Opportunity Fund, will help businesses statewide. Said Luz Urrutia, CEO of Opportunity Fund and also a board member at SVCF: “We're seeing more economic devastation with each passing day. The danger is especially pronounced for businesses owned by women, immigrants and people of color. When small businesses fail, the impact to our communities is severe. That’s why Opportunity Fund is taking urgent action to help them before it’s too late,” said. "We're proud to partner with Silicon Valley Community Foundation to ensure the financial health of our most vulnerable businesses and communities during this crisis."

To date, SVCF has received donations of $1.9 million to support low-income individuals and families, nonprofits and small business impacted by the effects of COVID-19. This includes contributions to the three funds described above, as well as to Silicon Valley Strong, on which SVCF is partnering with local governments and companies in Santa Clara County. Silicon Valley Strong coordinates funding and volunteers and information on where residents can find help.

To learn more or to donate to any of SVCF’s funds, visit https://www.siliconvalleycf.org/coronavirus-response

###

About Silicon Valley Community Foundation
Silicon Valley Community Foundation advances innovative philanthropic solutions to challenging problems. We engage donors and corporations from Silicon Valley, across the country and around the globe to make our region and world better for all. Our passion for helping people and organizations achieve their philanthropic dreams has created a global philanthropic enterprise committed to the belief that possibilities start here.  Learn more at siliconvalleycf.org.