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Community Crisis Response Fund asks for and offers help

Grant soon available, Donations requested

The Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County is ramping up its efforts to combat the troubles caused by the coranavirus emergency, by offering limited funding to local nonprofits for basic human necessities. Applications will begin to be accepted the first week of April, and will likely include grants ranging from $500 to $2500.

The foundation is hoping it will be able to offer more robust funding to those in need once the public becomes more aware of Anne Arundel’s Community Crisis Response Fund. The first cycle of the funding is designed to sustain the most vulnerable residents in the community who are struggling with critical needs during the current emergency. Those needs may include such essentials as food, diapers, baby formula, gas cards, cleaning supplies and hygiene products, said the foundations director of development, Amy Francis.

“We are focused on making sure that all the dollars raised into the fund directly support the vulnerable individuals in our county, which includes children, seniors and homeless residents.” she said. “We want to be able to make an impact for as many local nonprofits as we can. We're actively fundraising for the fund and asking our community to help support this fund. The more money that we raise, the more we can do together as a community.”

Francis acknowledged there is a new urgency on the part of the foundation to promote and build the crisis fund in this moment of need. The fund was created after the Capital Gazette shooting in 2018. With the creation of the Capital Gazette Family Fund shortly thereafter, focus for the family fund generally eclipsed that of the community crisis response fund, she said.

Amy Francis

The Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County is the largest institutional funder of nonprofits in the county. They have approximately $18 million in assets and allocated approximately 500 grants totaling almost $3 million to county 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations in 2019.

The foundation includes 145 separate funds under the categories of donor-advised funds, scholarship fund, field of interest funds and unrestricted grant-making funds. Many of the funds have been created by individuals or groups in the county, but the community crisis response fund is one where allocation decisions are made by a foundation committee made up of staff and board members.

The foundation is determined that for the first cycle of grant allocations at least, the crisis fund grants will go toward the most vulnerable victims of the county. It hasn’t been determined yet if further future cycles of allocations may go towards groups that fall within a different category of needs.

Francis said the community foundation’s role is to be a leader in the community by identifying the greatest and most critical needs in the county. They then partner with donors and nonprofits to help in funding those needs.

“We are committed to raising as much as we can for this fund, and then getting it distributed out to the nonprofit's as quickly as possible so that they can continue to do good work in our community,” she said.

The very sudden and escalating nature of the emergency has put a strain on many residents and the foundation staff are no exception. Their small staff of five is working from home. They are scrambling to keep up with the changing events to meet the needs of the community. They have had to rewrite guidelines for the grant applications because of the fluidity of the situation.

“It seems every day there’s a new development and it’s hard to keep up,” Francis said.

The foundation is working very closely with nonprofits though to determine need. So far the highest priority has been determined to be those basic needs that can sustain vulnerable residents.

.She did have one request for anyone who donates directly to a nonprofit during this crisis, do your best not to put restrictions on the money you donate. Let the nonprofit do the work that they're in the trenches everyday doing. Trust the nonprofit.

The more money we raise, the more money we can give out. And things are changing. We don’t know what the landscape is going to look like next week, or the week after.”