By: Jennifer Rhoads, CFP

Coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic, social distancing—whether in conversation or through news reports, we’ve become too familiar with these terms. Concerns about public health and safety are intensifying, and it can seem as if there is no end in sight. This uncertainty is putting all aspects of our daily lives into constant flux.

Fortunately, our community ties and resourcefulness remain. The Community Foundation also stands steadfast, prepared to connect charitable dollars to emerging local needs. We are focusing on how to best provide ongoing support through the many phases of this emergency. To this end, we wanted to inform our partners and supporters about the steps we’re taking to address the unprecedented challenge of COVID-19.

Open for Business, But Closing Our Office

The health and safety of our staff, supporters and nonprofit partners is our top priority. To do our part in slowing the spread of the coronavirus, we have closed our offices. While our staff is working remotely, our direct lines have been forwarded and we will be checking email regularly. Every day, we will assess our ability to re-open based on the best available guidance from the WHO and Washington State Department of Health. If you would like to reach any member of our team during this time, you can find our staff directory here.

Extending Scholarship & Grant Deadlines

The Community Foundation’s financial support is even more essential in challenging times such as these. We are committed to keeping charitable dollars flowing, and this includes our current Focus Grants funding cycle and scholarship application process:

The current application window has been extended until Thursday, April 30 and we’re prioritizing awarding grant funds in time for organizations with a June 30 fiscal year-end. Visit this page to learn more.

The majority of scholarship application deadlines have also been extended to April 30 to provide students more time to submit their application. Visit cfsww.org/scholarships to learn more.

Actively Tracking Needs

While we are taking adequate precautions, our work must continue. The situation is constantly evolving, which requires us to actively track community needs. Our team is staying in regular contact with our extensive network of nonprofit partners and community leaders to assess how and where we can best provide support. We anticipate a growing number of southwest Washington residents will end up on the verge of crisis; experiencing hunger, facing homelessness and struggling to afford healthcare.

Nonprofits providing healthcare, childcare and other basic human needs are already having to shift or ramp up services. As community needs are increasing, nonprofit capacity is decreasing—especially for those that rely heavily on volunteerism. Local food banks, shelters, free health clinics and domestic violence services are all feeling this pinch. At the same time, many organizations are facing revenue shortfalls due to the inability to gather crowds of ten or more. Social distancing measures are devastating for arts and culture organizations, but all nonprofits are postponing and canceling critical spring fundraisers

Community Response Fund

Our strength is creating philanthropic approaches that address community needs. It’s no surprise that our reaction to the challenge of coronavirus (COVID-19) was to establish the SW Washington COVID Response Fund. Donations to this fund will provide flexible support to local nonprofits that are already responding to increasing needs as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Learn more here. If you would like to add your support, you can make a donation here: Donate Today

These unrestricted grants sustain and develop vital community services for residents who stand to lose the most during this unfolding emergency. In its initial phase, rapid-response grants from this fund will address increased basic human needs, community service delivery barriers, and health and safety issues.

Giving All Ways

This is a critical time for so many, particularly for the people and organizations whose well-being depends on connecting face-to-face. We hope this fund is just one of the many ways our community will come together in support of our neighbors in need. Nonprofits have an increased need for unrestricted funds immediately, and the need will persist long after this challenge passes.

Now is the time to double down for our community. Let’s give in all the ways we can during this trying time. Your support will make all the difference for those most affected and the local nonprofits that are working hard to get them back on their feet.

Here are some additional helpful resources:  

The World Health Organization
The Washington State Department of Health

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About The Author

Jennifer Rhoads, CFP

Jennifer Rhoads served as President of the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington for nearly a decade before stepping down in April 2022. Under her leadership, the Community Foundation distributed over $100 million in grants, launched Give More 24! and grew its total charitable assets more than fivefold, becoming the second-largest Community Foundation in Washington state.