The Seattle Foundation has announced the launch of a public-private fund that will work to rapidly deploy resources to local organizations on the frontlines of the region's coronavirus outbreak.
Launched with more than $2.5 million in initial commitments from a coalition of philanthropic organizations, governments, and businesses, the COVID-19 Response Fund is designed to complement the work of public health officials in the state and expand local capacity to address the outbreak. The foundation will host the fund and administer grants in partnership with the United Way of King County and King County's Pandemic Community Advisory Group to provide flexible resources to organizations working with communities disproportionately impacted by the outbreak and its economic consequences.
Pledges announced Monday include $1 million each from Amazon and Microsoft and $250,000 from the Starbucks Foundation. Other partners include Philanthropy Northwest, the Satterberg Foundation, Social Venture Partners, King County, the City of Seattle, and Alaska Airlines.
The fund will award one-time operating grants on a rolling basis to organizations working to assist residents without health insurance and/or access to sick days, people with limited English-language proficiency, healthcare and gig economy workers, and communities of color, among others. The first round of rapid-response grants will focus on strengthening the region's resiliency to respond to the outbreak by addressing the economic impact of reduced and lost work; the immediate needs of economically vulnerable populations resulting from closures; the increased demand for medical information and support; and fear and confusion about the outbreak among vulnerable residents.
"COVID-19 represents a battle on two fronts — a public health crisis and a threat to the economic stability of so many in our region," said Seattle Foundation president and CEO Tony Mestres. "While we are all dealing with the effects of this outbreak, some of our neighbors face disproportionate challenges around time off work, the cost of care, and reliable access to information. Through this fund and thanks to the generous support of our partners, we want to make sure everyone in our community has the support they need, regardless of race, place, income, or identity."
"The COVID-19 Response Fund is an important step in making sure we care for our most vulnerable neighbors during the outbreak. United Way knows that far too many people in King County are living just a missed paycheck away from hunger and homelessness," said United Way of King County CEO Gordon McHenry, Jr. "I'm proud to live in a community that is acting quickly to get resources where they are needed most."