A Community Responds To Crisis
The COVID-19 pandemic that began in March 2020 was a stunning reminder of the effects of inequities across our community in health care, employment, and education, among other areas. Between the health crisis, economic fallout, anti-Black racism, and white supremacy that threaten our communities and country, our community resolve was tested in almost unfathomable ways. And we saw the response of the people in the form of the largest uprisings for social and racial justice in our country’s history.
It was in this context that the East Bay Community Foundation launched and stewarded our COVID-19: A Just East Bay Response Fund.
In the press release dated April 7, 2020, EBCF President & CEO James Head contextualized the need for a community response to full-blown crisis: “What we’re hearing from groups is that simply put, families need money. This is a time when those most affected need resources for survival. These are communities that are already impacted by inequities and whose needs have only been exacerbated during this unprecedented pandemic.”
Our Board of Trustees seeded the fund with $1 million from our endowment. and over the course of 2020, we raised and distributed resources to organizations addressing the social, emotional, and economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak, helping to meet the needs of communities and organizations affected by the coronavirus.
On April 23, 2020, we hosted a virtual town hall event to provide updates about The COVID-19 Fund. This event brought together (virtually) donors, social movements, and the community.
Listening to Community Leaders
As the pandemic continued, our community partners reported extreme economic hardship across our communities and severe impacts to organizational operations. The effects have been both deep within organizations and broad across program areas, including the arts, education, health, housing, civic engagement, youth, economic development, and other vital community services. In December 2020, EBCF created a video that captures some of those stories.
The COVID-19 Fund Report
In July 2021, we published a report on the activities and outcomes of the fund. In it, we described the grantmaking priorities and timeline for The COVID-19 Fund, and several of our partners shared stories of how the fund made a difference to their organizations in the East Bay.
The fund provided over $8.2 million in grants to nonprofit organizations in Alameda and Contra Costa counties that are providing critical services and addressing effects of the pandemic in the hardest-hit communities. We also supported communities that organized to secure policies and resources to protect essential workers, renters, and families trying to survive on low incomes.
This grantmaking was possible due to the generous support of many donors and philanthropic partners, as well as the deep community connections among organizers and nonprofits in communities around the region. We are grateful for the many ways the East Bay community has helped make this response possible.
Evolving from Response to Transformation
Now, with the clarity that the COVID-19 pandemic and the underlying structural conditions that lead to inequities in health, wealth, well-being, education, housing, and jobs will persist, we are shifting from crisis response to long-term transformation. In August 2021, we announced that we were evolving the COVID-19 Fund into The Just East Bay Fund.
The Just East Bay Fund represents EBCF’s continued commitment to supporting the needs of the community leaders who are advancing an inclusive, fair, and just East Bay.