The Evanston Community Foundation (ECF) announced it has distributed $327,000 in its latest round of grants to address the impact of the pandemic. The Rapid Response grants will provide essential human services to address homelessness, food insecurity and mental health.  The Fund continues to provide grants for immediate needs as well as recovery initiatives, and it is still $50,000 short of the $1 million Challenge Match goal set in October, 2020.

 “We announced a second Rapid Response Challenge Match and were very close to meeting it by year-end, thanks to the generosity of our community,” said Elspeth Revere, ECF Interim CEO and President.  “Unfortunately, this pandemic did not end with the year 2020, and we are seeing continuing need, so we will continue to work to quickly meet our goal so that we can continue to support these critical initiatives.”

Among the recipients of the latest Rapid Response grants is a collaborative grocery program with C&W Market, Evanston Aid, and District 65 Family Center. The grant will address hunger and support families with very young children, seniors, and minority-owned business. The dollars awarded will provide much-needed groceries to more than 400 Evanstonians.

Other organizations receiving grants include Interfaith Action of Evanston for a warming center, and several small businesses that will prepare and provide food to individuals and families in the community (Soul & Smoke, Jennifer’s Edibles, Chef Q and Gyros Planet).

Operating Grants were also awarded to seven local nonprofit organizations. These grants are specifically for Evanston-serving nonprofits facing significant financial challenges due to lost fundraising revenue and expenses arising from increased, new, or changed need for services in this crisis. The grants recipients include Art Encounter, Childcare Network of Evanston, Infant Welfare Society of Evanston, Metropolitan Family Services, McGaw YMCA, Trilogy and Northlight Theatre.

ECF created the Rapid Response Fund within days of COVID-19 arriving in Evanston in order to support vulnerable individuals and organizations in the community. In just 10 months the incredibly generous community has contributed nearly $4 million to the Fund, through two Matching Gift Challenges and general fundraising efforts. 

In addition, the Evanston Community Foundation made funds of its own available.  Grants of $4.3 million have been awarded through this Fund to community nonprofits and small businesses to date. 

“The impact of the virus has been staggering, and the challenges here in Evanston continue to exist. We have focused on relief in these first 10 months and hope to shift to recovery, supporting families and nonprofits in getting back on their feet, and then on rebuilding,” said Rebecca Cacayuran, Vice President for Community Investment. “But unfortunately, the relief phase is lasting longer than expected and the crisis has, once again, revealed the inequities in our community.”

In addition to the grants provided through the Rapid Response Fund, ECF has been working with partners to create collective initiatives to improve access to services for individuals and nonprofits during the crisis. For example, Evanston Care Network, a collaboration among Evanston Public Library, the City of Evanston 911, Amita Health/St. Francis and ECF, is an online platform that helps connect people to the services and support they need.

ECF remains informed about community needs during this specific time through a myriad of task forces and ad hoc committees, ranging from food insecurity to early childhood to immigrant and mixed status communities.  A comprehensive list of ways the Rapid Response Fund is addressing the needs of the community and ways to donate can be found here.