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Updated: Jul 15, 2020

April 1, 2020, Evanston, IL – Evanston Community Foundation (ECF) has launched the Evanston Community Rapid Response Fund(ECRR), a fund created to quickly deploy much needed grants to the nonprofit community for those feeling the impact of COVID-19. ECF is uniquely positioned, and has been for more than 30 years, to quickly get funds and resources into areas where it is needed the most.

The Fund was launched just 10 days ago, when ECF’s board seeded it with $100,000 from the Foundation’s endowment, and several initial donors partnered to quickly grow it to over $500,000, a testament to the generosity and passion of Evanston residents to help those in need during a crisis. ECF has already disbursed $200,000 of the Fund to address basic human needs in Evanston.

“To better understand the immediate needs, we conducted a survey of our nonprofit community,” said Rebecca Cacayuran, Vice President for Community Investment.  “What we heard back was two major concerns: first, that the ongoing inequities that many Evanstonians experience around food, housing, and financial insecurity are exacerbated by this crisis and second, that our essential network of nonprofit services is going to be weakened by the loss of both earned and fundraising income. We are addressing immediate and long-term needs through the ECRR Fund,” Cacayuran said.  

The first round of funding addressed the immediate need of housing and food insecurity. These services are provided in partnership withConnections for the Homeless,YWCA Evanston/North Shore, andCurt’s Café. Connections for the Homeless and YWCA Evanston/North Shore are placing people experiencing homelessness in local hotel rooms, while Curt’s Café is preparing meals to those needing them. “We are working together to quickly to identify and serve the needs of the Evanston residents we serve. I am so grateful for ECF and their ability to get us the resources we need so quickly,” said Betty Boggs, Executive Director, Connections for the Homeless.

The second round of funding is focused on alleviating food insecurity in Evanston. Three grants are being made to Evanston women/minority owned businesses:Chef Q Ibaheem,Jennifer’s Edibles, andSoul & Smoke/Feast & Imbibe. Additional grants are going toFamily Promise,Interfaith Action of Evanston,Meals on Wheels Northeastern Illinois, andHillside Pantry.

"A difficult time has become even more difficult for those with limited access to nutrition,” said, Debi Genthe, Executive Director, Meals on Wheels Northeastern Illinois. “This grant from Evanston Community Foundation fills an urgent and dramatically growing need for us to add kitchen staff, supplies, and equipment. Most important, it will help us extend our capabilities as the premier provider of senior, homebound, and disabled nourishment and support services.”

ECF is building community collaboration and coordination in other ways. Nonprofit organizations need support during these times, and ECF is sharing information on help available from the Small Business Administration through the Federal Cares Act and will shortly issue an application for operating grants for nonprofit organizations. ECF is also working with current grantees in all its grants programs to release restrictions and allow them to use grant funds for operating expenses if needed. Explorations are underway to create collaborative efforts among ECF, the City of Evanston, and the nonprofit community to help community residents better access available assistance.

“Knowing that parents aren’t sleeping at night because they don’t know where their next meal will come from doesn’t sit right with me. Knowing that stress, nutrition, and immunity are linked, I can provide fresh-made, healthy meals in a quarantine kitchen.  This grant will allow me to provide mental health services through nutrition to my community. I am thankful to ECF,” said Chef Q Ibaheem.

“These unprecedented times requires a swift and coordinated response,” said Monique Jones, ECF’s President and CEO.  “As this crisis grows, we remain committed to leading with our values, focusing on local nonprofits serving our neighbors hit by the social, economic, and health impacts of this pandemic. I am proud of my team and grateful for community partners. Times like these are a prime example of why community foundations are essential. We are excited that we have been able to be nimble and creative in working with the nonprofits and volunteers of Evanston to start to address the challenges our community is facing. But there is a great deal more need that needs to be done. In order to do that, we need to grow the Evanston Community Rapid Response Fund,” said Jones. “Contributions of all sizes will help us work together.” Contributions to the Fund can be made here.

Founded in 1986, the Evanston Community Foundation helps Evanston thrive now and forever as a vibrant, equitable and inclusive Evanston, where every member of our community can thrive. Through grants, training, and making connections, we enable Evanston nonprofits and community organizations to deliver their mission more effectively. We leverage the generosity of our donors, so their charitable giving can have the greatest impact on our community. We are invested in Evanston now, forever and for everyone.

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