Building Resilience in the Face of COVID-19

By Melen Hagos, Manager, Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships

We are incredibly grateful for this cash assistance that will benefit our ‘forgotten ones’ who are facing health problems, evictions, and hunger during this difficult time. –Maria Gomez, President & CEO, Mary’s Center

Since 2017, The Resilience Fund has been at the forefront of responding to the changing needs and priorities in our region. Following a brutal campaign season that contributed to a rise in instances of hate and intolerance, specifically towards immigrants and people of color, The Greater Washington Community Foundation and its partners came together to create a mechanism to ensure that our local communities were resilient and supported despite federal policy shifts that could adversely affect our neighbors.

Fast forward to 2020 and our world looks a bit different. We’re dealing with a global pandemic that has taken the lives of many individuals, most of which are people of color. And it’s no surprise that low-income communities and hourly wage workers, particularly people of color, have been disproportionately impacted through this crisis. While legislation has been passed to support our friends and neighbors in the region, undocumented immigrants have largely been left out of the conversation.

Staying True to Our Mission

Given our new reality, it is important to stay true to our mission. A key focus of the Resilience Fund has always been to support the critical needs of nonprofits responding to federal policy shifts on behalf of our most marginalized neighbors. Immigrant communities in particular have faced many hardships exacerbated by these changes, and the effects of COVID-19 are no different.

Due to the changing nature of our environment, we have decided to shift our strategy to reflect the current reality. We have decided to redirect the Resilience Fund’s remaining resources to make grants to nonprofit partners serving immigrant communities disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Following this final distribution of grants, we will shift our focus and efforts to COVID-19 response and prioritize meeting our community’s needs related to the pandemic through the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund.

We have made 7 final grants totaling $340,000 to organizations responding to the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on immigrant communities:

  • African Communities Together: To engage in rapid response activities to support African immigrants.

  • Ayuda: To support low-income immigrant clients by providing the resources needed for food medical needs, and housing.  

  • CASA de Maryland:  To support immigrant communities in Montgomery and Prince George’s County, Maryland, whose immigration status puts them in danger of extreme economic hardship.

  • Mary’s Center: To provide health services to immigrant communities in DC and Maryland. 

  • National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC): For an emergency fund providing support to undocumented individuals or individuals in mixed status households, and other individuals expressly excluded from federal relief.

  • Northern Virginia Family Services:  To support the Immigration Legal Service (ILS) program and its impact on immigrant communities in Northern Virginia as it relates to the uptick in domestic violence and sexual assault during this pandemic.

  • Prince George’s Child Resource Center: To support Prince George’s Child Resource Center in their ability to provide guidance and assistance to the childcare provider community in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

Grateful for the Past, Hopeful for our Future

We're very proud of the work we have been able to accomplish together with our nonprofit partners, which we could not have done without the help of our committed donors. Together, we’ve raised more than $1.3 million and made grants to 46 nonprofit organizations across the region since the Fund’s inception.

We would also like to express our sincere gratitude to the Steering Committee, which included the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, the Harman Family Foundation, the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, June Linowitz, Elaine Reuben, Rob and Sheri Rosenfeld, Mauri Ziff, and Jeff Hamond

This core group of individual and institutional donors worked with us to advise grant decisions and future Fund priorities, ultimately providing us with the thought partnership and accountability needed to ensure the Fund was successful. 

I will miss being part of the Resilience Fund Steering Committee, where the members' experience and expertise were shared in service of local need. We learned from grantees, our consultants, The Community Foundation’s supportive staff, and each other. I believe it was truly a success. –Elaine Reuben, Steering Committee member since 2017

At a difficult time for our country and our community, I felt the Resilience Fund was doing important work to alleviate suffering and to combat negative trends. I was truly honored to be helping and, in a time, when it was easy to feel overwhelmed and frustrated, it gave me a sense of purpose and agency.” –June Linowitz, Steering Committee member since 2017

As we begin to return to our daily routines, we know we won’t be returning to normal. In fact, I would encourage us to question if our “normal” was even good enough in the first place. The very same systems and structures that existed prior to the global pandemic have only been exacerbated during COVID-19. And, we anticipate the issues facing our most marginalized communities will only continue after we transition back to re-opening our country.  

COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund

If you’d like to continue to support our region’s immigrant communities, The Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund is one way to help. The Fund helps mitigate the impact on disproportionately affected communities in our region—including many immigrant populations that the Resilience Fund previously served.

Join us and, together, we can continue to help and empower our most marginalized neighbors towards a tomorrow that is more resilient, equitable, and just.