COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund


The Greater Washington Community Foundation launched the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund in March 2020 to mobilize support from a wide range of generous donors and partners to meet urgent needs and support long-term recovery efforts. From the beginning our focus has been on reaching disproportionately impacted communities, particularly low-income households and communities of color.

Together, our community helped mobilize more than $11 million in relief funds distributed to 300 local nonprofits providing food, shelter, help with remote learning, legal aid, and other vital services for our neighbors facing hardships due to COVID-19.

The application process for funding has closed but we continue to accept donations to the Fund and will make additional grants as funding allows.

recovery phase priorities

Due to the deep pre-existing inequities that have been exacerbated by this crisis, we recognize that many communities in our region are still struggling—and will be for some time. While we continue to respond to the critical needs of our community, we are also working to foster an equitable and just recovery that offers equal opportunity for all residents to thrive.

As community needs have evolved, so have our grantmaking priorities in response to the pandemic and economic crisis. Our latest round of recovery-focused grants included investments in nonprofits working across four priority areas*:

  • Supporting efforts to overcome vaccine hesitancy and open distribution sites in impacted communities.

  • Addressing the mental health needs of frontline workers and nonprofits whose staff members have been deeply impacted by COVID-19.

  • Advancing efforts to increase food access for students who qualify for free and reduced price meals to receive healthy meals through school programs.

  • Ensuring an equitable and safe return to school and expanding access to high quality learning opportunities.

In addition to these priorities, we continue to partner with generous donors on strategic grant opportunities focused on targeted areas of COVID-19 relief. For example, the Arts Forward Fund, a partnership with The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation and other foundations and individual donors, has raised nearly $3 million in relief funds to support struggling small to mid-size arts and culture organizations across the region. If you are interested in partnering with us on these priorities or other areas of response work, please contact Melen Hagos or Emily Davis.

*Please note that funding priorities may change as this crisis continues to evolve.

previous funding priorities

Community Foundation staff in collaboration with an advisory committee and working groups comprised of regional philanthropic leaders, subject matter experts, and local government advisors have conducted three grantmaking phases and reviewed more than 1,600 proposals from nonprofits across the region seeking more than $60 million in funding. Priority for funding was given to direct service providers with deep roots in the community and the ability to both address urgent needs and reach historically underserved populations.

A full list of the Fund’s nonprofit partners can be found here. To learn more about the unique stories of the organizations supported by the Fund, click here for impact videos. 

Previous investments (phases 1-3) responded to the following needs:

+ Food Security

To increase food access and bolster our region’s food security systems through support for critical infrastructure, coordination support, and emergency food assistance to families facing hardship.

Aligned Effort: Food for Montgomery

+ Childcare

To support the sustainability of family-based childcare and early learning providers, so they can reopen, continue to operate safely, and provide consistent care.

Aligned Effort: Children's Opportunity Fund

+ Domestic and Community Violence

To address the increase in violence and abuse, including domestic violence, rape, and intimate partner abuse, or other forms of community violence.

To support the civil legal aid needs of individuals during the pandemic, including those who are currently incarcerated, returning citizens, or about to be released.

+ Medical Care and Access

To provide PPE and other equipment for frontline workers, expand medical care for marginalized communities, and increase access to mental health support services.

+ Housing and Homelessness

To support individuals, families, and youth experiencing homelessness by expanding access to housing/shelter, health care, and other emergency services.

Aligned Effort: Partnership to End Homelessness

+ Education and Youth

To bridge the digital divide and support low-income families, youth disconnected from school or work, and students with special education needs.

Aligned Efforts: DC Education Equity Fund and Children's Opportunity Fund

+ Workforce and Small Business

To provide cash assistance to impacted workers, including hourly and gig economy workers, contractors, and workers excluded from unemployment or stimulus funds.

Aligned Efforts: Greater Washington Workforce Development Collaborative and Legacy Fund for Small Business Development

+ Advocacy & Organizing

Phase two investments also included funding for advocacy and community organizing projects focused on improving systems for food security, violence prevention, medical care access, affordable housing, childcare, and more.

Community News and Updates

Contact Us

Nonprofits interested in offering recommendations on evolving priorities can share suggestions with

Donors interested in supporting our regional effort can contact Melen Hagos at

For media inquiries, please contact Danielle Yates at

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