Home covid COVID19 emergency fund nears $1 million; committee and process named

COVID19 emergency fund nears $1 million; committee and process named


Boys and Girls Club CEO Michael Johnson and United Way of Dane County CEO Renee Moe announced Friday that the Dane County COVID19 Emergency Fund had raised more than $900,000 over the past week and outlined the process for distribution of funds.

“I would love for us to raise a million by Monday,” Johnson said in a press conference held via Facebook Live. “There are thousands of people in this community, from children to seniors to people that have been laid off … and they’re going to need our support. So let’s just take that $885,000 let’s make it $1 million as raising this kind of money and give support to those that need it the most.”

“We’ve been able to see there are a lot of things going on in our community,” Moe said. “Obviously (there is a need for) childcare for the emergency workforce to keep them healthy and safe, able to work. Housing support for all the industries or people who have lost income. That’s really our priority right now, and then there’s still a lot of need for giving and volunteering to keep those resources flowing.”

Much of the funds have come in the form of large grants from corporations and wealthier individuals, but many donations were much smaller, Johnson said.

“We even had an 11 year old kid send me a message who gave 25 cents online,” Johnson said. “Every single penny for this campaign is going to make a difference.”

Johnson and Selfless Ambition CEO Henry Sanders first launched the Dane County COVID19 Emergency Fund on Friday, March 13, with a goal of $50,000. By the next day, the fund had topped $200,000.

Donations are still being accepted at www.unitedwaydanecounty.org/help4covid. Additionally, people can volunteer to help with relief efforts at volunteeryourtime.org

Half of the funds will be allocated to local social service agencies to address short-term needs like medical assistance for those impacted by the virus, food for children no longer in school and financial support for those out of work due to the outbreak. The other half will address longer-term needs like food security and prevention of eviction and homelessness in the months ahead.

The Boys and Girls Club of Dane County will manage the short-term relief funds through a newly-appointed committee. Funds will not be available for direct grants to individuals; rather, it will be granted to local charities to address those immediate needs.

“As much as I’d love to (give money directly to families), we have to be accountable for every penny,” Johnson said.

There will be many organizations allocated resources, including grassroots organizations,” BGCDC chief operating officer Sarah Ghee said in a Facebook comment. “BGCDC will be intentional about including larger, smaller, faith-based, and grassroots organizations. We will list those partners a week from today. BGCDC just doesn’t have the capacity for individual requests.”

The grant process is a quick one. Local nonprofit organizations can apply for funds to address immediate needs beginning today until Tuesday, March 24. Johnson said grant amounts will range from $500 to $50,000. The committee will meet on March 25 and 26, and announce grant decisions on March 27. The first checks will be distributed March 31 with additional funding distributed over the next month or two, depending on the timelines of individual grants and projects.

“Our goal is to get this money on the street right away,” Johnson said.

Application materials and instructions are availble at https://www.bgcdc.org/news/grant-opportunity-dane-county-covid-19-emergency-fund.

The committee will be chaired by Dr. Nestor Rodriguez, founder of Carbon World Health and an emergency room physician. It will include community activist Connie Brown, Park Bank vice president Jeff Mack, University of Wisconsin director of community relations Brenda Gonzalez, Northport and Packers Community Learning Center program director Pat Wongkit, and Kids Foward community outreach and engagement coordinator Corinda Rainey-Moore.

Dr. Nestor Rodriguez, Brenda Gonzalez, Connie Brown, Jeff Mack, Corinda Rainey-Moore, Pat Wongkit. Photos supplied.

“In this time of uncertainty, we all must do our part, and all that we can,” Wongkit said in a statement. “I’m honored to be on this committee and to work alongside these outstanding community members. Together we will move through this process quickly and get people the help they need.”

“I feel honored to be a part of the selection committee,” said Rainey-Moore. “I think the Boys and Girls Club rapid response to address the needs of the community by working collaboratively with other organizations such as United Way, Foster, and Rebalanced Life Wellness Association to solicit donations to address the needs is commendable. It is exactly the type of leadership we need in a time of crisis! I want to do my part in helping the community by applying my experience in grassroots organizing, mental health, community outreach and racial equity to ensure that the process is transparent and equitable.”

The grant process and guidelines were formed by an earlier committee, co-chaired by Rebalanced Life Wellness Foundation founder Aaron Perry and FOSTER founder Jacqueline Hunt. That committee also included Rodriguez, as well as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County CEO Sandy Morales and African American Council of Churches President Rev. Marcus Allen, as well as representatives of United Way, BGCDC and Selfless Ambition.

Rev. Marcus Allen, Sandy Morales, Jacqueline Hunt, Aaron Perry.

The funding for longer-term needs administered by the United Way of Dane County will also be allocated to nonprofit organizations. The application process will open March 27 and applications will be due April 10. Grant announcements will be made on May 4. The committee to oversee this process will be co-chaired by Wisconsin Center for Nursing executive director Barbara Nichols, Retired Dane County Human Services director Lynn Green and former Webcrafters CEO Jac Garner.

“We are in the process of recruiting members from the community, city, county, Madison Metropolitan School District, Madison Community Foundation, (and) donors,” United Way Vice President of Community Impact Martha Cranley wrote in an email to Madison365. “We are also reaching out to members of the BGC committee as well to create alignment in funding between the two funds.”

Both Johnson and Moe stressed that neither BGDC nor United Way will take any administrative fees — 100 percent of donations will go toward relief efforts. Further, all agencies receiving funds will be required to report on their use of funds.