Gulf Coast Community Foundation and Barancik Foundation award first grants through their COVID-19 Response Initiative

More than $220,000 going to a variety of nonprofits

Image courtesy Gulf Coast Community Foundation

The Gulf Coast Community Foundation and the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation have awarded 11 grants totaling more than $220,000 from their COVID-19 Response Initiative, they announced this week.

That is the first funding provided to organizations since the foundations began this new program, a news release explains.

The goal with these initial grants, the release says, is “to relieve strain on key health and human-service organizations that are aiding residents hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic.” Among the services the funding will support are emergency childcare for first responders, rental assistance for families recovering from homelessness, and virtual healthcare for high-risk patients, the release points out.

“Meanwhile, the foundations continue working closely with these and other lead safety-net agencies to prepare for a wave of cascading needs yet to emerge from the crisis,” the release notes.

“These grants — and many more we have in the pipeline — are what I call ‘quick hits,’” said Teri A Hansen, president and CEO of Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, in the release. “They give some of our strongest nonprofit partners what they need right now to continue their critical work, even as their own staffs and revenues are affected. We will continue working with them to prepare for the intermediate and long-term challenges yet to come,” she added in the release.

“At Harvest House, for example, which provides supportive housing for hundreds of Sarasota County residents overcoming homelessness or addiction, dozens of clients lost jobs or had work hours slashed in a matter of days,” the release explains. “A [$4,650] grant to buy laptop computers for staff is allowing case managers to continue counseling vulnerable residents remotely, while their desktop computers have been repurposed for safe use by those same clients for job searching and other needs,” the release says.

“CenterPlace Health, which offers primary healthcare to Medicaid patients, received [$20,000] to quickly transition to a telehealth model,” the release adds.

“Telehealth will allow us to continue providing care to all of our patients — especially our pregnant moms and babies,” said Melissa Parker, president and CEO of CenterPlace Health, in the release.

CenterPlace, which cares mostly for women and children, “serves many patients with multiple chronic conditions, who are especially susceptible to COVID-19,” the release explains.

Mark Pritchett. Image courtesy Gulf Coast Community Foundation

Additionally, a $50,000 grant to SKY Family YMCA “has enabled it to offer professional childcare to emergency responders and other essential healthcare personnel. These front-line workers have seen demand for their services increase at the same time that school closures leave them with no safe place for their children during the day,” the release notes.

“Right now, we are seeing unemployment spike as thousands of hard-working, low-income residents lose their jobs and face losing their homes,” said Mark Pritchett, president and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation, in the release. “Our first responders and healthcare workers and their families are straining under the pressure of this pandemic. Our initiative aims to be both nimble and strategic, easing pressures now while also weaving a stronger safety net for the more systemic issues our region will face,” he added in the release.

Pritchett noted that the foundations modified their grant processes so staff more quickly can receive, review, and assess funding requests. “The ability to turn around grants quickly, sometimes in less than 24 hours, enables them to meet needs in real time,” the release notes.

Among the other grants are the following:

  • First Step of Sarasota — $26,000 to ensure high-risk individuals in addiction recovery can continue to access counseling, therapy, psychiatric services and other support through telemedicine. The grant will fund laptop computers so clinicians can work remotely with patients.
  • Multicultural Health Institute — $5,000 to expand its health information outreach in the Newtown area to vulnerable populations most at risk for COVID-19. The institute’s staff “works closely with the elderly and those with chronic disease such as diabetes, hypertension/heart disease, cancer, and HIV/AIDS,” the release says.
  • Family Promise of South Sarasota County — “$25,000 for rent assistance to help low-income families who have overcome homelessness remain stably housed during the crisis,” the release adds. Many families the agency serves have lost jobs in industries hit hard by the pandemic, “while the trauma of their past experience would make a return to homelessness devastating,” the release says.
  • HOPE for North Port — “$500 for food-pantry assistance at Hope Community Church, one of the few food distribution sites in North Port, where demandhas doubled and clients are traveling from as far as Lee and Manatee counties. This grant comes from the Helen K. Hadden Memorial Endowment Fund at Gulf Coast Community Foundation,” the release points out.
  • Women’s Resource Center — $21,500 to provide critical counseling sessions and social support to women through enhanced telecommunications. Re-employment counseling is expected to be one of the biggest demands since the center has been forced to move to all virtual programming.
  • Gulfcoast Legal Services — $1,000 to support software for securely transmitting sensitive client data via email. “The technology will help the agency continue providing pro bono legal aid to vulnerable populations for issues such as domestic violence, housing evictions, financial insecurity, and immigration services,” the release says.
  • Capital Good Fund — “$30,000 to launch a new Crisis Relief Loan program that provides highly flexible, low-interest loans to Sarasota County residents most at risk from predatory lenders. The loans include a ‘pay it forward’ component, as repaid principal and interest rolls back into the loan fund so more loans can be funded to help other families in crisis. This grant is funded through Gulf Coast’s Financial Sustainability Initiative Fund,” the release adds.
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County — “$40,000 to launch its First Responder Program to provide free childcare to local first responders employed by Sarasota County Fire Department, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, Sarasota Memorial Hospital and the Sarasota Police Department,” the release notes.