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$9.5 Million in Grants Awarded to Combat Health and Financial Disparities Magnified by COVID-19

194 nonprofits receive funds from the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund

In response to COVID-19’s continuous impact on Chicago residents and the local economy, the Chicago Community COVID-19 Respond Fund announced an additional $9.5 million in grants. Funds will support 194 nonprofit organizations in Chicago and the surrounding collar counties, providing emergency resources to residents hardest hit by the health and financial crisis.

For the third round of grants, 739 nonprofit organizations submitted applications seeking financial support. This overwhelming response illustrates the growing need for support. While the $9.5 million from this round of the Response Fund will help meet many urgent needs, it is clear that it will take the resources raised and much more to address the continuously emerging needs across our region.

The Response Fund continues to prioritize funding for organizations that serve populations or neighborhoods that are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. In recent weeks, data has shown that Latinx communities in Chicago have seen an uptick in COVID-19 confirmed cases, representing 41 percent of cases and 26 percent of deaths, although this figure is likely higher due to misclassification early in the pandemic. Black residents also represent 34 percent of cases and 49 percent of confirmed deaths in the city. As a result, organizations largely serving Black and Latinx populations were prioritized. This round’s funding included support for agencies serving Black communities in the form of a generous $2.7 million contribution from BET’s “Saving Our Selves: A BET COVID-19 Relief Effort.”

With Chicago Police Department domestic violence calls up 18 percent and the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline text messages seeing an increase of more than 2,000 percent during the stay at home order, the Response Fund also prioritized organizations providing services to individuals seeking safety. This work has always been a priority area of the Response Fund; however, in this round the steering committee sought to invest in the coordinated response led by the Network Advocating Against Domestic Violence (formerly known as the Battered Women’s Network), in addition to direct service organizations.

Additional prioritization was given to organizations serving undocumented immigrants, aging adults, families with children, people with disabilities and those who are justice-involved.

“COVID-19 has uncovered the longstanding inequities that exist amongst families and communities experiencing poverty and instability in our region,” said Dr. Helene Gayle, president and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust, who is also an expert in disease control and emergency response. “We are diligently working to provide the financial support necessary for nonprofits working in and supporting communities hardest hit by this pandemic to address the growing needs.”

The Response Fund aims to provide urgently needed access to emergency food and supplies, health services, emergency shelter, and financial assistance through direct cash transfers, as well as mortgage, rent and utility assistance. Examples of organizations include:

  • Respond Now in south suburban cook providing housing support, emergency shelter and food assistance.
  • Esperanza Health Centers providing COVID19 testing at no cost for uninsured residents.
  • Between Friends responding to the spike in reported domestic violence cases with counseling for individuals in need of resources.

Of the 194 grant recipients, 30 percent are located in the suburbs and surrounding collar counties. The full list of grantees can be found at

“The effects of the COVID-19 crisis and the challenges our neighbors face continue to evolve, and it’s crucial that we’re responsive to meet the moment,” said Sean Garrett, president and CEO of United Way of Metro Chicago. “The support from our amazing donors across the Chicago region has demonstrated the strength and unity of our community. Every dollar helps to bolster the work of the nonprofit workers and volunteers who are serving our friends, families and neighbors in their time of greatest need.”

Since the start of the pandemic, the Response Fund has raised more than $30 million and issued three rounds of grant support to 285 organizations totaling more than $18.3 million.

The Response Fund is supported by a coalition of public and private sector funders, including The Chicago Community Trust and United Way of Metro Chicago. Other donors include the Allstate Foundation, Baxter International Foundation, CDW, Hightower Advisors, Madison Dearborn Partners, and Target. To see a full list of supporters and learn how individuals and organizations can contribute, visit

Applications will continue to be assessed on an ongoing basis as the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund continues to make additional rounds of grants.

About The Chicago Community Trust

The Chicago Community Trust is a community foundation dedicated to strengthening the Chicago region and improving the lives of the people who call it home. For more than 100 years, the Trust has served as a trusted philanthropic partner, connecting the generosity of donors with community needs by making grants to nonprofit organizations working to create lasting change. Following the creation of a new strategic plan in 2019, the Trust stands committed to addressing Chicago’s legacy of systemic inequity and closing the racial and ethnic wealth gap, while continuing to respond to the critical needs of our most vulnerable residents. The Trust administers more than $360 million in annual grant making as part of its commitment to equity, opportunity and prosperity for the Chicago region. To learn more, visit

About United Way of Metro Chicago

United Way of Metro Chicago brings together businesses, government, nonprofits, and community leaders to deliver funding, resources, and expertise to nonprofit organizations across greater Chicago. We are working alongside our partners at the neighborhood level to tackle the systemic issues that have plagued our region, creating communities where children and families can thrive. United Way’s Neighborhood Network Initiative supports and coordinates investment and programming in 10 city and suburban communities to address community challenges and improve the lives of residents. United, we’re building stronger neighborhoods for a stronger Chicago region. For more information, visit

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