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Florida’s First Coast Relief Fund Delivers More Than $5 Million to Support North Florida Residents Affected by COVID-19 Pandemic

November 18, 2020

November 18, 2020 – Jacksonville, Florida – Florida’s First Coast Relief Fund awarded $5.4 million to 112 North Florida nonprofit agencies since the Relief Fund reopened in March to support residents disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Relief Fund is a collaboration between The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, Jessie Ball duPont Fund, Jewish Federation and Foundation of Northeast Florida, United Way of Northeast Florida and United Way of St. Johns County.

“The generosity of our community has been overwhelming since the start of the pandemic,” said Nina Waters, President, The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida. “From individual donors to foundations, corporations and the City of Jacksonville, this effort to support our neighbors who are most in need has been a truly collaborative local response.”

Every day, more than half a million people in Northeast Florida–almost 40 percent of our region’s population–struggle to afford basic necessities. The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically amplified these existing needs and created unprecedented demands on nonprofits. More than 408,477 individuals and 88,441 households received support from the Relief Fund. In certain cases, some individuals or households received multiple services. Support for mortgage and rent payments, food assistance and utilities payments made up more than 50 percent of the grants dollars awarded by the Relief Fund.

“Each week, as we reviewed dozens of the latest applications from nonprofit agencies, we were able to get a real-time view into the specific needs of our community, and respond accordingly,” said Rosi Melendez, Vice President of Community Impact and Strategic Investments, United Way of Northeast Florida. “Our case management partners shared that they saw many families unable to make ends meet as a result of COVID-19, including struggling to afford adequate food, lacking the financial security to pay utility bills and facing homelessness.”

The majority of these individuals and households (60 percent) were located in Duval County, and Relief Fund grants also supported nonprofits and residents in Baker (1.2 percent), Clay (3.4 percent), Nassau (5.2 percent), Putnam (11.7 percent) and St. Johns (18.5 percent) counties.

“The Relief Fund grants management team used a thoughtful, strategic approach that involved making grants to organizations with case management ability to ensure grant dollars were administered and tracked effectively and those dollars reached families in the most need,” said Kathleen Shaw, Vice President, Programs, The Community Foundation For Northeast Florida. “The incredibly fast timeline from the onset of the pandemic, to the Relief Fund being reactivated, to donations flowing in, to grant dollars being administered and to families receiving assistance is a powerful testament to the generosity of our community, the lessons learned during previous crises and the resilience of our nonprofit sector.”

“This is community-driven philanthropy at its best,” said Mari Kuraishi, President, Jessie Ball duPont Fund. “Our community answered the call and stepped up to its responsibility to support our most vulnerable neighbors, and the strength of our Jacksonville nonprofit network allowed those neighbors to quickly receive the relief they needed.”

Designed to respond to immediate emergency needs, the Relief Fund has now closed and is no longer accepting donations as our community moves toward longer-term recovery solutions. The Relief Fund remains ready to reactivate in response to future emergencies.

“While the Relief Fund has served its purpose in responding to immediate needs in our community, the continued economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic means donations remain critical for our neighbors to continue to recover,” said Michelle Braun, President and CEO, United Way of Northeast Florida. “The pandemic has fundamentally altered the trajectory of the lives of our most vulnerable families, who will be feeling the effects of this disruption for years to come—and who need our continued support.”

Many partners in Florida’s First Coast Relief Fund have specific charitable opportunities to help address long-term needs caused by COVID-19. Contact The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, the Jewish Federation and Foundation for Northeast Florida, United Way of Northeast Florida and United Way of St. Johns County for more information on how you can support Northeast Florida’s road to recovery.

The final impact report, including all Relief Fund grant recipients, is available here. A complete list of Relief Fund donors can be found here.

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