Three funds have mobilized over $3 Million to support COVID-19 relief in the Berkshires.

Collaborative and rapid-response grantmaking by Berkshire United Way, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, Northern Berkshire United Way and Williamstown Community Chest during the COVID-19 pandemic has helped service providers and schools, many of them working in tandem and serving the same residents, reach an estimated 69,000 people in Berkshire County.

From March 19 to Aug. 3, the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund for Berkshire County distributed more than $2 million in relief grants to 95 nonprofit organizations helping the most vulnerable populations in the county. The fund has awarded 132 grants to help with food, housing, health and mental health services, and emergency child-care and youth services, with a focus on hard hit populations such as low-income families, communities of color and seniors.

When we realized this pandemic would be devastating to the nonprofit sector, our local economy and our neighbors, our organizations came together quickly to mobilize resources and funding to help our community through this challenging time... Thanks to our generous donors, our grantmaking team continued to award grants, even as needs shifted. This pandemic is far from over, but we remain here for good to help the people of Berkshire County. ~ Candace Winkler, president and CEO of Berkshire United Way

Responding Together:

A new report released by Berkshire Taconic and Berkshire United Way, Responding Together: Outcomes and Impacts from the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund for Berkshire County, draws on reports from grantees to show that flexible resources helped them meet critical needs in the community.

The report provides an overview of grantmaking, stories from grantees, and a summary of outcomes and impacts by service clusters and closes with insights about community resilience in Berkshire County.

The in-depth report, along with a condensed report on the response, can be found on Berkshire United Way’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund web page.

BTCF, MA Funds:

In partnership with the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund, BTCF worked with BUW to mobilize an additional $750,000 for grants focused on essential frontline workers and vulnerable populations including the homeless, immigrants, people with disabilities and those facing food insecurity. This statewide fund, made possible through private philanthropy, worked in concert with regional community foundations to understand the response and relief landscape, strategically filling in where gaps are pronounced.

BTCF also activated its longstanding emergency assistance Neighbor-to-Neighbor funds. Established in the wake of the Great Recession, these relief funds support emergency grants for medical, food, utility and other critical baseline services for people in crisis around the region through trusted providers.

Grants from the Berkshire County Neighbor-to-Neighbor Fund currently total more than $250,000 to 13 organizations. Together, the three funds awarded 185 grants.

Grantmaking has paused for the four organizations to assess the longer-term needs related to the pandemic. They will continue to monitor emerging needs from community partners and seek to better understand how recovery efforts for the nonprofit sector can build stability for vulnerable residents and the organizations they count on for support.

(This information was obtained from a press release from Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation)

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