$1 Million Challenge Grant Brings COVID-19 Response Fund to $5.3 Million

$500,000 each from Harvey Najim, John L. Santikos Fund boosts fund’s support to nonprofits.

Two new $500,000 donations have given a significant boost to the COVID-19 Response Fund, bringing funds donated to help San Antonians to $5.3 million.

A $500,000 challenge grant from San Antonio philanthropist Harvey Najim last week spurred the John L. Santikos Fund of the San Antonio Area Foundation to match that amount with an additional $500,000. The two donations, along with gifts from many other donors have helped the fund nearly double in size since it originally launched on March 20 with $2.7 million.

The fund, jointly managed by the San Antonio Area Foundation, the United Way of San Antonio & Bexar County, is dedicated to supporting nonprofit organizations serving the most vulnerable populations in San Antonio and surrounding areas.

So far, 103 local nonprofits have received $3.3 million in grants from the fund, with an average award of $30,824. Grant recipients include:

  • Christian Assistance Ministry received $50,000 to help people affected by homelessness, poverty and financial issues with necessities including food, prescription support, hygiene supplies, baby formula, baby wipes, diapers, and more.
  • The Children’s Shelter received $50,000 for additional personnel, meals, learning and activities for the increased number of children in its care due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • The Chromosome 18 Registry & Research Society received $25,000 to create new resources, including outlines for physical, speech, and occupational therapy that families can do at home, develop podcasts, and monthly live broadcasts to keep families connected.

The COVID-19 Response Fund continues to accept applications from local nonprofit organizations. Applications were available online at www.saafdn.org/covid19fund. Decisions are made within 10 business days and awards made electronically. The rapid-response grants will be one-time, general operating investments.

The fund provides grants to local nonprofits addressing five key areas: the economic impact of reduced and lost work due to the broader coronavirus outbreak; the immediate needs of vulnerable populations caused by COVID-19 related closures; increased demand for medical information and support; fear and confusion about the outbreak amongst our most vulnerable residents; and resources available for families of school-aged children.

“We are profoundly grateful for Harvey Najim’s initial contribution and his most recent challenge grant, which we were able to meet,” said Marjie French, CEO of the San Antonio Area Foundation. “The significant gift will help us address the immediate and urgent needs of our community.”

“This funding is making a real difference to people who been have significantly impacted by the pandemic: those who have lost their jobs, older populations, working parents in need of childcare, and school-age children,” said Chris Martin, CEO for the United Way of San Antonio & Bexar County. “We sincerely appreciate Mr. Najim and the John L. Santikos Fund for their generous gifts, along with the businesses, foundations and other donors who continue to support this effort.”

The Fund’s efforts are being recognized statewide. During a recent call with Ray Lopez, assistant vice president for community development with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, he stated “I have been impressed with the work of the San Antonio Area Foundation, in partnership with the United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County.” Lopez further shared, “In our work we have seen how philanthropic partners have rallied across the state during this difficult time, and the work of these two partners is exceptional, as evidenced by their agility and responsiveness to their community’s needs.”

The Area Foundation and United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County continue to actively raise funds for the response effort to enable multiple rounds of support as the community needs and challenges evolve. Businesses and philanthropic entities wishing to contribute may contact Lisa Brunsvold at lbrunsvold@saafdn.org or 210-228-3760.

Individuals interested in making a donation to the Fund of $10 or more can do so through the United Way’s options, such as www.helpsatx.org or texting HELPSATX to 41444. All the partners engaged in this effort will be actively working to address community needs.

Coverage of this release has been published by Express-News and the Rivard Report.