COVID-19 Response Fund Grows to $3.7 million for Nonprofits Serving City’s Most Vulnerable Populations

San Antonio Area Foundation, United Way of San Antonio & Bexar County and other partners have awarded $1.1 million so far, with more grants in progress.

During normal times, the House of Neighborly Service on the city’s West Side provides services for children, families and older adults from its headquarters in one of the city’s most distressed zip codes, 78207. 

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the non-profit’s staff has quickly modified how it helps clients to meet the demands of the crisis. Instead of serving meals for older adults onsite, they now offer home-cooked meals for curbside pick-up and delivery. In addition to continuing to provide low- to no-cost child care for working parents, the staff is now loaning devices to students and helping them to access Wi-Fi to complete school assignments remotely.

Antonio “Tony” Aceves Participating in Curbside Meal Delivery for Older Adults

“My daughter was struggling to get her school work done and the program lent her a tablet to do that,” said Yadira Aleman, whose daughter is in the out-of-school time program at House of Neighborly Service. “They didn’t just help her, but my family.”

Staff members are also helping older adults connect through Zoom and Facebook to relieve the isolation of stay at home orders and maintain contact to ensure critical needs like transportation and medical care are being met.

Mom Yadira Aleman and Daughter Elizabeth Part of Peace Pals Program

“I’m very proud of our staff,” said Sandra Morales, Executive Director of the House of Neighborly Service. “They are caring, agile and facing new challenges with grace.”

Morales and her team have received an extra $25,000 to help them meet the extra challenges of caring for clients during the pandemic. The funding came from the COVID-19 Response Fund, a collaboration between the San Antonio Area Foundation, the United Way of San Antonio & Bexar County and many other partners, who have raised $3.7 million so far to support nonprofit organizations serving the most economically vulnerable populations in San Antonio and surrounding areas. The fund launched on March 20 with $2.7 million raised.

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 economically 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.

So far, 36 nonprofits have received $1.1 million in awards from the fund, including grants of $50,000 each to Boys & Girls Clubs of San AntonioThe Health Collaborative, and Family Service Association.   

Another $50,000 award to the Emergency Childcare Assistance Fund (managed by United Way San Antonio & Bexar County) is helping to provide childcare for workers on the front lines of the crisis who are not able to shelter in place.

Mom Regina Maspero and children Wynter and Wynslow who are in Kids Place onsite childcare program

“Our goal was to create a unified effort among donors and to deploy funds quickly to start helping those in need right away,” said Marjie French, CEO of the San Antonio Area Foundation. “San Antonio is a compassionate city and we are very fortunate to have a dedicated philanthropic community and a strong network of nonprofit partners working tirelessly to serve those hit hardest by the coronavirus outbreak.”

“This situation is creating hardship disproportionately among our most vulnerable populations,” said Chris Martin, CEO for the United Way of San Antonio & Bexar County. “In addition to responding to immediate needs, the fund will also assist with longer term recovery, so we are grateful for the businesses, foundations and other donors who continue to support this effort.”

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.

The fund continues to accept applications from local nonprofit organizations. Applications are 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.

Individuals interested in making a donation to the Fund of $25 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 Fox San Antonio and The Rivard Report.