In Response to COVID-19

Dear Members of the Area Foundation Family,

As we continue to chart a course through uncertain times, I have been humbled and overwhelmed by you – our community – your generosity, your compassion and your dedication. Please know that the Area Foundation is in this together with you. I am pleased to share these updates regarding charitable giving.

We have answered the call of the COVID-19 emergency in new and innovative ways. I would like to share with you a few of the resources that we are making available to our nonprofit organizations serving on the frontlines of our community, as well as important information for our family of donors and businesses.

COVID-19 Response Fund

In the last three weeks, we have partnered with the United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County to raise $3.7 million for the COVID-19 Response Fund which is being directed rapidly to support nonprofits serving the most vulnerable and health-challenged in our community. The fund resides at the Area Foundation, typical fees associated with this type of fund have been waived, and staff are managing the fund’s grant awards with assistance from a funder’s advisory committee. The John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation helped with a lead gift to start the fund. We are tremendously appreciative of all of our partners and donors who have invested in our community at this critical time.

We have received over 100 completed nonprofit applications, with hundreds more in the queue. We are responding to grant requests within ten days. We have distributed $1.1 million to 36 area nonprofits, and in total approved 65 nonprofits for $2 million. The fund makes new award decisions twice a week. 

  • If you know a nonprofit that would be well-served by this fund, please direct them to contact Gavin Nichols at covid19@saafdn.org or (210) 242-4720 for details.
  • Funds like yours, along with community businesses and philanthropic entities interested in contributing to the COVID-19 Response Fund should 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 our partner, the United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County, at www.helpsatx.org. The United Way is jointly managing the fund with the Area Foundation and is accepting individual donations.

As we continue to mobilize philanthropists, foundations, government entities, corporations and nonprofits to join us in this critical response for our fellow San Antonians, we will keep you updated through all our channels.

Creating Online Learning Supports for Nonprofits

As nonprofits pivot their services to provide services in new ways, the Area Foundation team is now providing support online. Examples include new online Zoom webinars on topics nonprofits indicated are of importance in this new environment, and collaborating with our leadership learning cohorts to understand ongoing and evolving needs. Finally, nonprofits searching for grants that may be available across the nation have an all-new online database available to them at no charge, thanks to a long-term, trusted relationship with Candid, who operates the Foundation Directory Online. Our partner, the United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County also has an excellent resource directory online for the community’s needs.

Resources for Businesses and their Employees

Our Philanthropy for Business team is assisting business clients with grantmaking and the administration of employee relief funds during this emergency response. In addition, we have compiled a list of resources and tools related to current COVID-19 public health concerns and financial assistance.

Please share the link to these resources with your employees and peers, and if you have questions about how we can support your business’s charitable endeavors now or in the future, please contact Jennifer Ballesteros at jballesteros@saafdn.org or (210) 775-6295.

Student Scholarship Support

As students are currently deciding which schools they will be attending and seeking financial assistance, this is still proving to be the busiest season for our scholarship work. Our team of staff and volunteers is working remotely to review the largest amount of scholarship applications received in our history and we are poised to award $5 million through over 100 scholarship funds this year.

In addition, we are regularly communicating with our current scholarship recipients in our College Success Program through our text messaging app and newsletters, and by pointing them to student loan forbearance opportunities now afforded through the recently passed CARES Act.

We continue to post many resources for current and future college students on our Scholarship Resources page. For more information about our scholarships program, please contact Bernice Uresti at buresti@saafdn.org or (210) 228-3759.

Stronger Together

First, I want to thank you for your ongoing support of our community; we are honored to be your partner. In addition to the Area Foundation’s efforts, I was asked to serve with other community leaders on the recently formed Mayor’s COVID-19 Response Task force, which is addressing immediate and long-term needs resulting from the pandemic. I look forward to sharing with you ongoing updates from the task force and the results of the COVID-19 Response Fund’s efforts.

Some of our donors have expressed a desire for us to evaluate our grantmaking minimum thresholds. We are doing just that and should have information to share very soon.

Finally, I want to recognize my staff who are going above and beyond to be especially flexible and responsive during these times of vulnerability and loss. We are all here for you, and we are stronger together.

With gratitude and respect,


Marjie M. French