First wave of funding awarded to support local nonprofits serving economically vulnerable; new fund partners added to increase fund to over $2.8M.

Rose Gatica, a resident at one of Merced Housing’s local affordable housing communities that includes social services supports, is relying on the nonprofit’s care during this difficult time. Rosa shared, “Miss DeeAnn [Merced Housing’s resident services coordinator] always looks out for me. The food distribution is good for us. I’ve got kids—they eat all day. It gets scary once in a while, but I just pray about it, to be honest with you.” That’s the caring spirit of San Antonio in action. The city’s nonprofit organizations continue to be on the front lines alongside first responders, our medical community and others serving those hit hardest by the COVID-19 outbreak. From senior citizens, to single moms, to the workers who must serve during the emergency, yet don’t have the resources to keep their families going, nonprofits are answering the call of our community’s most vulnerable.

Rose Gatica Merced, Housing Resident, and daughter Armya

The COVID-19 Response Fund was initially seeded with over $2.7 million to provide immediate support and also create pathways for the longer-term recovery needed by our community. The fund has now grown to over $2.8 million thanks to new partners such as the Houston H. and Carolyn H. Harte Fund. Partners who originally invested in the fund include the John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation, H. E. Butt Foundation, Harvey E. Najim and the Najim Charitable Foundation, Kronkosky Charitable Foundation, NuStar Energy, Greehey Family Foundation, Mays Family Foundation, Tobin Endowment, City of San Antonio, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase and Co., 80|20 Foundation, Bank of San Antonio and Bexar County.                                               

Funds will be awarded to nonprofits who in turn serve the economically vulnerable, in all areas of San Antonio, and various populations including children/youth, families and older adults. The first wave of immediate relief has been awarded to House of Neighborly ServiceMadonna CenterFamily Service AssociationMerced HousingLiftFundSan Antonio for Growth on the Eastside (SAGE)South Texas Blood and Tissue Center, San Antonio Food Bank, I Care San Antonio, and Meals on Wheels. Collectively, the nonprofits were awarded $350,000. 

Nonprofits awarded funding in this first wave of support provide for our community’s most impacted citizens, including the Madonna Center’s Senior Services and Promotoras Programs. These programs bring meals and case management through community health workers directly to older adults, who are at most risk during the coronavirus outbreak. With restrictions in place, older adults served by the Madonna Center may otherwise go without food or healthcare. Other nonprofits are meeting increased caseload needs for social services supports in our city’s most challenged zip codes. Consideration for the impact of small businesses and their employees was addressed by supporting LiftFund. 

senior centers and Pre-K sites to aid in immediate support. Feedback from that gift revealed that the most pressing need was for prescription assistance to individuals with underlying health conditions.

Additionally, $50,000 in funds were effectively quadrupled by gifts from the City of San Antonio and United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County to provide the childcare for frontline workers. The funds for childcare will collectively provide three weeks of childcare as workers care for our city who may not have resources to care for their children during this tenuous time. 

Nearly 50 nonprofit applications have been received since the Fund was announced on March 20, 2020, requesting over $3 million in funding, with a stated need of over $32 million to meet growing demand. Nearly 100 more nonprofit applications are in a draft stage on the system, as nonprofit staff finalize applications and prepare to submit for consideration. Nonprofits may apply at Nonprofit awards will range from $5,000 to $50,000. Applications are reviewed within a 10-business day window, and awards are made shortly thereafter, electronically, to expedite the process. The rapid-response grants will be one-time, general operating investments.

The fund will provide 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. 

Grants will be provided on a rolling basis to ensure dollars are deployed in the community quickly and responsively. 

“The initial awards to these critical, frontline nonprofit partners are the first of many to come,” said Marjie French, CEO for the Area Foundation. “We intend to continue the support and to remain agile to the evolving situation. I remain deeply thankful for the caring spirit of our philanthropic community and the generous partners who have joined us at this important time in our community’s history.” 

“Providing childcare support is the hallmark of being responsive to our community’s families,” said Chris Martin, CEO for the United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County. “Recognizing the deep sacrifices that our frontline workers are facing as we strive to keep essential services operating, is part of how San Antonians care for each other during times of crisis.”  

The COVID-19 Response Fund is jointly managed by the San Antonio Area Foundation and the United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County. The Area Foundation is hosting the fund, waiving administrative fees, and encouraging businesses and philanthropic partners to join in the response. 

Samuel Mireles, Merced Housing Resident 

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 may contact Lisa Brunsvold at or 210-228-3760 to join the effort. Individuals interested in making a donation to the Fund of $25 or more can do so through the United Way’s options, such as or texting HELPSATX to 41444. Donations made to the United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County will be added to the COVID-19 Response Fund.

  • Individuals who would like to apply for childcare assistance can do so at:
  • Businesses and organizations interested in joining the Fund’s efforts may contact: Lisa Brunsvold, or 210-228-3760
  • Individuals wishing to donate may do so at:, or text HELPSATX to 41444

Additional Client Quotes: Samuel Mireles, Merced Housing resident: “Thank the Lord I’m doing all right. But a lot of people need help. They need food. People are afraid to come out of their apartments. A lot of people need information about bills and everything. Vanessa helps with that.”

Diana Ramos, Merced Housing resident: “We got a letter from Vanessa [Merced Housing resident services coordinator] that was very informative about numbers we could call if we needed something. They’ve tried to inform us to stay in our apartments.”