Find the helpers, then fund the helpers.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Fred Rogers

Less than a week ago, I tweeted that I wanted to be more helpful during this crisis and that the best thing I could do is support others working on the ground. I said I’d fund five non-profits with $10K grants for a total of $50K.

Within 24 hours, other donors joined (Ben and Jocelyn Blumenrose, Jake Cusack, Liz Fischbeck, Christine Lemke and Sarah Tavel, Leslie (Ziegler) Schrock, and two anonymous friends), bringing the total grant pool to over $450K.

We made a quick application for non-profits, and kept it open until Sunday at midnight. We received 362 (!!!) proposals from across the nation, far more than we ever imagined. (A massive thank you to Elana Berkowitz, Stuart Blitz, Vernita Boone Brown, Erica Chain, Dr. Ruth Ann Crystal, Dr. Ivor Horn, Cat Hwang, Jessica Koenig, Liisa Laukkanen, Austin Ledzian, Caroline Mauldin, Laura Peña, Dr. Annie Valente, and Michelle Wong for spending the last 72 hours reviewing proposals).

If you are able to donate right now, we’ve put information on all the non-profits which submitted proposals into this doc. Please give — these helpers need your support!

Because we know it’s important non-profits get funding ASAP, we didn’t have time to run a perfect process. There were many deserving groups we probably overlooked. But we did what we could with the time and information available, and evaluated proposals based on the following criteria:

  • The non-profit is solving an emergent problem created by COVID-19 vs. supporting ongoing operations stretched by COVID-19.

We did as much diligence as possible, and the list of proposals is here for other donors to review. If you are a non-profit leader that did not get funding from us, please do not be discouraged. We are opening up the list so other donors can find and back your work.

With that, we are excited to share the four themes that emerged, and the list of non-profits receiving grants to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on Americans. The themes:

  1. Protecting healthcare workers and supporting our healthcare system

So far we’ve sent over $450,000 in grants to 36 orgs across the US. These organizations — a few big, but most very small — are on turbocharge right now battling the COVID-19 crisis. We are so inspired by their work, and proud to help amplify their impact.

Theme 1: Protecting healthcare workers and supporting our healthcare system

  • The #GetMePPE movement, through the website GetUsPPE.org, is connecting healthcare workers who desperately need PPE with suppliers who can donate PPE or volunteers who can rapidly produce PPE. With this grant, GetUsPPE.org hopes to distribute more than 250,000+ masks and other PPE in the coming weeks.
  • RAKE in Cleveland, Ohio will use this grant to bring meals, care packages, and thank you notes to the “unsung heroes” in the healthcare workforce including nursing aids, janitors, and admitting clerks who are working hard to keep our healthcare system running during this pandemic.
  • Worksafe is an advocacy organization dedicated to promoting the right to a safe and healthy workplace. They are fighting for the health and safety of vulnerable healthcare workers grappling with workplace issues raised by #COVID19. Grant funds will be used to amplify their work to create and disseminate vital information for California workers grappling with workplace issues raised by the coronavirus.
  • CareMessage is a technology non-profit helping underserved patients. With COVID-19 impacting Safety Net Providers and patients, CareMessage is providing free COVID-19 messaging resources to help support these health centers. This grant will enable them to support over 500,000 additional patients.
  • MedGlobal is working with refugee camps in Bangladesh, Colombia, Greece, Pakistan, Yemen, Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria who will be hit hardest, as many are confined to cramped environments like overcrowded camps where disease can rapidly spread. This grant will provide them with soap, washing units, personal hygiene kits, and cleaning solutions in addition to medical supplies, medications ventilators, oxygen masks, and Protective Personal Equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers.
Just today, MedGlobal distributed COVID-19 supplies to 4000 families in addition to 8 quarantine centers In the Rafa area of Gaza.

Theme 2: Supporting women and children at greater risk of abuse

  • Ohio-based WomenSafe has provided emergency shelter, counseling, and case management for domestic violence survivors throughout Northeast Ohio for 40 years. With a mandatory shelter-in-place, the need for a safe space has increased greatly because of COVID-19. Our donation will provide 200 nights of emergency shelter to women in need.
The first set of deliveries to young single moms includes diapers, baby wipes, toiletries, Clorox wipes, baby formula and more. Most of the moms Step By Step supports work hourly jobs without vacation pay, so when schools and child cares closed, they knew they would have needs.
  • The Voices of Women mobilizes survivors of domestic violence in New York City to address the systematic breakdown that victims are facing as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Theme 3: Delivering needed aid, testing, and public health information to high-risk, vulnerable populations

  • Dade County Street Response (DCSR) is a street team of 60 volunteer medical students, social workers, and physicians providing COVID-19 screening and supplies to high-risk individuals in Miami Dade County.
This is the street team in Overtown on Monday. They surveyed over 100 homeless individuals in the area, and are going back out on Thursday.
  • Sierra Senior Services supports seniors in the Truckee/North Lake Tahoe community. This donation will allow them to meet the increased demand for their Meals on Wheels program, ensuring seniors can stay safe in their homes.
  • The Military Community Connection in Charleston, SC provides care coordination for homeless veterans. With this grant they will be able to screen attendees at their (outside) dinners and purchase needed thermometers, gloves, and hand sanitizer.
Part of the BHNC team. Note: this picture was taken before social distancing!
  • Cultiva La Salud is a public health advocacy organization working with vulnerable families in California’s Central Valley. They will use this donation to help a networked group of Latina immigrants share information about the transmission and prevention of COVID-19 with this population.

Theme 4: Mitigating the impact of unemployment due to COVID-19

  • Millions of Americans have had reduced work hours or have stopped working entirely due to COVID-19. mRelief makes it simple to get food assistance (SNAP) from a mobile-friendly website. This grant will help unlock $288,000 in SNAP benefits for Americans.
  • DriveChange trains formerly incarcerated youth to work in the foodservice industry. COVID-19 interrupted their fellowships, and most cannot collect unemployment as they were hired in January. This grant will support these young adults as they continue virtual learning and aid in food distribution to food insecure New Yorkers in need, including Drive Change alumni and their families.

These non-profits need our help more than ever. Please consider donating today!

Trying to make a difference.