Find the helpers, then fund the helpers.

Halle Tecco
10 min readMar 25, 2020

“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.
  • The use of funds is clear, compelling, efficient, and measurable.
  • The non-profit has a leadership team and board which is diverse and representative of the population they are serving.
  • The organization has already shown commitment to ameliorating the impact of COVID-19 (e.g. this isn’t a new program they invented to get a grant).
  • The non-profit is a registered 501(c)3 or is working with a registered fiscal sponsored.
  • Some of us also picked non-profits in our local communities or hometowns.

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
  2. Supporting women and children at greater risk of abuse
  3. Delivering needed aid, testing, and public health information to high-risk, vulnerable populations
  4. Mitigating the impact of unemployment due to COVID-19

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, is connecting healthcare workers who desperately need PPE with suppliers who can donate PPE or volunteers who can rapidly produce PPE. With this grant, 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.
  • With an increased need for supplies during this COVID-19 pandemic, including hospital beds, ventilators, and personal protective equipment, even established and well-funded health systems in the U.S. are feeling the crunch. The Afya Foundation’s federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), operating on a shoestring budget, are faring much worse. With this grant, Afya will deliver 2,000 pounds of primary care consumable supplies and medical durables to University Settlement in New York City.
  • 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.
  • NYC hospitals are running out of supplies for NYC frontline workers — doctors, nurses & healthcare staff who are treating COVID-19 patients. The grassroots group of volunteers A Million Masks will use the donation to get 6,000+ N95 masks to the hardest hit ICUs and EDs in NYC.
  • 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.
  • Children are at higher risk for sexual abuse by their family members during quarantine. Darkness to Light is creating training videos featuring survival strategies and how to avoid isolation while quarantining.
  • Step By Step’s Emergency Relief Fund is helping to pay the bills of young, single moms in Lexington, KY so they can remain safely in their homes with their children, and avoid stress-related child abuse.
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.
  • S.O.U.L Sisters, operating in both Miami and Brooklyn, will use this grant to support vulnerable youth and their caregivers with basic needs, family conflict de-escalation, and socio-emotional support during the quarantine.
  • Ladies of Hope Ministries serves women and girls — and their families. Their primary service population is formerly incarcerated women who have experienced incredible trauma in their lives, from sexual violence, homelessness, food insecurity, and the compounding health effects of those circumstances. This grant will directly support basic needs like food and necessary items.
  • Dallas-based Poetic provides intensive aftercare for girls who have been exploited and trafficked. With their in-person programming cancelled due to COVID-19, they are now delivering goods (food, supplies) and support (therapy, case work) to 74 young women and families.

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.
  • During this crisis, undocumented and immigrant families may lack access to basic necessities like health insurance, paid sick leave, and unemployment. Those laid off may not be able to buy food or pay rent, utilities, and other bills. This donation will support Movimiento Cosecha’s relief fund and help these families access basic needs.
  • 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.
  • City Hope San Francisco serves the most vulnerable in the Tenderloin and beyond. With this grant they will provide hot meals to 1,800 unhoused neighbors this month and offset the costs of providing groceries to 145+ very low income households each week
  • Atlanta-based Pebble Tossers will use this donation to provide five youth volunteers with “mini-grants” to support urgent COVID-19 related needs like hunger and housing assistance, molding a new generation of servant leaders, philanthropists, and community activists.
  • The Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center in SF is one of the last remaining community-based affordable housing developers in San Francisco. They will use this donation to address the needs of the Coleridge Senior Housing site, helping the tenants access resources and mitigate isolation impact.
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.
  • The Global Liver Institute will use this grant to create
    COVID-19-specific health information in five languages for people with liver transplants, cancer, or those who are otherwise immunocompromised.
  • Dwell Mobile assists resettle drefugee families in Mobile, AL. They will use this grant to provide Chromebooks and technology training to 32 children to access their education during the shutdown.
  • The LA Food Bank has mobilized to feed people impacted by COVID-19 through their emergency Mobile Food Pantry distributions. Our grant will provide food for up to 40K meals to feed families across Los Angeles.
  • Freedom Overground will use this grant to write motions on behalf of 25 immunocompromised, elderly, LGBTIAQ, nonviolent prisoners. They will ask judges for home confinement and release from crowded jails — especially the notoriously crowded and unsanitary prisons where officers are taking the sanitary products and toilet paper home and leaving the prisoners without any protections. They will also petition state boards to ensure that facilities have testing, medical supplies, and medication to treat the virus.
  • NovaScripts Central will use the grant money to directly impact 250–300 uninsured patients in Northern Virginia. They will be able to provide 30–90 day supplies of insulin, inhalers, and other vital medications for free as well as secure vital medical equipment such as nebulizers, diabetes blood glucose test strips, and even monitors. It will also allow them to increase their eligibility level from 250% of the federal poverty level up to 300% allowing them to help reach more people and make a bigger difference. No one should have to choose between their medication or food and shelter.
  • Based in Cambridge, MA the Material Aid and Advocacy Program (MAAP) supports and empowers community members experiencing homelessness or living in poverty, through material aid, access to resources, and advocacy opportunities. This grant will support MAAP’s emergency outdoor operations providing people experiencing homelessness with 300 high-nutritional meals, 300 substantial snacks to-go, 120 tents, 80 sleeping bags, clothing for 150 people, and 300 hygiene kits.
  • The Detroit Justice Center has been doing a lot of rapid response work to help stabilize vulnerable Detroiters, including a successful effort to call for a moratorium on evictions statewide. This grant will fund their legal team to continue fighting for the most vulnerable residents of Detroit.

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.
  • Restaurant Opportunities Centers United advocates on behalf of restaurant workers across the country. Our funding will support their relief effort to support restaurant workers affected by #COVID19.
  • 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.
  • Start Small helps under-resourced entrepreneurs build businesses to increase their personal financial security and stimulate economic activity in their communities. Overnight, small businesses have been hit hard by COVID-19. This grant will allow Start Small to deliver one-on-one legal, financial, and marketing support to 400+ small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
  • The average annual salary for an American musician is $25-$30,000 and most are independent contractors. Due to COVID-19, venues, festivals, and concerts have been canceled leaving thousands without income. This grant will fund the MusiCares COVID-19 relief fund to help those affected.

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