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ECF announces pandemic response grants

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The Evanston Community Foundation today announced it has distributed $327,000 in its latest round of grants to address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Rapid Response Fund grants will provide essential human services to address homelessness, food insecurity and mental health. The fund continues to provide grants for immediate needs as well as recovery initiatives, and it is still $50,000 short of the $1 million Challenge Match goal set in October.

“We announced a second Rapid Response Challenge Match and were very close to meeting it by year-end, thanks to the generosity of our community,” said Elspeth Revere, the foundation’s interim CEO. “Unfortunately, this pandemic did not end with the year 2020, and we are seeing continuing need, so we will continue to work to quickly meet our goal so that we can continue to support these critical initiatives.”

Among the recipients of the latest Rapid Response grants is a collaborative grocery program with C&W Market, Evanston Aid, and District 65 Family Center. The grant will address hunger and support families with very young children, seniors, and minority-owned business, providing groceries to more than 400 Evanstonians.

Other organizations receiving grants include Interfaith Action of Evanston for a warming center and several small businesses that will prepare and provide food to individuals and families in the community — Soul & Smoke, Jennifer’s Edibles, Chef Q and Gyros Planet.

Operating Grants were also awarded to seven local nonprofit organizations facing significant financial challenges due to lost fundraising revenue and expenses arising from increased, new, or changed need for services in this crisis.

Those grant recipients include Art Encounter, Childcare Network of Evanston, Infant Welfare Society of Evanston, Metropolitan Family Services, McGaw YMCA, Trilogy and Northlight Theatre.

Since the creation of the Rapid Response Fund last March community residents have contributed nearly $4 million to the Fund, through two Matching Gift Challenges and general fundraising efforts.

“The impact of the virus has been staggering, and the challenges here in Evanston continue to exist. We have focused on relief in these first 10 months and hope to shift to recovery, supporting families and nonprofits in getting back on their feet, and then on rebuilding,” said Rebecca Cacayuran, vice president for community investment. “But unfortunately, the relief phase is lasting longer than expected and the crisis has, once again, revealed the inequities in our community.”

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