SPOTLIGHT   /   MAY 2020

A volunteer for nonprofit Roots Rising safely fills an order in the group's newly expanded farmers market space. An emergency grant is doubling the money of shoppers using SNAP benefits so they can buy more fresh food. Photo: Stephanie Zollshan / The Berkshire Eagle
Responding Together 
The headlines are hard to read right now. Every day, we grieve unthinkable losses, encounter new challenges and see our country's inequities in sharper relief. That's why we're so grateful to offer a small dose of good news as we close another week in this crisis.

Over the last eight weeks, we have gotten a restorative look at the true character of our communities. Donors have made gifts at all levels to support their struggling neighbors. Funders have come together in uncommon ways to match and amplify those gifts. And nonprofits that keep a loving eye on some of those hardest hit -- before and after this pandemic -- have shown resolve and resilience that are humbling.

Generosity. Cooperation. Hope. Even as we absorb more difficult news each day, these are the bedrock of our communities and they will see us through. 

This is an update on Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation's small part in this complex story. The emergency funds we have established in our four counties will continue making grants as funding permits. [ Learn more and see interactive graphs on our website .] 

We will gratefully receive new gifts from those who are able to give. If you have donated already, we thank you for your support.  

Berkshire County Update: An inspiring group of individuals, businesses and other funders has mobilized significant resources through the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund for Berkshire County, our joint fundraising and grantmaking effort with Berkshire United Way.  

Every week, grant dollars are reaching nonprofits in southern, central and northern parts of the county. Food and health or mental health services account for a majority of emergency needs being met, and low-income families and seniors are among the primary beneficiaries (see more about these grants here).

We are proud to partner with Northern Berkshire United Way and Williamstown Community Chest on this work.

Columbia County Update: Our response in Columbia County has two targets: nonprofits with experience helping stabilize families in crisis, and small businesses with fewer than 10 employees that are suffering from the loss of foot traffic in town centers. 

Nonprofits of every kind -- youth groups, immigrant advocates and even a transformed art space -- are stepping up to deliver food and meals. Hunger is the greatest need by far, and a range of grantees are helping to form an ad hoc safety net for groups such as people with disabilities and the formerly incarcerated. Meanwhile, more than 90 small businesses received one-time grants to help cover operational costs. [Learn more on our website.]

Members of our Fund for Columbia County committee have joined with other local leaders to award nonprofit grants, and a committee with representation from women- and minority-run businesses volunteered their time to review and award the small business grants. Our partnership with Columbia Economic Development Corporation has made our support for the business community possible. 

Northeast Dutchess County Update: In Northeast Dutchess County, we are focused on helping individuals and families in crisis, including an increasing number of residents who are experiencing sudden economic distress due to the pandemic.

Grants from our Neighbor-to-Neighbor Fund are giving trusted social service agencies new resources to help their clients buy meals, pay rent and cover medical bills. A generous donor's significant new gift will soon bring immediate relief to many residents facing extreme financial hardship, including those who may not be eligible for government assistance. Our provider partners are preparing for additional waves of requests as business closures continue and newly unemployed residents reach out for support.

Members of our Northeast Dutchess Fund committee are working closely with donors and social workers to help our neighbors during the pandemic. As part of their regular grantmaking cycle, the committee is currently reviewing applications that address the emerging needs of nonprofits due to COVID-19.  
Northwest Litchfield County Update: Our Northwest Corner COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund is deploying resources through social service providers and nonprofits to residents who are impacted by the pandemic.
In partnership with the Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation, we distributed rapid response grants to 20 nonprofits helping vulnerable residents and families cover the costs of essentials including food, utilities, rent, diapers, child-care tuition payments and medical supplies. [ Learn more on our website.] Our next round of grantmaking will help nonprofits deal with the adverse economic impact of the pandemic. Applications are due on May 15.
Through the work of skilled social service providers, we continue to offer emergency relief for residents of the Northwest Corner who are struggling during this crisis. What's more, thanks to a group of donors, 35 student families in the Region One School District received $100 grocery cards during spring break, when the district did not deliver meals. The leadership of our Northwest Corner Fund committee is instrumental in all of these efforts.

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You can find us online and on social media for additional updates. Our resources page for nonprofits will continue to expand. From all of us at Berkshire Taconic, thank you for your caring and your commitment to the brighter days ahead.
Spotlights are an occasional series of e-newsletters focused on Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation's strategic priorities and local impact. You can update your email preferences by clicking on the Update Profile link at the bottom of this email.