June 30, 2020
INDIANAPOLIS – Today, the Central Indiana COVID-19 Community Economic Relief Fund (C-CERF) made a final round of unrestricted grants totaling more than $3.9 million to 48 community organizations in Marion County. Combined with the prior three rounds of grants made since March 24, C-CERF has granted $21.56 million to 186 organizations in Central Indiana serving individuals and families affected directly and indirectly by the COVID-19 pandemic.
After surveying the community to discover the highest areas of need, the C-CERF Task Force prioritized the final distribution of grants to organizations in Marion County focused on people struggling with mental health caused by isolation and stress; food access for individuals with lost income; and other underserved populations with special focus on the African American community. While the C-CERF Task Force granted funds in every round to a broad and diverse list of organizations, this last round included a deeper investment of more than $1 million into grassroots organizations led by and primarily serving people of color. To date, communities of color have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 compared to white Americans – a trend caused by higher rates of underlying medical conditions, lack of health services, and job loss during quarantine.
Established on March 13, 2020, C-CERF was the first significant economic relief fund in the U.S. to help serve communities as the COVID-19 crisis was evolving. With initial funding of $16.5 million from founding partners Lilly Endowment Inc., Central Indiana Community Foundation (through the Glick Fund and The Indianapolis Foundation), Eli Lilly and Company Foundation, Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, and United Way of Central Indiana (UWCI), it grew to more than $23 million in donations from individuals, corporate partners and foundations.
“We are proud to be part of a philanthropic community that lifted up such an important fund, so quickly and so generously, to ease the suffering of thousands of our residents during this crisis and before government relief money began to flow,” said Ann Murtlow, president and CEO of United Way. “We commend the direct service organizations and their employees and volunteers who we’ve had the honor of supporting through C-CERF and the many others who do good work but who we were unable to help with our substantial but still limited resources.”
C-CERF: From Crisis to Recovery
Although this completes the C-CERF grant funding to Marion County organizations, in early August United Way will announce the last grants to community organizations in Boone, Hancock, Hamilton, Hendricks and Morgan counties who are serving the needs of individuals affected by the pandemic in those areas. This funding was part of a separate $3.5 million gift from Lilly Endowment Inc. To date, $1.8 million has been granted to 50 organizations outside Marion County.
The effects of the pandemic on the economy continue even as active cases of COVID-19 decline. With record unemployment, poverty is expected to rise and families will continue to be stretched thin to cover the basics like food, rent and utilities. As Central Indiana’s economy slowly re-opens, philanthropy has an important role to play in partnership with corporations and government in the gradual recovery effort of the community. Each of the founding C-CERF funders is committed to work alongside the public and private sector to continue this hard work in the days and months to come.
“Through C-CERF, funders have been able to come together to serve our community during this unprecedented time of need,” said Rob Smith, Lilly Endowment’s senior vice president of collaborative strategies. “We are appreciative of UWCI’s administration of the fund, and we are inspired by the many organizations that are helping individuals and families who are most vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic. Like all of the C-CERF funders, we remain committed to helping Indianapolis not only recover from this crisis but emerge as a community where all of its residents can thrive.”
Volunteers Still Needed
Community organizations across Central Indiana still need help from volunteers. To learn about safe opportunities that are available, visit United Way’s COVID-19 volunteer page.
About the Central Indiana COVID-19 Community Economic Relief Fund (C-CERF)
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a coalition of community funders launched an initial $16.5 million Central Indiana COVID-19 Community Economic Relief Fund (C-CERF) to support human services organizations in Boone, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Marion, and Morgan counties during the crisis. This fund is governed by the C-CERF Task Force, which includes leaders from the founding partners: Lilly Endowment Inc., Central Indiana Community Foundation (through the Glick Fund and The Indianapolis Foundation), Eli Lilly and Company Foundation, Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, and United Way of Central Indiana. For information and updates on C-CERF, visit www.covid19cerf.org.
Jessica DiSanto | United Way of Central Indiana