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COVID Response Fund awards another $6.5 million to Atlanta nonprofits

Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund logo

By Maria Saporta

The United Way of Greater Atlanta and the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta have awarded another $6.5 million in grants to 214 organizations in response to the region’s increasing needs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two organizations’ Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund has raised more than $25 million to date from public and private donors across the region.

Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund logo

During this latest round of grants, BIPOC-led (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) organizations were prioritized and received more than 50 percent of the funding. The grants in the latest round were focused in the areas of education, food insecurity, housing and mental health.

A press release from the organizations detailed each of those categories:

Housing Grants:

In the past seven months, more than 1.4 million Georgians have received unemployment benefits. According to Neighborhood Nexus’ COVID-19 weekly report, there were 21,088 unemployment claims the week of October 18 – a 910 percent increase from the week of March 8 when the first case of COVID-19 came to Georgia. With loss of employment, questions about how families will maintain housing without employment become a significant concern.

Mental Health Services Grants:

In 2020, people have reported an increase in the number of mental health challenges they are facing; the severity is also more intense. Rates of symptoms in the second quarter of 2020 are significantly higher than in previous years: rates of anxiety increased from 8.1 percent in 2019 to 25.5 percent in 2020; depression rates went from 6.5 percent in 2019 to 24.3 percent in 2020; suicide ideation rates went from 4.3 percent in 2018 to 10.7 percent in 2020.

Education-focused Interventions Grants:

Nearly 90,000 students are without access to technology in just seven regional school districts (includes both rural and metro districts), representing technology hardware needs of $43.7 million and internet access needs of $10.9 million. Districts/schools have reduced budgets but an increased need for and a shortage of PPE and cleaning supplies. As 96 percent of schools reopen with some kind of virtual learning options, many working families throughout the region have no choice but to return to work without safe and licensed options for children to safely learn throughout the day.

As a result of COVID-19 related challenges, thousands of students may not return to college, which will have a residual impact on Georgia’s economic mobility due to a decrease in our talent pipeline.

Food Insecurity Grants:

The current and prospective economic picture with continued unemployment suggests food insecurity will continue to be a significant issue over the coming months. There are substantial racial disparities in food insecurity rates that have been exacerbated by the pandemic: Black households are over two times more likely to be food insecure than white households, while in Latinx households, food insecurity rates are three times as high as white households. Both of these population groups are also disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Additional disparities in food security can be seen in rural areas, where residents often do not have easy access to local emergency food resources like a food pantry and must travel to neighboring counties to receive assistance.

The Fund is still accepting donations from organizations and individuals – especially since COVID’s wrath is increasing. Future grant-making priorities will be announced in early 2021.

A total of nearly $25 million from the Fund has been mobilized to benefit 455 nonprofits thus far. A full listing of those grants are listed on both the Community Foundation’s website and United Way’s website.

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.


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