San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, in partnership with the San Diego Foundation, United Way of San Diego and other major regional players, launched the San Diego COVID-19 Community Fund Monday and asked the public to donate to the philanthropic disaster-response effort.
The fund launched with $1.3 million to respond to three key areas impacting San Diegans: food insecurity, rental and utility assistance and income replacement — also known as gap funding.
“In the past when we’ve talking about communities coming together, we talk about literally coming together,” Fletcher said at a news conference announcing the fund’s creation. “That sense of coming together is not rooted in a physical sense. This is not one that calls for large rallies… It does call for large community action.”
The United Way of Greater Los Angeles launched a similar fund late last week in Los Angeles, and a similar fund was established in the San Francisco Bay Area.
San Diego Gas & Electric donated $1 million to the fund, with The San Diego Foundation providing the other $300,000. The coalition managing the fund “will work with local government, health agencies, nonprofits, businesses and other community partners to identify regional needs and assess potential grant recipients,” the fund’s website reads.
“San Diegans in the service, tourism, arts and hospitality industries are without work for the foreseeable future,” said Mark Stuart, the foundation’s president and CEO. “The fund will provide flexible resources to community-based organizations and emergency grants to nonprofit organizations.”
Bars and restaurants across the region are shuttering in the wake of coronavirus concerns. Hotels in San Diego are reporting cancellations, leaving some hotels with single-digit occupancy percentages, said Keith Maddox, executive secretary-treasurer of the San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council.
The partners hoped the news of the fund will inspire San Diegans to donate to help their neighbors.
“The economic consequences of this pandemic have upended many livelihoods,” said Caroline Winn, chief operating officer of San Diego Gas & Electric.
Fletcher said the need was great.
“Join us in contributing to this fund,” he said. “Whether it be $10, $1,000 or $10,000. The virus doesn’t detect fear, and fear isn’t going to help anyone put food on the table. A spirit of giving is also contagious. A spirit of empathy is also contagious.”
The United Way of San Diego already has a workers’ assistance fun. Nancy Sasaki, CEO of that organization, said the two funds together could offer relief in a trying time for workers.
According to the fund’s website, the managing partners of the fund will invest in local organizations in the coming weeks as they see needs arise.
Fletcher said he will continue to seek support for the fund from businesses, philanthropic organizations and will place an item on the next Board of Supervisors agenda.
To donate or to find out which organizations are eligible or receiving funding, visit www.sdfoundation.org/programs/programs-and-funds/san-diego-covid-19-community-response-fund/.
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