Foundations Step Up To Fight The Coronavirus Effect

(Nathaniel Wallace, Director of the Community and National Initiatives Program for Knight Foundation and Faye Nelson, Director of Michigan Programs at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.)

As the deadly coronavirus continues to spread throughout the world, local foundations are stepping up in the midst of the crisis to help the community.

“It’s important to remember we’re all in this together,” said Nathaniel Wallace, director of the Community and National Initiatives Program for Knight Foundation.

“We are focused on the health and safety of the residents of Detroit. We are assisting with the immediate needs of our communities impacted by COVID-19 by supporting relief funds and helping grantees apply for federal assistance through CARES and PPP for payroll and other operational expenses,” explained Wallace.

In addition, Knight Foundation has committed millions to local relief.

”In each of the 26 communities where we operate, we committed more than $10 million to local relief funds, mostly through our community foundation partners. In Detroit, we have committed $500,000 to the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan’s COVID-19 Relief Fund,” he stated.

“Our number one goal right now is helping our communities impacted by the coronavirus and to ensure those we support have the resources they need to deal with the crisis,” says Wallace.

“Right now, there’s nothing more important than locking arms with the community and lifting each other up,” he added.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation also recognizes the unprecedented time we are in as we deal with this global pandemic. Faye Alexander Nelson, director of Michigan Programs at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation said, “We have contributed to the United Way in support of basic community needs. Through direct funding and coordination with our grantee outreach, we are supporting the sustainability of small businesses through our Residents’ First Fund, a collaborative philanthropic fund that supports resident leaders. We have also expedited payments and relaxed requirements on fund use to enable aid to be distributed into the community as quickly as possible.”

She added that the organizations they support “are working directly in the community, many responding to basic resident needs such as water and food issues.”

“Our foundation is leveraging our expertise in a variety of areas during COVID-19, namely our work in the social determinants of health space,” said Nelson.

“A member of our Michigan team, Dr. Marijata C. Daniel-Echols, was selected to participate on the Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities being chaired by Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist as we view the disproportionate impact of this virus on the African American community and the racial equity work that the governor has launched,” she stated. “We look to share our experiences in the work to determine the best ways to meet the immediate needs within communities, and to contribute to changing the policies and practices that lead to the disparities in access to care and health outcomes laid bare by this pandemic.”

The Kellogg Foundation is also stepping up to support childcare providers during the pandemic.

“At the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, children are at the heart of everything we do,” reported Nelson. “In our role as co-chair of the Southeast Michigan Early Childhood Funders Collaborative, in partnership with the Kresge Foundation, we are sharing data from the early childhood field with the governor to support determining how to best support childcare providers during this crisis time.  We are also coordinating our support of early childhood with the Hope Starts Here initiative and the mayor’s office on a web-based platform of COVID-19 resources for parents and providers.

“Ultimately, everyone’s main purpose during this pandemic should be to minimize the widespread effects of this crisis,” says Nelson.

“We have no idea what the future holds or the extent of the COVID-19 aftermath, but we stand prepared to work with and support our communities moving forward,” she added.


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