ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — $1 million dollars has been offered to populations that include Black, Latinx, refugees, migrants, rural communities, individuals with physical and/or cognitive disabilities, and older adults, through the United Way and Rochester Area Community Foundation. It’s called the Community Crisis Fund.
We got to see this money at work for Wilson Commencement Park, a nonprofit supportive housing community in Rochester. Director of residential services Cavelle Mighty said they give services to women that come from all walks of life.
“Domestic violence, mental health issues, or just low income – we try to get them more self-sufficient and independent by providing case management services,” said Mighty. And they don’t just offer housing services – they offer provide parenting support, money management services, a study buddy program for children and more.
She said when the pandemic hit, they were hit hard financially. “COVID-19 was a big hit for us, because we want to give our clients in person support. We weren’t fully funded to do that, provide that in person support,” she said.
They had no choice but to apply for the Community Crisis Grant – and got it. With the funding they were able to buy new PPE, get cleaning products and equipment for virtual meetings for their programs.
“This is a partnership with a number of the philanthropic organizations in town, folks Farash Foundation, Greater Rochester Health Foundation, ESL Charitable Foundation and partners in leading the fund over at United Way,” said Simeon Banister, Vice President of Community Programs for Rochester Community Foundation.
Banister said the fund works to leverage resources to Black and indigenous people of color. “We know the effects of corona virus acutely felt with community of color so there was a real need to mobilize dollars in those way,” he said. “We wanted to make sure folks would be positioned well, so they could not only respond to the crisis that was emerging, but be sustained through the crisis.”
For Mighty, the funding did just that. “We feel like we can be here and support our clients in person and making sure we are both safe,” she said.
Banister said there is still time to apply for funds. Since March, more than $6 million has been raised for this fund, through donations. About $5 million of that has been distributed.
“In this last run we had 28 organizations, many of whom are led by people of color. We came up with an approach to segment out the applications that came in, so we could be responsive and build the structure of the fund to respond to organizations. We said if you are led by a person of color, or serving communities of color, we want to prioritize,” said Banister.
He said other prioritized populations include rural areas, seniors and elders and more. “We also had applications come in from non-priority populations that are still doing good work, and there are still funds for them too.”