Local Funders Launch Fund to Aid Community Recovery Across the Itasca Area

With the anticipated impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) throughout the Itasca Area, United Way of 1000 Lakes and the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation, in cooperation with other community funders, have created the Community Response Fund aimed at providing additional local relief to organizations affected by the outbreak.

“This Fund will allow us to rapidly pool and deploy resources to community-based organizations that are offering relief to families and individuals in need,” said Sarah Copeland, Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation Director of Grants and Programs. “It provides residents, businesses, and institutions – our neighbors – an option for directing their giving to impact local recovery efforts.”

The Community Response Fund provides maximum flexibility and responsiveness to aid 501(c)3 nonprofits assisting community members who face financial uncertainty stemming from efforts to contain the virus. Examples include, but are not limited to, agencies that provide access to food and health-related services, serve vulnerable populations such as seniors, aid those experiencing homelessness, and support learning and child care needs.

One hundred percent of donations to the Community Response Fund will go directly to organizations serving those in need due to the pandemic. Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation will administer the Fund in close partnership with United Way. The collaboration includes several other local community funders who are volunteering their knowledge and time to review and award grants: Area Community Funds, Bigfork Valley Community Foundation, Blandin Foundation, Deer River Area Health Care Foundation, Grand Itasca Foundation, and Itasca Community College Foundation.

“As the impact of COVID-19 to our community grows, so does the demand for services,” stated Kim Brink Smith, United Way Executive Director. “That’s why we are working together with other community funders to create a fund that works in concert with other community initiatives and provides much-needed resources to our agencies working diligently to keep local people safe and well.”

As the Community Response Fund builds, nonprofits interested in applying for funding will be able to submit a short online application at gracf.org. Eligible recipients must serve populations in Itasca County and the five surrounding communities of Bena (Cass County), Blackduck (Beltrami County), Hill City (Aitkin County), Northome (Koochiching County), and Remer (Cass County).

Gifts to the Fund are accepted in a variety of ways, including gifts of cash/check, credit cards, and electronic fund transfers. To make an online donation, visit uwlakes.org and gracf.org. Check donations can be made to United Way of 1000 Lakes (Suite A) or Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation (Suite E) and mailed to 350 NW 1st Ave., Grand Rapids, MN 55744. Include a reference of “Community Response Fund” in the memo line.

Related questions can be directed to kimberly@uwlakes.org or sarah.copeland@gracf.org.


About United Way of 1000 Lakes

Since 1963, the United Way of 1000 Lakes has partnered with local nonprofits to identify critical issues, create partnerships, and raise funds to help people in the Itasca Area. Mobilizing the caring power of the communities it serves, the organization’s mission drives work to create a happier, healthier community. They accomplish this by inspiring collaboration, fundraising, and volunteerism.

About Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation

The Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation has been connecting donors’ charitable intentions to community needs for over 25 years to make our Greater Itasca Area a better place to live. We invite you to become part of the great work we do and to include us in the conversation with your financial or estate planner to answer the question, “What good do you want your money to do?” For more information, visit our website at www.gracf.org or schedule a visit by calling (218) 999-9100.