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Southern California Weekly Funders’ Discussion on COVID 19 - March 19 : Resources and Notes

Publication date: 
Friday, March 20, 2020

The purpose of the Weekly Calls is to create a platform through which funders in Southern California can share how they are responding to COVID-19, collectively identify unmet needs, help funders connect and align with one another, and discover how SCG can support your work. 


  • Bonnie Midura, Senior Program Manager, The California Endowment
  • Jason Lacsamana, Senior Program Officer, St. Joseph Community Partnership Fund
  • Kate Anderson, Director, Center for Strategic Partnerships
  • Emily Bradly, Senior Program Officer, Home for Good, United Way of Greater Los Angeles 



  • Think about immediate-needs and long-term solutions: No one knows how long we will have to face this global pandemic. While there are many immediate needs that funders can help address, philanthropy should also think about the potential long-term implications of the COVID-19 outbreak. Grantmakers can consider strategies like a staged approach to funding (to make sure there are funds if things intensify) and beginning to invest in recovery efforts post-outbreak. 
  • Helping get money on the ground faster! In order to meet the incredible needs on the ground and support financially impacted nonprofits, many grantmaking organizations are adjusting their grants and internal processes to help get funds to our most vulnerable communities as quickly as possible. 


  • Join the United Way of Greater Los Angeles’ weekly call with California Community Foundation and the Mayor’s Fund of Los Angeles for a deep dive into investing in response efforts and how you can be a resource to the community. To register, contact United Way of Greater Los Angeles
  • Support cash flow for efforts on the ground! You can help providers and grantees by advancing payments, dispersing grants early, unlocking other dollars you hold, or finding other ways to be flexible. 


The California Endowment (TCE)

Bonnie Midura, Senior Program Manager 

COVID-19 is very different from normal disasters: there is no clear middle or end. That, coupled with the potential economic downturn, means that TCE is looking at a need for long-term engagement that will likely impact operations and grantmaking. TCE is taking a phased approach. Our priorities in phase 1 include: 

  • State-Wide Rapid-Response: Yesterday, TCE’s Board of Directors approved an allocation of up to $5 million for COVID-19. TCE is focused on getting dollars on the ground in the quickest way possible by giving funds to existing networks, associations, community foundations, and regional foundations that have established funds so that they can deploy them immediately. They’re also emphasizing regions in California that have often gotten overlooked during past disasters. 
  • Regional Focus: TCE is utilizing Southern California foundations with already established funds and focusing on healthcare delivery systems and public health systems. 
  • Vulnerable Populations: Focusing on vulnerable populations that are not faring well to COVID-19 like homeless populations, immigrants, day laborers, farmworkers, domestic workers, and others. They’re utilizing statewide associations and networks to support grants.
  • Non-Funding Response: TCE is trying to provide flexibility to grantees. They are looking at unrestricted grants, rethinking grant reporting requirements, guaranteeing on-time payments, looking into accelerating payments, and letting grantees keep sponsorship dollars if they’ve had to cancel an event. 
  • Internal Operations: TCE was able to initiate, approve, and review 21 grants in a 48 hour period, which is unprecedented for a larger foundation.
  • Observations: Food security is becoming an issue. They’re paying attention to other regional funds emerging and also noting the economic impacts on nonprofits who are worried about sustainability. 


St. Joseph Community Partnership Fund (SJCPF)

Jason Lacsamana, Senior Program Officer

SJCPF has convened the Orange County Community Foundation, OC Grantmakers, and Charitable Ventures to develop an Orange County Community Resilience Fund

  • This fund is focused on immediate and long-term support through an equity and justice lens and is positioned for the rapid deployment of funds. The fund aims to create the architecture to allow grantmakers to contribute, coordinate efforts, communicate regularly, and support each other as peers. 
  • Since launching the fund on Monday, they’ve had 30 applications and raised $900,000 (expected to reach $2 million). 
  • They are supporting public health organizations and clinics that are in need, not just for health services, but also for outreach and other related support services. 
  • They are in conversation with the nonprofit community to discuss the loss of revenue, income, and contracts. They are preparing for conversations around potential mergers or consolidations so that they don’t lose critical community services. 


Center for Strategic Partnerships (CSP)

Kate Anderson, Director

The Center for Strategic Partnerships builds and supports cross-sector collaborations across LA County that benefit children, youth, and families in LA using an equity lens to guide our work. Currently, they’ve moved into the Office of Emergency Management, and are a part of the Emergency Operations Centers (OEC). They are helping philanthropy coordinate and align with the County’s current priorities. These are their priorities from the County and what they’re hoping to partner with philanthropy on: 

  • Housing Units: They are helping with infrastructure for individuals that need to isolate and helping to support people who are experiencing homelessness. They expect to need about 2,000 units. Half would be for people experiencing homelessness and the other half for people who can’t self-isolate in their existing living arrangements. CSP doesn’t need funding to build units, but they have partnered with philanthropy to help open up the hearts and minds, for example of hotels and motels, to allow them to use their units. 
  • Food & Care: The second piece is caring and feeding someone. People in isolation need food, laundry, on-site management, and more. CSP turned to Brilliant Corners, a CBO that works closely with the Department of Public Health Services in housing for health, for help. Philanthropy has given Brilliant Corners the cash on the ground immediately to provide care and feeding for people in isolation. Hilton Foundation gave $250,000 to respond in real-time.  
  • Supporting COVID Impacted: CSP is also working to support people who are COVID impacted in a number of ways.  First, working closely with the United Way, we are seeking support for persons experiencing homelessness who are at risk of COVID infection.  Second, we are working with the Department of Business and Consumer Affairs to support impacted businesses with a focus on those immigrant-owned.  Third, we are connecting with the work of the LACOE Foundation, which is working to support impacted students.  These are a few of the examples of our work thus far. 
  • Local Match and Federal Reimbursements: One of the questions Kate has been getting is “how do we make sure we don’t spend money on things the federal government is spending on?” The federal government will reimburse 75% of the costs for this crisis; items that qualify are food, the cost for units to put people in isolation, the masks that we are buying, etc. The state of CA will then reimburse 75% of that remaining 25%. But in order to draw down that funding, they need to show a local match. Philanthropic dollars can count toward that local match. CSP’s ask for Philanthropy is to keep track of what they’re giving specifically for COVID-19. When the dust settles, and they apply for reimbursements, they would like to turn to philanthropy to know what investments they’ve made to help these funds come down. 


United Way of Greater Los Angeles (UWGLA)

Emily Bradley, Senior Program Officer, Home for Good

UWGLA has set up a Pandemic Relief Fund. but they are working on all fronts to address this crisis. UWGLA is considering how we’re pacing their funding given that no one knows if we’ve hit the peak of the crisis and now that public money is flowing more freely than usual to the sector. They’re also looking to invest in ways that address short-term needs and long-term solutions. 

  • State Funding: Governor Newsome announced $1 billion in statewide support, of which $500 million will be spent initially across the state. Of that, $150 million will be dedicated to the homelessness response, and within that $17 million is for the city of LA, $10.5 million for the Los Angeles Services Homelessness Authority, and $10 million for LA County. Collectively, that’s around $40 million to work within this initial wave for homelessness. It’s likely going to go to the emergency response on the ground to help outreach workers, individuals living on the streets, and the shelter response. 
  • Immediate Needs: UWGLA hears a lot about materials, supplies, and food security. They’re also looking at technology because a lot of their service centers are not set up to work remotely, but they are being asked to provide services remotely. UWGLA need funds to improve the infrastructure of their systems to provide virtual services. 
  • Shelters: UWGLA also needs to protect the shelter sites that they have in addition to growing the number of sites that are available to bring people inside. As they look at reconfiguring shelters to adapt to the growing health crisis, they would like them to support medically vulnerable people ongoing. 
  • Funders Can Support Cash Flow: UWGLA has deep concerns about the sustainability of the nonprofit sector at this moment. Funders can help by advancing payments, considering grants early, providing other dollars on the ground now, and being of support to providers in unlocking dollars they already hold. 
  • Money Can’t Solve for Everything: There’s a lot of conversation about food security, but there’s nothing on grocery store shelves. How do you manage in a world where there is such demand across the board for all goods and services? UWGLA talked to the Emergency Management System on who’s the best buyer of things right now. It may not be your nonprofit; it may be a centralized approach. When they figure that out, they want to help infuse philanthropic funding to support these efforts to get supplies on the ground more quickly. 
  • Staged Approach: How do we ensure that we are meeting immediate needs now, ensure we are there when the peak hits, and in the recovery? While utility companies who have been great enough to suspend disconnections, what does this mean when the crisis is over, and someone has accumulated debt? What does it mean when the eviction moratorium that the city put in place is over, and people are trying to work through a payment plan to make sure they don’t lose their housing? Money needs to be managed through a long-term approach. 
  • Get Involved: If there funders who want to dive deeply into investing in these topics, you can join the weekly calls that will be hosted by the three LA funds (UWGLA, CCF, MFLA). These calls are not only about where our dollars can go but also how we can be a resource to the community. 



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