Financial aid: 6 agencies create new fund in ‘very unique’ partnership

Six agencies from southwest Ohio are partnering to establish a fund they hope reaches millions of dollars to aid those affected by the coronavirus and the effects of government response.

The Butler County United Way, the Hamilton Community Foundation, United Way of Warren County, the Warren County Foundation, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and United Way of Greater Cincinnati are working in the “very unique” collaboration, said Mag Baker, president and CEO of Butler County United Way.

The COVID19 Regional Response Fund will help those disproportionately affected, officials said.

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The fund will match $150,000 for Butler County and $100,000 to Warren County. She said in two weeks, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation has raised $450,000 of its $5 million goal.

Each county will accept funding applications and make decisions locally, based on the needs of their communities. Initially, those decisions will be made by representatives of the local United Way and Community Foundation.

Targeted services such as food insecurity, medical needs, housing and shelter, and childcare and senior services will be the initial focus. It is believed that support of these services will have the most impact on speeding up the human and economic recovery from COVID-19, Baker said.

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The grant sizes will be based on how much is requested, but more importantly, how many people will be “impacted by that gift,” she said.

Baker said the application process has been streamlined to one page in hopes of making it easier for those seeking financial assistance. The goal is to get the money into the hands of those who need it as fast as possible by eliminating red tape, she said.

The collaboration displayed in response to the coronavirus has shown that during the “worst of times, the best things can happen,” Baker said. “We got to take care of the people, the people who need it.”

Aaron Reid, president and CEO of United Way of Warren County, said while the organizations operate as independent nonprofit entities, it is “circumstances like this that make us realize that we can be much stronger working together than separately. This virus has created a common ground where the pooling of resources to address the emerging needs will have the greatest impact.”

Ellen Katz, president/CEO of Greater Cincinnati Foundation, called the partnerships “powerful” and said the collective resources and reach will ensure the “most ample, effective, and efficient philanthropic response.”

Other Butler County agencies also have taken steps to assist those impacted by the coronavirus.

Hamilton’s City Council voted unanimously to send a $300,000 cash infusion to 75 small businesses to help them get through the coronavirus crisis.

The Middletown Community Foundation has established a Coronavirus Emergency Fund to provide grants to area nonprofits that help individuals and families adversely effected by the coronavirus, said Traci Barnett, CEO of the Middletown Community Foundation.

The trustees have allocated an initial $50,000 in funding and are asking community members to donate to the fund with the goal of reaching a minimum of $100,000, Barnett said. She said $21,000 was donated the first week, pushing the total to $71,000, and the foundation is doing a mass mailing to companies and individuals in the area in hopes of raising more revenue.

The Oxford Community Foundation has started the Greater Oxford COVID-19 Organizational Assistance Fund and the first deadline for grant applications is April 15, with grant checks available in May for approved grants.


Butler County:

Warren County:

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