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Foundations raise more than $4 million to help nonprofits hit by Covid-19

As Covid-19 forces nonprofits across Western New York to cut hours and staff, 18 local foundations announced Tuesday they’re banding together to help support them.

The Western New York COVID-19 Community Response Fund, a project of the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County and 17 other local foundations, has already raised more than $4 million, organizers said.

Funding will be awarded to local nonprofit organizations working in the eight counties of Western New York, and will focus initially on health, human services, food, childcare and the needs of frontline responders. The grants are intended to supplement public sector funds.

Much like restaurants, retail stores and other public-facing businesses, local human service and cultural organizations have been forced over the past week to strain their budgets and furlough staff as coronavirus disrupts cash flows and normal operations. Last Friday, local nonprofit organizations, as well as small, for-profit businesses, also became eligible for low-interest disaster loans through the Small Business Administration.

More than three dozen prominent charities, including the national United Way and American Red Cross, warned Congressional leaders in a letter last week that "millions of jobs" are at risk in America's charitable sector.

“Throughout our region, community-based organizations are working tirelessly to meet the needs of Western New Yorkers affected by the ongoing impact of COVID-19,” Dr. Nora OBrien-Suric, the president of the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York, said in a statement. “The WNY COVID-19 Community Response Fund is an opportunity for each of us to ‘help the helpers’ by supporting the frontline teams who are doing this important work and addressing the most critical community needs.”

Fund contributors include the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, the The John R. Oishei Foundation and the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. Other organizations and individuals who would like to contribute can do so at www.uwbec.org/covidfund.

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