Funds will support human service needs during economic distress associated with the virus A coalition of community funders, led by United Way of Central Indiana, announced a $16.5 million Central Indiana COVID-19 Community Economic Relief Fund to support human services organizations and the individuals and families they serve who are affected directly and indirectly by COVID-19 coronavirus. The Central Indiana COVID-19 Community Economic Relief Fund will be launched with a $15 million donation from Lilly Endowment Inc., and $500,000 contributions from each of the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, Eli Lilly and Company Foundation and United Way of Central Indiana. Central Indiana Community Foundation and Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust will also participate. United Way will seek donations from other organizations and individuals in the weeks ahead. Grants will be distributed to human service organizations in Boone, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Marion and Morgan counties best positioned to meet the emerging needs resulting from this crisis. The launch of this fund builds on the experience of the Community Economic Relief Fund established by funders following the Great Recession in 2008. That fund provided similar support for organizations and individuals during the economic recovery. “This coronavirus is not just a health crisis. It is also an economic one – the depth and magnitude of which is uncertain,” said Ann Murtlow, president and CEO, United Way of Central Indiana. “The speed with which the virus has spread and the measures necessary to slow its spread and protect global, national and local health continue to significantly disrupt our way of life. This requires us to act swiftly and strategically, with collective input from our funders and partners as we prepare for the short-term and long-term impact to Hoosiers in Central Indiana. We are so grateful to them and acknowledge that this couldn’t be done without them.” City leaders recognize the potential for economic impact, particularly for workers in jobs in the service and hospitality industries, is high. Organizations that serve populations in need every day will find themselves under-resourced to serve a growing demand for those services. Additionally, the network will be encouraged to work together to find new and innovative ways to provide services that incorporate concepts of social distancing into service practices. The service network will need to think creatively about solutions during this time. “We cannot begin to fathom all of the challenges and implications the coronavirus situation will have on our neighbors and our economy,” said Ronni Kloth, Vice President of Community Development at Lilly Endowment Inc. “We believe there certainly could be a significant impact on families that may suffer a loss of income due to unpaid absence, illness, or job loss related directly or indirectly to the virus, increased child care needs due to school and child care closures, and the potential risk of not being able to pay housing, utility and food bills due to financial strains. These are daunting challenges, but we are fortunate to be part of a community where people come together in common cause to make a positive difference.” United Way and other funders are working with a broad network of direct service organizations to identify critical needs and resource gaps and the best approach to disseminating the emergency funds with the appropriate sense of urgency. Given the evolving nature of this situation, the fund will be designed to be flexible and to get proceeds to organizations serving those in need in the weeks ahead with minimal bureaucracy. “As distressing as this time may be, our community is committed to ensuring that our most vulnerable residents aren’t facing these challenges alone,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett. “In Indianapolis, we are blessed with a philanthropic community that continually demonstrates an incredible commitment to our city’s residents. On behalf of the city of Indianapolis and our entire region, I cannot thank these funders enough for stepping up.” United Way has established an opportunity for individuals to donate via text or online. Text HELP2020 to 91999 or visit COVID19CERF.ORG to make a contribution.