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$4.2M in new grants to equip national nonprofit response to COVID-19 pandemic

American Cities, Arts & Culture, COVID-19, Detroit, Education, Environment, Health, Human Services, Social Investment Practice

This second round of funding support brings Kresge’s total COVID-related investments to nearly $7M to date


The Kresge Foundation announced today a suite of new grants – totaling $ 4.2 million – to support nonprofits confronting the historic and unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 epidemic.

These new grants and grant amendments build on a $2.6 million collection of place-based grants awarded in April to assist nonprofits located in the foundation’s focus cities of Detroit, New Orleans and Memphis. In total, the Kresge has granted nearly $7 million to strengthen national and local nonprofit and government organizations in the COVID era.

“From supporting artists throughout the country to neighborhood-level public health solutions to ensuring our democracy doesn’t fracture any further to protecting the most vulnerable amongst us, including the undocumented, this collection of grants is emblematic of how we at Kresge hope to support our grant partners in this moment: with creativity, with flexibility, with empathy, with compassion and with an eye toward the long-term,” said Kresge CEO and President Rip Rapson.

“These grants seek to provide immediate assistance to organizations that are essential to the vitality of cities. In addressing the immediacy of this pandemic, we also seek to shore up these essential nonprofits located across the country and to strengthen them for the long-term, so that they will endure when this crisis recedes,” Rapson added.

This suite of new grants, roughly $2 million in total, provides funding to these nonprofits organizations and state government agencies located across the United States:

  • Drexel University, Philadelphia – A $15,000 grant from the Arts & Culture Program to support Drexel University’s Lindy Institute to analyze how Creative Placemaking activities are financed and summarize findings to offer additional insights of COVID-19’s impact on arts communities throughout the country.
  • United States Artists, Inc., Chicago – A $250,000 grant from the Arts & Culture Program to contribute to a national Artist Relief Fund to address the immediate financial distress of individual artists and creative workers caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Washington, D.C. – A $50,000 grant from the Education Program to support exploration of how colleges and universities can respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Work will focus on how institutions can support state health departments, combat misinformation, contribute to testing and research, and rethink research practices to improve community engagement.
  • PolicyLink, Oakland, CA – A $500,000 grant from the Health Program that extends Kresge’s support of the Convergence Partnership, a national multi-funder collaborative that invests in community power and leadership to address structural and institutional barriers impacting the health and well-being of marginalized communities, and that helps this organization navigate its COVID-19 strategic response.
  • Rhode Island Department of Health, Providence, RI – A $25,000 grant from the Health Program to expand the department’s efforts to reach the LatinX, immigrant and refugee populations in Rhode Island who are impacted by coronavirus.
  • The National Domestic Workers Alliance, Inc., New York City – A $300,000 grant from the Human Services Program that offers human services supports to domestic workers, a high proportion of whom are undocumented immigrants and part of mixed-legal status families, and, therefore, unlikely to receive relief or benefits through COVID-19 relief efforts. This grant also supports Alia, a portable benefits platform that, during the COVID-19 crisis, will also provide access to emergency relief funds for domestic workers.
  • Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Los Angles – A $150,000 grant from the Opportunity Fund to support 11 national civil rights organizations (led by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund) as they engage in litigation to protect voting rights leading up to the 2020 election. This funding will enable the coalition to increase its efforts to expand voting access and protect voting rights in a time when some states may force citizens to choose between protecting their health and exercising their right to vote.
  • The Center for Community Change, Washington, D.C. – A $200,000 grant from the Opportunity Fund to strengthen the collective civic capacity of 60 community-based organizations by engaging in foresight training and scenario planning around the social and political ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This collection of grants also supports place-based efforts in Memphis and Detroit including:

  • Whole Child Strategies Inc., Memphis – $200,000 in two new grants from the American Cities Program to support a coalition of place-based organizations providing emergency relief to families living with low incomes in eight Memphis neighborhoods, specifically cash assistance for food and other household necessities; relief funds for households experiencing loss of income due to the pandemic; and internet access and devices for households without broadband or hardware. The support also includes general operating funds for Whole Child Strategies, which is a Kresge Innovative Projects: Memphis grantee partner.
  • Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency, Detroit – (Previosuly announced)  This $125,000 grant from the Detroit, Environment and Human Services Programs provides funds to administer needed emergency plumbing repairs allowing water service to be restored for Detroit residents confronting utility shutoffs.
  • The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Detroit – (Previously announced) A $200,000 grant from the Detroit and Arts & Culture Programs provides funding for the Arts and Creative Community Assistance Fund that provides relief, resiliency and innovation support to arts and culture organizations in Southeast Michigan that are suffering due to COVID-19.
  • Community Reinvestment Fund, Minneapolis – This $150,000 grant, in conjunction with an up to $3 million program-related investment, provides funding to make CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program resources accessible to Detroit nonprofits.

In keeping with an earlier commitment to offer current grantees greater flexibility and resources, Kresge will be also be moving forward with 124 grant amendments – totaling $2.2 million –  to help organizations weather the crisis. Grant amendments range from supplemental grant funds for various grant initiatives such as Detroit Arts SupportFresh, Local and EquitableNext GenerationEmerging Leaders in Public Health, and Climate Change, Health & Equity (CCHE) to community development corporations to justice and democracy-focused organizations.

Among these amendments is additional funds for the Community Connections Bridging the Gap Response Fund to assist small childcare providers serving essential workers during Detroit’s COVID-19 crisis. The Arts & Culture Program has dedicated more than $550,000 to current grantees to retain staff and avoid layoffs, increase resident and emergency food services and offset canceled community events, convenings and performances. The Environment and Health Programs allocated $750,000 to the CCHE grantee cohort, providing an additional $50,000 to each of the 15 grantee partners to extend the planning phase of their work.

For more about Kresge’s response to the COVID pandemic, and the work of the grantees the Foundation supports, please visit our COVID-19 Response page, which features a map of all new grants.