One year ago, the Foundation celebrated our “coming of age” at our 21st annual meeting. We announced Round 5 of our Synergy Initiative with planning grants totaling $762,000 for four projects addressing contamination of private well water, early childhood educator workforce development, foster parent supports, and rural transportation. We also awarded grants totaling $746,000 as our three ongoing Round 4 Synergy Initiative projects, Worcester HEARS, ReImagine North of Main, and Worcester Regional Food Hub (Food Hub), moved toward their final stages of implementation.
Then, suddenly in March 2020, the coronavirus pandemic was declared, immediately impacting our community partners, grantees, and the Foundation in unimaginable ways. With an urgency to respond, but within unknown territory, we developed a three-pronged approach to address the pandemic in our region, which has been achieved. First, in early April, $371,000 in supplemental funding was made to all current grantees after staff gathered information about their special circumstances and needs due to the pandemic. Second, we proceeded in opening the Activation Fund to new applications and, in September, awarded 14 Activation Fund grants totaling nearly $700,000, of which five grants of $235,000 responded directly to the pandemic. Third, the Board proactively awarded a $100,000 Board Designated grant to support a partnership with the City of Worcester and Myers Primary Care Institute to implement a COVID-19 vaccination campaign to address vaccine hesitancy among populations of low income and color so that herd immunity can be achieved in the Greater Worcester area. To date, the Foundation’s targeted commitments in response to the coronavirus total $706,000.
We are pleased to announce that the Activation Fund is open to applications in 2021, and $525,000 has been budgeted for one-year projects that assist nonprofits in developing new ventures and capacities, with the expectation that the incremental enhancement will be sustainable.
While the Synergy Initiative is closed to new applications this year, the Foundation has awarded $1.6 million for the Round 5 pilot projects and $250,000 for the Round 4 Food Hub project.
As we anticipate the taming of COVID 19 and ensuing recovery of our region, we send our best wishes to all for health and happiness in 2021!
Timothy M. Bibaud, JD
Janice B. Yost, EdD
President & CEO