HANCOCK COUNTY — Jeannie Roberts felt a bit like a fairy godmother.
As community relations manager in Hancock County for United Way of Central Indiana, she was recently tasked with notifying 10 Hancock County nonprofits that they were awarded grants to assist their operations during trying times brought on by the pandemic.
Money has been especially tight for nonprofits due to COVID-19, just as it has for the rest of the country, and expenses have skyrocketed as organizations have gone into overdrive assisting those who need help now more than ever.
To help out, Lilly Endowment established a $3.5 million fund to make grants to human service organizations in the five counties surrounding Marion County. The Endowment tapped United Way of Central Indiana to pinpoint the organizations most in need of financial help.
On May 13, 10 Hancock County nonprofits received grants totaling more than $230,000.
The grants were awarded as unrestricted funds, which means recipients can use them immediately any way they see fit.
The funding is especially crucial during a time when organizations are helping people more than ever due to the pandemic, which has also forced many nonprofits to cancel major fundraisers this year.
“We are immensely grateful for the opportunity to receive funding that furthers our mission,” said Andrea Mallory, executive director at Hancock Hope House.
The Greenfield homeless shelter took a hard financial hit this year when COVID-19 forced it to close its thrift store for a time and cancel its popular Hops 4 Hope fundraiser, scheduled for August.
“The funding… definitely helped support those living under our roof, but unfortunately does not make up the whole loss we will see from closing the store or canceling Hops 4 Hope,” Mallory said.
The Lilly grants have been essential in helping community-service organizations like hers survive in a trying time.
Hancock County Senior Services is using the $18,500 grant it received to purchase personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies to make its transit service safe for both drivers and passengers, as well as those who provide and receive in-home assistance.
“Some of it is going to things we needed to restart our programs, like masks, sanitizer, gloves, things like that,” said Bob Long, executive director of Senior Services.
“We wrote the grant for things we needed to help us reopen and sustain us for a while, because we don’t know how long the pandemic will last or these precautions are going to be necessary,” he said. “We wanted to get a head start on our sanitizing process, so the grant was very, very helpful. It couldn’t have come along at a better time for us, so it was very much appreciated.”
United Way leaders assembled a work group in each of the five counties comprised of staff, civic leaders and volunteers.
“After analyzing the unique and rapidly changing needs in each county, the work groups invited more than 100 organizations in total to apply for the competitive grants. As a result, 50 community organizations providing basic needs services — food, housing, health care, transportation, child care — were selected for funding” within the five counties, said Roberts.
Lilly Endowment’s $3.5 million fund is part of a larger network of funds known as the COVID-19 Central Indiana Community Economic Relief Fund — or C-CERF — which was established in mid-March by a collaboration of partners who wanted to help local nonprofits continue to serve the community as COVID-19 gripped the nation.
Just as the encroaching pandemic seemed to shut down the world almost overnight, the C-CERF grants were put together just as quickly, said Roberts.
“This happened in a very quick turnaround time, because the desire was to get the funds to the organizations as quickly as possible, knowing that they needed it to do their work,” she said.
A number of funders came together to create the initial $15 million C-CERF fund, including: Lilly Endowment, Inc.; Central Indiana Community Foundation (through Glick Fund and Indianapolis Foundation); Eli Lilly and Company Foundation; Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust; Richard Fairbanks Foundation; and United Way of Central Indiana.
The fund continues to grow even as grants are disbursed, and is now over $23.7 million.
In addition to the Lilly Endowment funds distributed locally, two Hancock County agencies received funding in the first two C-CERF grant cycles. Hancock County Meals on Wheels received $20,000, while the Hancock County Food Pantry received $15,000.
The food pantry received an additional $15,000 grant in the third grant cycle, when the local funds were disbursed, “because their need was so great,” Roberts said.
Funding partners are hoping to continue growing the COVID-inspired C-CERF fund, “because we know support is going to be needed beyond these first few months,” said Roberts.
“Things like mental health support, food resources, rent and mortgage and utility assistance — all these things are going to continue after the first initial month of COVID-19, and people are trying to be prepared for what that might look like. We know there is more to come, so we’re hoping to continue the C-CERF funds to help meet needs in the future as well,” she said.
The Hancock County Community Foundation also has established a fund to help nonprofits weather the pandemic. It is called the Heart for Hancock community relief fund. Since late March, it has provided a total of $34,200 in grants to 11 local agencies, including the food pantry, the Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen, The Landing Place and Agape Therapeutic Riding Resources.
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In mid-March, a collaboration of partners established the COVID-19 Central Indiana Community Economic Relief Fund — or C-CERF — was established to help local nonprofits serve the community amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of the fund, Lilly Endowment designated $3.5 million to be awarded within the five counties surrounding Marion County.
On May 13, 10 Hancock County nonprofits received grants totaling more than $230,000, including:
Talitha Koum Women’s Recovery House — $10,000
FUSE, Inc. — $21,000
Hancock County Food Pantry — $15,000
Hancock County Senior Services, Inc. — $18,500
Hancock County Women’s Resource Center, Inc. — $17,500
Hancock Regional Hospital/Healthy365 — $65,000
Hancock Hope House — $10,000
Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen — $27,500
Love INC of Greater Hancock County — $15,500
Meals on Wheels of Hancock County — $30,000
A number of partners came together to create the initial $15 million C-CERF fund, including:
–Lilly Endowment, Inc.
–Central Indiana Community Foundation (through Glick Fund and Indianapolis Foundation)
–Eli Lilly & Company Foundation
–Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust
–Rich Fairbanks Foundation
–United Way of Central Indiana