CLEVELAND — Food banks.

Homeless shelters.

Health clinics.

Local nonprofits like these are being stretched thin by the demands of helping residents affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

How to help? WKYC studios and The Cleveland Foundation have created a new video encouraging viewers to donate to the Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund, established by local foundations to help agencies on the front lines of providing pandemic relief.

Donations to the fund are up to $5.37 million since it was established March 18 – but even more dollars are needed to help nonprofits in Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties that are scrambling to strengthen the community safety net by providing food, health care, housing and other necessities.

“It’s an unprecedented crisis, and all dollars matter,” said Dale Anglin, Cleveland Foundation’s program director for youth and social services.

Contributions can be made online by clicking here. Donations are tax-deductible and will go directly to local nonprofits.

At least 75 nonprofits so far have inquired about receiving aid from the fund.

All money collected will go toward addressing the immediate needs of Northeast Ohio populations made vulnerable by the coronavirus outbreak, such as older adults, health care workers, low-income residents, homeless persons and people with limited English proficiency.

The Rapid Response Fund is designed to aid organizations that are deploying resources quickly to meet community needs. Grants will go not only to large nonprofits like the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, which this week organized a drive-through food distribution to serve 4,000 people, but also to small community- and faith-based organizations that residents are turning to for basic needs, Anglin said.

Founding philanthropic partners for the fund include The Cleveland Foundation, The George Gund Foundation, Cleveland Indians Charities and The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland.

To date, contributions have been received from 27 foundations, plus a growing number of corporate donations have been received by Lincoln Electric, Bank of America, RPM International and others.

WKYC Studios is one of the newest companies to become a corporate donor.

Marcia Egbert, The Gund Foundation’s senior program officer for human services, said the fund’s philanthropic partners will convene by phone regularly to address a complex set of questions posed by the pandemic, such as: How to keep seniors safe, with adult day centers closed? What local buildings can be repurposed to relieve the crowding at homeless shelters? How to meet the daycare needs of first responders?

Foundation leaders will pool their collective experience to discuss the mounting challenges, and strive to complement the work of local public health officials.

Front line nonprofits that have pressing needs related to the coronavirus crisis should email covid19response@clevefdn.org to receive more information about the funding process.

Grants from the Rapid Response Fund will go only to tax-exempt organizations such as nonprofits, schools and faith-based organizations. The fund will not allocate grants to individuals. Any person needing help during the pandemic should dial 2-1-1 and speak to an operator at United Way’s First Call for Help line.

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