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Rochester nonprofits launch ‘crisis fund’ to distribute money during outbreak

Brett Dahlberg

Two major Monroe County nonprofits have started a “crisis fund” to help other community service organizations stay afloat during the novel coronavirus outbreak. 

The Rochester Area Community Foundation and the local United Way chapter said that smaller organizations have begun to see increased demand and decreased income.

Jennifer Leonard, the president and CEO of the Community Foundation, said the fund’s aim is to get money moving quickly toward immediate needs like food, shelter, clothing and child care.

“We expect that the nonprofits will be able to put this money immediately to use, to keep their doors open and their services flowing,” Leonard said.

The organizations expect to approve grant applications within 48 hours, instead of the months it typically takes for a decision.

Leonard said COVID-19 is stretching the resources of local charities.

“Right now, all organizations and businesses are under pressure, and if you want to go and get help, or enjoy the offerings of the many nonprofits that enrich our community, you will want to know that somebody’s getting their backs,” she said.

The United Way is also working to coordinate people who want to volunteer or donate money or supplies.

“We are a community of doers and helpers,” said Jaime Saunders, the organization’s president and CEO.

Brett was the health reporter and a producer at WXXI News. He has a master’s degree from the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism.