Middletown Community Foundation establishes ‘Coronavirus Emergency Fund’
By Staff Report
The Middletown Community Foundation has established a Coronavirus Emergency Fund (CEF) to provide grants to area nonprofits that help individuals and families adversely affected by the coronavirus.
“The trustees have allocated an initial $50,000 in funding and will be asking community members to donate to the fund with the goal of reaching a minimum of $100,000,” said Traci Barnett, executive director, of the Middletown Community Foundation. Middletown Community Foundation serves the communities of Middletown, Franklin, Monroe, Trenton, Madison Twp. and Lemon Twp.
“I’ve never had to raise money in these kinds of conditions, so I really don’t know what to expect, but I am hopeful that people will step up,” said Barnett.
There are going to be some crucial and immediate needs that are going to arise because of the coronavirus crisis. It’s unprecedented, she said.
The process for area nonprofits to apply for the emergency funding will be streamlined, requiring a one-page grant application, she said, decisions for grant funding will be made on a rolling basis, and the foundation will keep the process nimble and efficient.
“This is all very new, but I did talk to a number of nonprofits this past week to find out what their thoughts are on the needs as a result of the fallout from the coronavirus,” Barnett said.
Some of the immediate concerns include getting meals to students, who would typically receive meals in school, and assisting small businesses, such as restaurants and bars that have had to close.
“So, these were a lot of the things that we identified, which made me feel strongly that the Middletown Community Foundation should step up and create an emergency fund so that nonprofits that are helping to address, or have the availability to address these issues can have some additional funding to do that,” said Barnett.
Contributions to the Coronavirus Emergency Fund (CEF) should be made payable to the Middletown Community Foundation, 300 N. Main Street, Suite 300, Middletown, Ohio 45042. Contributors should write “CEF” in the memo line of the check.
The Middletown Community Foundation is a nonprofit, community corporation created by and for the people of the greater Middletown area. The foundation exists to help donors make a positive impact on the community.
“Our mantra is ‘We Connect People Who Care with Causes that Matter,’ and the Middletown Community Foundation was incorporated as a free-standing community foundation in 1986,” Barnett said.
The Levey family put up a matching grant of $1 million dollars, and they asked the community to step up. They said if you raise $1 million dollars, we will donate $1 million dollars, and the community raised around $5 million dollars. So, that got the foundation started. Since then, the Middletown Community Foundation has grown to around $37.5 million, as of December 31, 2019, she said.
“We currently have 446 separate funds that we manage, and obviously, when we started, we started with one. So, the growth has been steady,” Barnett said.
Middletown Community Foundation funds scholarships, competitive grants as well as donor-advised and donor-designated funds.
The Middletown Community Foundation awarded about $927,000 in scholarships in 2019. The scholarships are awarded to students in one of the school districts that the Middletown Community Foundation serves and the criteria for each scholarship varies, depending on the scholarship. There are around 107 different scholarships available, including the Louie F. Cox Memorial AK Steel Foundation African-American Scholarship and The American Association of University Women Scholarship for Undergraduates, to name a few.
“We often get ‘thank you’ or ‘updated’ letters from students who have received our scholarships when they were seniors in high school, letting us know how grateful they are, or about their progress in college,” Barnett said, “Or if they’ve graduated from college, they let us know about their status in the working world.”
Most of the scholarships are awarded on an annual basis to high school seniors. A few of the scholarships are offered to upperclassmen (sophomores and up.) Also, there are several non-traditional scholarships available for students 25 years or older.
With the competitive grants, nonprofits submit a grant application to the foundation, and a committee decides on the organizations that will receive funding. Competitive grants are awarded quarterly, four times a year. In 2019, $455,000 in competitive grant funding was awarded to local nonprofits.
“The word ‘competitive’ is exactly what it means. It means that we won’t have enough funding to fund all the projects or grants. So, we have to look at each one individually, and how we do that is, one, we review their grant application and then, two, we do interviews with representatives from each organization that applies,” said Barnett.
With an application, and typically a face-to-face interview, the committee then considers each applicant for the particular quarter. Then, they have to make the “tough” decisions on which nonprofits will receive funding and how much.
Specific needs are addressed each quarter from quality education, human needs and capital improvements related to these subject areas to recreation, arts, festivals, community development and capital improvements related to these subject areas. Applications for Fondersmith Fund for Youth and Summertime Grants for Kids are also accepted in the spring. For more details, or to apply, go to www.mcfoundation.org/grants.html.
Past competitive grant recipients in 2019 included The Salvation Army, Sleep in Heavenly Peace and Sorg Opera House, among others.
“We ask for reports within nine months after they receive the grants, so we can see the outcomes that have been accomplished as a result of the grants,” Barnett said.
“It’s a good feeling for me. I feel like every day, I’m able to give something back to the community in my daily job. Not everybody can say that. And, I can also see the benefits from the funding that we are able to provide to the community. It’s a joyful feeling to be able to have a job where you can make a positive difference,” she said.
Slightly over $1 million dollars has also been distributed to nonprofits by request of individual donors.
Additionally, Middletown Community Foundation has supported children and families in the community through the READY! initiative. Monies have been raised specifically for programs that get young people prepared for school, and ready to learn. Around $2.7 million dollars has been raised, and about $1.3 million has already gone back out into the community. The READY! initiative funds early childhood education efforts in the community by funding home visits, summer bridge programs, educational playgroups, food programs and much more.
For more information about the Middletown Community Foundation, or to donate, visit www.mcfoundation.org/ or call (513) 424-7369.