COVID Response Fund Reaches $1 Million In Grants To Local Nonprofits, $1.5 Million In Donations

Posted on Jul 30, 2020, by Amy Spreeman

Fox Cities is among the latest local nonprofits to receive a grant from the COVID-19 Community Response Fund, established by the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region and United Way Fox Cities.

In an incredible show of charity and selflessness during a time of challenges, hundreds of generous individuals, businesses and foundations have donated more than $1.5 million to the COVID-19 Community Response Fund.

In addition, the fund, established by the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region and United Way Fox Cities, has awarded more than $1 million in grants to 82 local nonprofit organizations. To date, grants have focused on providing basic needs services to people disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis in Outagamie, Calumet, Shawano, Waupaca and the Neenah-Menasha area of Winnebago counties.

“Here we are, just over four months after the fund launched, and we’re moved by the astonishing generosity during this COVID-19 pandemic,” said Curt Detjen, President and CEO of the Community Foundation. “To say we are grateful on behalf of the nonprofits across the Fox Valley Region doesn’t even begin to express how we feel. Truly remarkable.”

“We want to extend our sincere gratitude to the community for stepping up during this crisis and supporting the critical work of our nonprofits through the COVID-19 Community Response Fund,” said Peter C. Kelly, President and CEO at United Way. “Many nonprofits are being forced to make very difficult decisions—reducing hours, reducing staff, or even closing at a time people need their services most. To date, the incredible generosity to the fund has made it possible to sustain services that provide our neighbors, friends, and family with essentials like safe shelter, nutritious food, quality child care, and life-enhancing mental health supports. It is truly heartwarming to see the outpouring of support.”

Eight more nonprofits receive grants

In the last month, eight nonprofits were awarded $170,000 in grants to assist their efforts as they respond to the public health and financial emergency. Grants will continue to be awarded on an ongoing basis and listed at


Casa Hispana – This Appleton-based organization serving as a catalyst for change within the Latino community in the Fox Cities will use a $5,000 grant to provide and deliver food boxes each week to families in need, some of whom do not qualify for other food related assistance.


LEAVEN – A $10,000 grant will help to address high demand in the Fox Cities area for emotional CPR (eCPR) training, a public health education program that teaches people how to support another person experiencing emotional crisis. The grant also supports expansion of the local eCPR Warmline and the addition of three certified practitioners.

Apricity – The Neenah-based organization helps people, primarily from Outagamie and Winnebago counties, who have been impacted by substance use disorders by providing treatment, employment and support services in a safe, progressive recovery community. A $50,000 grant supports its residential treatment recovery support services and additional food expenses in its transitional residential treatment houses during the COVID-19 crisis.

Catalpa – A $25,000 grant will help this provider of mental health services for children and youth in the greater Fox Cities and Waupaca areas to make COVID-19 safety improvements that will allow them to resume psychological testing with patients under age 12, enable its team members to become certified in tele-mental health, and provide technology to improve and continue delivering telemedicine.

N.E.W. Mental Health Connection – This organization leads the collaboration of community stakeholders to create and continuously improve an exceptional mental health system of care for people in Outagamie, Winnebago and Calumet counties. The 80 members of the connection annually invest in its work, but the COVID-19 crisis has created financial hardships for its nonprofit members. A $45,000 grant will cover the membership costs that support the ongoing work of the connection, which is focused on critical needs and community projects addressing the mental health, substance use and suicide impacts of the pandemic.

Vulnerable Populations

Exceptional Equestrians  – The DePere-based organization will use a $5,000 grant to support its equine-assisted therapy programs for physically, emotionally and cognitively challenged children, teens and adults living in Outagamie, Calumet, Shawano, Waupaca counties and the Neenah and Menasha area of Winnebago counties.

Forward Services Corporation – This provider of employment and training services for low-income adults and youth starting their careers will use a $10,000 grant to purchase laptops, technology equipment and high-speed Internet access tools to lend to participants in its Wisconsin Works and FoodShare Employment and Training job training programs in Calumet, Outagamie, Shawano, Waupaca and the Neenah and Menasha areas of Winnebago counties.

Safe Shelter

American Red Cross in Northeast Wisconsin – A $20,000 grant is helping the organization assist 52 people who were displaced after an apartment fire in Menasha June 20. Due to COVID-19 social distancing and safety requirements, the chapter’s usual temporary shelter options are not adequate, so people are being safely lodged at two hotels and are receiving meals and assistance with basic needs.

Fund Shifts into Phase 2 of its Granting Approach

During Phase 2 of the fund’s granting approach, priority will continue be given to community-based organizations providing basic needs services to marginalized and vulnerable groups of people who are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis. This includes providing short-term support to these organizations as they reopen facilities and restart or reinvent their services.

“Nonprofit organizations providing basic needs services are doing a remarkable job of pivoting to continue offering critically needed support to individuals and families during this ever-changing, uncertain time. This includes moving programs online, adjusting in-person settings and service delivery to meet safe distancing requirements, enhancing cleaning efforts and providing personal protection equipment for staff and volunteers,” said Tammy Geenen, Vice President of Community Engagement with the Community Foundation. “The cost of these unexpected changes are straining organizations’ budgets at the same time a variety of factors have resulted in lost revenue. All types of nonprofits, not only those focused on basic needs, are facing similar financially challenging situations and will need support from the community more than ever in the months and perhaps years to come.”

The crisis has been particularly difficult for people in the Fox Valley region who are part of vulnerable and marginalized groups. “Although we are all feeling the effects of the current situation, those who were struggling to make ends meet and living paycheck-to-paycheck before the pandemic, are now likely suffering the most acute effects of COVID-19,” said Tony Gonzalez, Vice President Community Development at the United Way. “One lost paycheck, emergency or unexpected expense can throw these families’ budgets into chaos. Circumstances have not been in their favor for weathering this situation well; they often do not have savings, adequate health insurance, back-up child care or the option to work remotely. For instance, we know from data in the Fox Cities LIFE Study that single mothers pre-pandemic were ten times more likely to be in poverty compared to married couples with children. Imagine now, a single mother trying to care for her family as she experiences job insecurity or job loss, and as schools and child care centers close. We’re targeting dollars from the COVID-19 Community Response Fund to make sure vulnerable and marginalized groups, like single mothers, are receiving the services they need to make it through the hardships disproportionately affecting nearly every aspect of their families’ well-being.”

Vulnerable populations include, but are not limited to: older adults, children, people with disabilities, people who are ill or immunocompromised, homeless individuals, domestic violence survivors, people of low income—particularly single mothers and their children, people who are unemployed or underemployed, health care workers on the front lines of COVID-19 response, and people who are home-bound.

Marginalized populations include, but are not limited to, people of color, indigenous people, people who identify as LGBTQ+, immigrants, refugees, and migrants.

In order to move resources quickly and not further burden nonprofit organizations, there is not a formal application process. Eligible nonprofits can email United Way to share their needs so they can be considered for grants.

As the crisis and its impacts continue, the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region and United Way Fox Cities will continue to assess and consider evolving the granting approach as needed. To learn more about the fund, please visit:

Donors Step Up for the COVID-19 Community Response Fund:

Since the Community Foundation and United Way established the fund March 17 with $50,000 each, 359 individuals, businesses and foundations have stepped up generously to contribute more than $1,532,130. A list of donors is available at

The needs of local nonprofit organizations are and will continue to be significant during the public health and economic crisis and beyond. Ongoing donations to the fund, as well as direct donations to nonprofit organizations from individuals and businesses with a passion for specific organizations and causes, continue to be critically needed.

How to donate to the COVID-19 Community Response Fund:

The Community Foundation is waiving all credit card and administrative fees for this fund. Every dollar donated into the fund will be put into action in the community.

  •  To donate online, please click here.
  •  Checks can be made payable to the Community Foundation/COVID-19 and mailed to Community Foundation, 4455 W. Lawrence St., Appleton, WI 54914.

We invite you to donate now to the COVID-19 Community Response Fund. You can also learn about who has given to the fund, the fund’s grant recipients, and check out our latest news and updates.