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$9.1 million investment in 2021 resilience efforts

Made possible in large part by the generosity of philanthropist MacKenzie Scott

(Feb. 24, 2021) – As more Mid-Southerners are vaccinated, schools prepare to reopen, and Health Department restrictions lift, this community faces a daunting but hopeful recovery process after the challenging past year. The Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, too, looks to help rebuild—focusing on critical, long-term sustainability for those most affected by the pandemic.

Through the Mid-South COVID-19 Regional Response Fund, in 2021 the Community Foundation will make a series of grant awards, totaling approximately $9.1 million, to build resilience for those hardest-hit by the coronavirus crisis.

The Fund will invest in efforts to sustain small, minority-owned businesses; help homeowners keep their houses; address the profound trauma and mental health effects exacerbated by the consequences of COVID-19; and build support systems for people and families in dire need.

“The past year has been incredibly difficult for nonprofits, businesses, families, and individuals. We’re ready to help the Mid-South rebound.” said Community Foundation president Robert M. Fockler. “We’ve moved from a triage situation to one in which we are building long-term resilience, especially for the segments of our community that have had their stability drastically threatened by the persistent consequences of this devastating crisis.”

As part of that $9.1 million Mid-South COVID-19 Regional Response Fund investment, today the Community Foundation announces a $750,000 grant to River City Capital for small businesses through the community development financial institution’s COVID-19 Relief Grant program. Businesses will be able to apply for $20,000 in grant support—which, unlike loans, do not require repayment. Preference will be given to businesses owned by people of color and to restaurants. Community LIFT will announce the process for obtaining grants soon.

“It has been widely reported that 40 percent of all Black businesses in America have closed due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. At a time when the pandemic has lingered much longer than expected, this effort will target neighborhoods that are often forgotten and the hardest hit,” said Eric Robertson, president of Community LIFT and River City Capital. “River City Capital is honored to partner with the Community Foundation to offer Covid-19 Relief Grants to small businesses that continue to be adversely affected by the pandemic.”

The Fund will also award $4 million in general operating support to nonprofits, with half of those funds earmarked currently for small- to mid-size agencies serving priority populations. Recipients of the first $2 million in funding will be announced in the spring.

The Community Foundation will continue to announce grant awards and programs throughout the next several months.

Support for 2021 grantmaking comes from several local and national funders, most significantly philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, who in December donated $8 million to the Mid-South COVID-19 Regional Response Fund, part of a $4 billion investment in effective nonprofits across the U.S. The Community Foundation was the only Memphis agency and one of just 11 in Tennessee to receive funding from Scott.

In 2020, the Mid-South COVID-19 Regional Response Fund awarded $4.9 million to nonprofits across the community in immediate relief and recovery dollars.

About the Mid-South COVID-19 Regional Response Fund
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The Mid-South COVID-19 Regional Response Fund is the unified community relief effort to support organizations impacted by novel coronavirus and the economic consequences of the pandemic. The Fund is managed by the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, in partnership with City of Memphis, Shelby County Government, United Way of the Mid-South, and Momentum Nonprofit Partners/Mid-South Philanthropy Network. It provides flexible funding to nonprofit organizations serving community members in West Tennessee, Eastern Arkansas, and Northern Mississippi. To learn more about the fund, click here.