BUFFALO – Nearly 20 local philanthropic organizations are funding the newly formed Western New York COVID-19 Community Response Fund in partnership with the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County, it was announced Tuesday.

The fund will be used to address most-immediate community needs in the eight counties of Western New York, with an initial focus on the areas of health, human services, food, childcare and the needs of front-line responders.

To date, the fund has more than $4 million from these organizations that contributed funding:

— Bank of America Charitable Foundation

— BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York Blue Fund

— Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo

— East Hill Foundation

— Grigg Lewis Foundation

— Health Foundation for Western & Central New York

— James H. Cummings Foundation

— Key Bank and First Niagara Foundation

— M&T Charitable Foundation

— Margaret L. Wendt Foundation

— Patrick P. Lee Foundation

— Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation

— Pinto Family Foundation

— Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation

— The Baird Foundation

— The John R. Oishei Foundation

— The Margaret L. Wendt Foundation

— Western New York Foundation

Immediate funding will complement public sector efforts and granting decisions to 501(c)3 organizations will be focused on basic needs, according to fund spokesperson Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker, president/CEO of Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. Local foundations have been assessing immediate community needs and will invite a selection of organizations who are addressing these needs to apply for funding.

Grants will be reviewed by foundation representatives with the assistance of an advisory committee that is composed of: Tara Ellis, FeedMore WNY; Brenda McDuffie, Buffalo Urban League; Michael Martin, Native American Community Services of Erie and Niagara Counties, Inc.; Lucy Candelario, The Belle Center; and Dr. LaVonne Ansari, Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc.

The Western New York philanthropic community, convened by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, Health Foundation for Western & Central New York and The John R. Oishei Foundation, welcomes individuals and organizations who would like to contribute to this community-wide effort to visit www.uwbec.org/covidfund and give through the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County.

“This unparalleled coordinated community effort to mobilize immediate help to organizations responding on the frontlines of the COVID-19 community crisis has proven our resolve to create solutions together. Please join our collective effort, as you are able during this time of great need, all contributions are welcomed,” said Dedecker.

For information about services available in the community, call 211 or 888-696-9211.

211 WNY is an information referral hotline that services all eight counties in Western New York. Agencies and programs are encouraged to call or email with updates on how COVID-19 is affecting their ability to provide services to the community. 

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