$2 million in COVID relief grants now open for nonprofits

Focus on organizations led by and serving communities of color seeks to address disproportionate pandemic impact

OLYMPIA, WA – The COVID-19 pandemic has taken an unprecedented toll on nonprofit organizations, with many experiencing increased demand for services and programs while at the same time dealing with disruption of services and programs, cancellation of contracts, funding losses due to canceled fundraisers, reduced donations and other issues affecting staff and volunteer capacity. The impacts are particularly hard on nonprofits led by and serving Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities.

Recent reporting shows historical inequities in funding for BIPOC organizations could deepen as they try to navigate their COVID response and recovery. This is at the same time recent data show communities of color in Washington state are experiencing disproportionately higher percentages of COVID cases and unemployment. Several groups have case and hospitalization rates from seven to 10 times higher than for white people, and death rates twice to over three times higher. Additionally, analysis by region indicates this is true across rural, urban and suburban communities of color.

The Washington State Department of Commerce is partnering with Philanthropy Northwest to provide $2 million of relief funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act with a focus on community-based nonprofits and Tribal organizations most impacted by COVID-19.

How to apply

Grant applications are due by Nov. 6, 2020. Find all information and application materials here.

Technical or translation assistance for this grant can be provided by contacting community.outreach@commerce.wa.gov. Commerce’s outreach team will help connect you to someone with assistance.

Two online information sessions will be held in English via Zoom this week:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 27, 10 – 11 a.m. PDT
  • Thursday, Oct. 29, 7 – 8 p.m. PDT

The Zoom conference line is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89880601482.

Zoom meeting ID is: 898 8060 1482.

Via phone at 1-253-215-8782.

“We know the impacts of COVID-19 are disproportionately experienced by organizations led by and serving Black, Indigenous, Asian – especially Southeast Asian – Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, Latinx and undocumented communities,” said Commerce Director Lisa Brown. “These impacts are exacerbating existing gaps and disparities of families’ health and well-being. The people and organizations the community relies on need this support to work through the coming months and prepare for a more equitable recovery in the future.”

“Philanthropy Northwest is excited to partner with the Department of Commerce to support this important effort,” says Kiran Ahuja, CEO of Philanthropy Northwest. “As we strengthen our collective commitment to equity, flexible relief payments akin to general operating support are critical to rebuild and sustain communities of color around the state.”

Working with strategic partners and through experience working with local organizations, Philanthropy NW developed application criteria and will award grants between $25,000 and $50,000, based on the organization’s need. Priority consideration will be given to programs that serve economically vulnerable areas especially in rural, remote and Tribal communities and whose leaders are reflective of the populations they serve. Small organizations and those serving unincorporated areas are encouraged to apply.

Gov. Jay Inslee directed state CARES Act funds to the Department of Commerce to help with COVID-19 relief efforts across Washington. The agency has distributed more than $700 million in CARES funding in support of local governments, tribes, nonprofits, housing relief and business recovery. These new grants are part of a larger effort to support struggling nonprofits. Commerce is providing a total of $7 million in nonprofit support and working with community partners to distribute remaining strategic capacity funds.


Penny Thomas, Commerce Communications, 206-256-6106

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