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Lifting Up Our Most Vulnerable: Phase II of COVID-19 Recovery Funding Addresses Some of Central Texas’ Most Essential Issues

Grant recipients support behavioral health and emotional well-being, rural populations and communities of color, among other priorities, as part of our relief and recovery efforts

Published September 28, 2020

The sweeping impacts of coronavirus on our Central Texas community were felt almost immediately, creating an urgent need across our five-county region to ensure the survival of our most vulnerable populations and the organizations that support them. Now amidst the virus’ sustained spread, as we work to stabilize and rebuild, we have uncovered additional needs alongside those initial urgent issues. Those needs are chiefly driven by the isolation experienced by our neighbors and a lack of access to basic necessities and health care services in our rural communities – and, unfortunately, are further compounded by a long-standing undercurrent of injustice and systemic racism. The distress is enormous and requires an innovative, thoughtful, multifaceted, and compassionate approach to recovery and an inevitable better future.

Just as the response to the novel coronavirus has evolved, so too must our response to funding the organizations and communities experiencing the most critical need. Through community feedback, listening and learning from local leadership and synthesizing data from trusted resources, St. David’s Foundation identified four key areas to address as a part of our second phase of COVID-19 Recovery Funding: behavioral health and emotional well-being, basic needs, childcare, and access to health care services. Because these priorities reflect the Foundation’s areas of focus long before COVID-19, we are able to apply existing knowledge and community insights as we support nonprofits to lift up our community today in support of a healthier tomorrow.

Today, we share the recipients of Phase II of our COVID-19 Recovery Fund – a group representing 116 organizations and nearly $6.5 million in grants to address the health and economic impacts of the pandemic, with 59% representing new relationships for the Foundation.

Many of the Phase II grant recipients work with highly vulnerable populations across several of the Fund’s key priority areas. Their applications revealed three important themes:

  • Behavioral health and emotional well-being are by far the largest areas of need within the region. 46% of funding will support individual counseling, peer support, community outreach, parent education, youth development and community healing.
  • The need for holistic approaches that addresses three or more areas of need in one service offering.Stressing the importance of funding that supports mechanisms and resources that demonstrate the interconnectivity of needs across services to more efficiently and effectively provide relief.
  • We must focus on systemic racism as a part of the COVID-19 response and beyond.This means supporting organizations that can help address systemic inequity in Central Texas to advance positive change.

Addressing Health Equity and Systemic Racism

In line with St. David’s Foundation’s commitment to health equity across all our goals and principles, Phase II of the COVID-19 Recovery Fund prioritizes and directly supports populations who have disproportionately shouldered the brunt of the crisis. These populations include people of color; refugees and immigrants; people experiencing homelessness; people living with disabilities; and LGBTQ communities. 82% of grant recipients specifically address the needs of at least one of these marginalized populations. Phase II funding also reflected a significant increase in grants for organizations led by (46%) or supporting (57%) people of color, compared to 36% and 31%, respectively, in Phase I.

During the Recovery Fund proposal review period, the U.S. movement to address systemic racism was magnified by the glaring inequity experienced by the Black community and people of color in the face of COVID-19. This revealed a heightened emphasis and responsibility to address long-standing structural racism. As such, The Austin Black Physicians Association, My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Scholars, Mission Capital, and the African American Youth Harvest Foundation have been awarded grants as an early step in helping dismantle systemic racism in Central Texas. COVID-19 is one of the many factors laying bare the inequitable health outcomes, and it remains our commitment to ensure health equity is at the core of all we do in Central Texas.

Although this is the final phase of funding for the Recovery Fund, we will continue our grantmaking efforts through a COVID-19 lens as our community assesses the long-term impact of the pandemic. We will continue to look for strategic opportunities to support Central Texas nonprofits to strengthen their capacity through innovation, scale their services and improve community outcomes, as well as utilize this moment to recognize the longer-term systemic issues that prevent members of our community from living healthier lives. Recipients of both Phase I and II of this Recovery Fund reflect our commitment to funding this vital work and will continue to support initiatives that advance health equity.

During such a challenging time, it is a humbling task to assess the enormous needs of our community and consider where we can have a meaningful, lasting impact. St. David’s Foundation is deeply grateful for the opportunity to partner with our community collaborators in a unified response against COVID-19 and in the pursuit of a brighter and more equitable tomorrow.