A Message from STLCF President & CEO: COVID-19 Response

When crisis strikes, St. Louis pulls together, and the COVID-19 pandemic was no different. Thanks to a community-wide effort to raise funds and the wisdom of many as we worked together to deploy them with maximum impact, our region’s response to this event was nothing short of remarkable. We are grateful.

When the unfathomable pandemic lockdown began last March, all of us at the St. Louis Community Foundation knew it would be a challenge unlike any other. Jobs evaporated overnight. Services, upon which so many of our vulnerable friends and neighbors relied, were suspended. It was clear we needed to act fast and bold action would be required. Two areas of critical community need were identified:

Assist the isolated and vulnerable: The Community Foundation seeded and led an expansive fundraising effort that involved a coalition of corporate funders, foundation partners, businesses, and current and new donors to create and administer the COVID-19 Regional Response Fund (CRRF). Within just 10 days of formation, the effort directed much-needed financial assistance to local nonprofits that served the targeted populations.

Short-term financial support for restaurant, bar and small business employees:
One of our donors approached us with the idea and the initial funding necessary to help this group confronted with sudden job losses. Referred to as the Gateway Resilience Fund, the Foundation along with several local fundraisers provided short-term financial assistance to more than 3,500 individuals in our region.

Attached is a Community Impact Report to our stakeholders, which highlights the community impact and the lives touched by these efforts to date. Throughout this process, each of our partners acted with urgency, cooperation, and creativity. However, our work is not yet done. The advisory council continues to make strategic funding decisions to facilitate ongoing services and recovery operations for regional nonprofits serving these populations.

What We Learned

During great crises, systemic weaknesses often become apparent. This instance was no exception. Although the St. Louis Community Foundation used endowed funds to create the CRRF, an aggressive fundraising effort was necessary because the needs in our community were so great.

We believe there is a better way — and several cities of comparable size are already benefitting from it. Their secret: a well-funded community endowment. In times of turmoil and need, those dollars can be tapped immediately to fund community responses.

In the months ahead, the Community Foundation will release a study concerning endowment levels in St. Louis and how they compare to other comparably-sized cities. Our intention is to begin a community dialogue so that we may better position our region to handle the crises of the future, affect systemic change when needed, or take advantage of regional opportunities. Boosting the size of our community endowment can facilitate both.

Finally, all of us at the St. Louis Community Foundation thank you — not only for your part in our region’s COVID-19 response, but also for your ongoing interest and effort in making St. Louis a vibrant and equitable region.

Together we are stronger!




Amelia A.J. Bond