Chicago's Coronavirus Relief Fund Raises $8 Million in One Day

Money raised will go to families and neighborhoods hit hardest financially

A coronavirus relief fund created to help people in the Chicago area is seeing tremendous support in its early days. The Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund is two days old, but has already raised $8 million.

The fund was launched by the United Way of Metro Chicago and the Chicago Community Trust to support the region's health and human service organizations as they see a surge in demand for their resources. The money donated by philanthropies, corporations and individuals will be pooled and given out to non-profit organizations across the region.

The fund's website says donations will specifically provide access to emergency food and basic supplies, rent and mortgage assistance, direct financial assistance and non-profit safety and operations assistance.

“We’ve had donors giving $25, $50 — there’s a spot where you can give $1 million,” Sean Garrett, president and CEO of United Way of Metro Chicago, told the Chicago Tribune on Wednesday. “It’s been great to see people doing whatever they can to help their neighbors in need.”

One-hundred percent of the money raised will go directly to support services and supplies for those in need, minus a small credit-card processing fee.

Chicago is one of many cites that have set up community relief funds. Nearly every part of daily life has been impacted by the virus in the last two weeks.

“We want to make sure we can get resources out to people immediately," Helen Gayle told the Tribune. Gayle is president and CEO of the Chicago Community Trust. "[We] also think about the mid- to long-term impact on families who are missing paychecks or have children out of school without child care; on our homeless population; on the elderly population who can’t get out to get food; on the most vulnerable, who can’t withstand the shock of missing a paycheck.”

A list on non-profit agencies supported by the fund has not been released, but the organizing groups said it would be provided shortly.

The State of Illinois is also listing ways citizens can get assistance during the coronavirus, including loans for small businesses, unemployment insurance, utility relief, increased food access and a Medicaid waiver. It has more details about how people can get help on its Coronavirus response webpage.

The Chicago Blackhawks, through its charitable foundation, matched the first $100,000 donated to the Community COVID-19 Response Fund. Garrett told the Tribune the fund will continue indefinitely, as the needs of the community continues evolve through this socially and economically unstable time.

“We don’t know what the next days, weeks and months ahead will look like,” he said to the Tribune. “Our intention is for the fund to evolve based on the needs in our community. That’s what our work has always been about — bringing the community together to solve problems.”

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