Long Beach Community Foundation (copy)

Leaders of the Long Beach Community Foundation and recent grant recipients celebrate at a special check presentation last September in downtown Long Beach.

A relief fund activated less than two weeks ago in Long Beach gave out its first $100,000 in grants this Friday, March 27, to help people impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Called the Coronavirus Relief Fund, the assistance is a partnership between the city government and the Long Beach Community Foundation. It is a form of the Emergency Relief Fund established in December 2018, Community Foundation president and CEO Marcelle Epley said Friday.

"We activated it on Monday, March 15," Epley said. "According to the MOU, the foundation CEO and the city manager reviews grant applications. The city manager has designated us to do the reviews to expedite the grants and get the help out there."

The emergency relief fund languished with an initial deposit of $2,500 for more than a year. The coronavirus pandemic jumpstarted donations, with the fund balance sitting at $420,000 before the first grants Friday.

Grants are limited to $20,000. The first recipients, all receiving $20,000, are Urban Community Outreach, Food Finders, Harbor Interfaith Services, Centro Cha and Long Beach Community Table. All of the grantees say they plan to spend the money on food and hygiene products, with some expanding support to other areas. Urban Community Outreach, for example, said it may offer rent assistance where appropriate.

Centro Cha said in its application efforts will focus on the First, Sixth and Seventh City Council districts, with help for the unemployed working families and small business owners. Food Finders focuses on the food insecure, and Harbor Interfaith Services plan additional help for the homeless (as does Urban Community Outreach).

Epley said that she and her team review grant applications every Wednesday in order to get the money to agencies before the following weekend. The demand is ramping up — there were 11 applications pending March 26, she said, and there are 19 today, Friday.

Community Foundation board member Frank Newell sent an email earlier this week talking about the relief fund.

"I can assure you that the LBCF has the pulse of the local community and will have a grants process in place to review applications from local organizations to focus on critical needs and identify recipients with the goal of doing the most good in our community with available resources," he said.

Epley said most of the early donations to the fund came from people who already had accounts with the foundation, primarily donor-directed funds. Other foundations have stepped up as well — the RuMBA Foundation, Hoag Foundation, and the Century Club were among the first donors.

There are multiple ways to donate to the relief fund, including PayPal, text (Support LB to 501-55), checks to 400 Oceangate, Suite 800, Long Beach, CA 90802, credit card donations and wire transfers. For help and specific directions, go to longbeachcf.org or email info@longbeachcf.org.

A grant application also is available on the website or by emailing the foundation. Nonprofits, schools and government entities are eligible. 

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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