COVID-19 Community Response Fund Grants $1 Million to Provide Financial Assistance to Families in Need

Press Release from The San Diego Foundation

January 28, 2020 – San Diego, CA – The San Diego Foundation today announced the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund has granted $1 million to six nonprofit organizations, spread throughout San Diego County, that are providing much-needed financial assistance to San Diegans impacted by the pandemic.

The grants were announced on January 28 at a virtual press conference hosted by The San Diego Foundation in partnership with the Interfaith Community Services, International Rescue Committee, SAY San Diego, South Bay Community Services, MAAC and City Heights CDC.

When the recent jump in coronavirus cases occurred, The San Diego Foundation and Leadership Council for the COVID-19 Community Response Fund quickly recognized that the subsequent stay-at-home order and business closures would have a trickle-down effect on workers and families. Many families who went back to work in some capacity in the fall, found themselves without work when the surge in cases necessitated further health and safety measures. As a result, the number of San Diegans in need has risen, per the latest state Employment Development Department data which indicates that unemployment increased to 8 percent in San Diego County in December.

The six nonprofit grantees were selected because of their deep roots in the community and long-term impact in specific regions throughout San Diego County. Each of the regions represented in the grantmaking has more than 100,000 residents living below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The organizations and regions being served include:

  • Central – City Heights CDC – $220,000
  • South County – South Bay Community Services – $180,000      
  • East County – International Rescue Committee – $150,000
  • North County Coastal – MAAC – $150,000
  • North County Central – SAY San Diego – $140,000
  • North County Inland – Interfaith Community Services – $160,000

To make the most impact in the shortest amount of time, the six nonprofits will distribute funding through their own networks into the hands of the clients and communities they serve. Visit each organization’s website to learn more about their COVID-19 relief efforts and view any funding opportunities related to this grant.

To date, the COVID-19 Community Response Fund has granted more than $56 million through over 244 grants to 200 nonprofit partners. These nonprofits provided computers, internet access, childcare, food security, financial assistance, medical support, workforce training and other vital needs to our region’s most vulnerable communities. Grantmaking is made possible thanks to more than $64 million that has been raised for the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund through 3,500 individuals, businesses, foundations, government partnerships and donor-advised funds.

Businesses, individuals and organizations can donate and find additional information about the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund at

The San Diego Foundation is part of a national movement of more than 600 community foundations that have mobilized more than $1 billion to aid in the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis through response funds. Individual donations are bolstered by San Diego corporations and numerous donor-advised funds at The San Diego Foundation.

Quotes from the January 28 press conference:

“The pandemic has hit every corner of San Diego County hard, especially in communities where San Diegans were living paycheck-to-paycheck or below the poverty line even before COVID-19,” shared Pamela Gray Payton, Vice President, Chief Impact and Partnerships Officer at The San Diego Foundation. “Thanks to our longstanding partnership with these six trusted organizations, this grant funding will quickly help thousands of individuals and families struggling financially during the winter months across San Diego County.”

“Many of the families we serve have already navigated significant trauma or hardship in their pasts, and the outbreak only further complicated their lives,” noted Donna Duvin, Executive Director of International Rescue Committee. “This funding will enable us to get their basic needs met and help these San Diegans work toward long-term self sufficiency.”

“When COVID-19 hit, we saw a nearly 500 percent increase in families and individuals requesting support with food and basic needs assistance,” shared Greg Angela, CEO of Interfaith Community Services. “We have been working hard to provide essential services to families, as well as deep-dive case management support so that San Diegans have the tools they need to take control of their financial independence during the pandemic.”

“COVID-19 has taken a significant toll on children and families across the region,” expressed Nancy Gannon Hornberger, SAY San Diego. “This support will help prevent child hunger and homeless, increase family stability, and do so much more for San Diegans struggling amid the pandemic.”

“COVID-19 has further amplified the disparities that exist within our region,” shared Mauricio Torre, Vice President of Programs and Operations at South Bay Community Services. “These philanthropic dollars complement existing government support and will allow for enhanced flexibility and decreased barriers to get services to local families in need.”

“Housing is a human right and we are committed to protecting and preserving the value of ‘home’ for everyone in our region,” said Laura Ann Fernea, Executive Director of City Heights CDC. “Thanks to increased funding, we will be able to help keep hundreds of families in their homes and keep more people off the streets during this pandemic and beyond.”

“In our day-to-day conversations with families in the community, we have seen a growing need from people struggling with domestic violence, food security and rental assistance,” explained Arnulfo Manriquez, President & CEO at MAAC. “This grant funding will allow us to reach deeper into the community and provide support to individuals hardest hit by this crisis.”

About the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund

The San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund at The San Diego Foundation was created in partnership with San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, San Diego Gas & Electric, United Way of San Diego County, San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council, NEWS 8 and Alliance Healthcare Foundation to receive donations and make rolling rapid response grants to nonprofit organizations supporting impacted communities, particularly those that are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic and its economic consequences. Thousands of individuals, businesses and foundations have contributed to the Fund, and 100 percent of donations are provided to nonprofits. Learn more at

About The San Diego Foundation

The San Diego Foundation inspires enduring philanthropy and enables community solutions to improve quality of life in our region. For more than 45 years, The Foundation and our donors have granted more than $1.3 billion to support nonprofit organizations and strengthen our San Diego community. Learn more at and consider a donation to the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund, helping nonprofits and San Diegans affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The Foundation also provides helpful COVID-19 resources to support nonprofit organizations through this public health and economic crisis.


Justin Nunez, The San Diego Foundation, 336-254-7056,