She lost her job, exhausted her meager savings and then couldn’t afford to pay the rent on her modest, 1-bedroom La Mesa cottage. About the time Isela was starting to lose hope, the Alpha Project, with the help of a $100,000 grant from the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund at The San Diego Foundation, stepped in and paid the $1,300-per-month rent for her.

“If it wasn’t for the Alpha Project, I’d most likely be sleeping in my car right now,” said the 27-year-old single mother of two.

The Alpha Project is just one of more than two dozen nonprofits in the region able to expand their services to meet the needs of a growing number of San Diego County residents reeling from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic thanks to The San Diego Foundation. Seeded with $1.25 million from The San Diego Foundation and $1 million from San Diego Gas & Electric, the Fund has collected more than $14 million from more than 3,000 individuals, companies, foundations, and donor-advised funds, allowing it to distribute more than $11 million in grants to date.

The giving underscores how U.S. community foundations are moving decisively to help those in need during the COVID-19 crisis. In fact, according to a recent survey by the Community Foundation Public Awareness Initiative, donor-advised funds at 64 U.S. community foundations granted $821.9 million to nonprofits in March and April, an increase of $302.5 million compared to the same period a year ago.

The San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund grant to the Alpha Project is helping the nonprofit provide emergency assistance, rapid rehousing, and supportive rehousing to hundreds of clients served by the nonprofit.

In addition, funds are paying for critical items such as pallets of bottled water for the homeless sheltered at the San Diego Convention Center, blankets and packaged meals for “urban campers” throughout the county, and laptops for children so they can keep up with their online classes.

“One-hundred thousand dollars goes a long way with us and we are thankful to the support from The San Diego Foundation,” said Alpha Project President and CEO Bob McElroy.

Founded in 1986 as an arm offering work opportunities for homeless men, the Alpha Project today operates numerous programs serving more than 4,000 men, women, and children daily.

Rashaad is one of them.

Married with six children, Rashaad had nothing when he moved back to San Diego nearly a year ago. He soon turned to the Alpha Project’s Rapid Rehousing program, which placed his family in a rent-subsidized home. Financial literacy classes have resulted in the family being able to better manage and save money. And both Rashaad and his wife are now working full-time.

“It’s pretty amazing,” he said. “They found a job for my wife, they found a job for me. We’re living in a four-bedroom house, it’s just incredible what they have been able to do.”

Isela also knows the feeling. Formerly homeless and mother of two, Isela found her La Mesa rental through the Alpha Project’s Rapid Rehousing program and landed a job more than three years ago assisting people with disabilities through a local organization. However, like many San Diegans, once the coronavirus hit, was furloughed at her job and has been getting by with what little she has. 

Fortunately, Alpha Project has been able to provide critical support through the crisis with rental assistance and case management while she waits to return to work.

“Everything has gone downhill,” she said. “But the Alpha Project has been there for me.”

Together, Alpha Project is helping families like Rashaad’s and Isela’s remain safe and healthy during these unprecedented times.

Help prevent San Diego families from going homeless by donating today.