CHCF Gives $50K in COVID Grants

Little Lights volunteers distribute masks and lunch to residents. Courtesy: Little Lights

The Capitol Hill Community Foundation announced last month that it approved $50,000 in emergency grants to four local organizations which are helping to mitigate the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic on the community. The Foundation has stepped in as a conduit for community support before when Capitol Hill institutions have faced extraordinary challenges such as the fires that destroyed Eastern Market, Frager’s Hardware, and the Capper Senior Residence.

Nonprofit Everyone Home DC, which works with District residents to find housing solutions will receive a $15,000 grant for their services to homeless individuals in the community. Little Lights Urban Ministry, which empowers under-served youth and families, received $15,000 for their programs, particularly those for children at Potomac Gardens and Hopkins Housing.

“We are so thankful to be recipients of the Capitol Hill Community Foundation grants in response to the COVID-19 crisis,” said Little Lights Executive Director Steve Park. The organization has been working with residents of the complexes for more than a decade, providing tutoring services, meals and youth programming.

Park said the urban ministry will use the funds to hire residents of the two housing complexes to assist in distribution of resources such as groceries, diapers and donated masks. They will also use funds to provide computer equipment and high speed internet in homes of those students who do not have access to in-home high speed wifi, facilitating their academic programming via video conferencing.

Two awards of $10,000 were also granted. The first, to nonprofit Serve Your City DC, helps them expand their work creating opportunities for at-risk D.C. students to help in the distribution of food and supplies for Ward 6 residents needing assistance through the Ward 6 Mutual Aid Network.

Funding Particularly Welcome
Maurice Cook, Director of Serve Your City DC, said that the funds will be divided into thirds. One-third will go towards providing food, essential supplies and PPE to underserved residents. Another third will provide devices and internet access to students in order to facilitate online learning. The final portion will go to a public health campaign among underserved communities, spreading information about COVID-19 and the challenges these communities are expected to face in the future.

The funding is particularly welcome, Cook said, because although city agencies and officials are referring residents to the Ward 6 Mutual Aid hotline, the city has not provided any financial support. Similarly, Park said Little Lights had been ineligible for the city’s Microgrant Program, which has provided funds to businesses and nonprofits, because of their status as a religious organization.

Local Chamber of Commerce the Capitol Hill Association of Merchants and Professionals (CHAMPS) received funding to help maintain infrastructure for advocacy and communications throughout our local business community. CHCF President Nicky Cymrot said that CHCF was particularly concerned about the potential damage to local restaurants and small retailers and the grant would help CHAMPS keep businesses up-to-date on resources available to them.

“This is a situation where every member of the community is affected, but we want to do what we can to support those who are working to assist our most vulnerable citizens,” said Cymrot.

The Foundation also announced that it has doubled the size of its grants to community nonprofits this spring, recognizing that many are being asked to do more in this pandemic situation, and that some have had to cancel fundraising events.

The Capitol Hill Community Foundation has made over $9 million in grants to schools and community organizations over the past 30 years from funds donated almost entirely by local residents and businesses. If you wish to contribute during this time of great need, please go to the website or send a check to the Foundation at 419 East Capitol St. SE, Washington DC, 20003. All contributions are tax deductible.