WNY COVID-19 Community Response Fund

Unprecedented Crisis, Unprecedented Collaboration

There is strength in numbers – especially when an entire community unifies for the greater good. In 2020 we faced serious challenges, loss and uncertainty together.  When the pandemic arrived at doorsteps in mid-March 2020, dozens of funders in Western New York joined forces quickly to respond to the rapidly changing needs in our community.

Led by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, The John R. Oishei Foundation, Health Foundation for Western and Central New York and the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County, a convening call was held on March 13, 2020, to assess the willingness to stage a coordinated and regional philanthropic response. There was a resounding “yes” and the WNY COVID-19 Community Response Fund was created. The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, Peter & Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation and the Western New York Foundation joined in leading the effort that rapidly grew to include more than 60+ funding partners.

Weekly calls were initiated to ensure the entire group was receiving up-to-the-minute information on needs in the community and to ensure the collective response was coordinated through a racial equity lens. What happened in rapid succession is testament to the collective generosity and willingness of hundreds of foundations, corporations and individuals to support our region through one of the darkest years in recent memory.

This report details the Fund’s two simultaneous approaches to grantmaking to address the immediate needs in our community and fund solutions to long-term challenges exacerbated by the pandemic. It also shares the 100+ foundations, corporations and community leaders, and the more than 1,900 individuals who contributed to the fund.

The Community Foundation thanks all of its foundation partners and individual donors for their extraordinary response.