2020 was about pivoting and using our expertise to meet the need of the community.
In April 2020, County Executive Dr. Sam Page announced that St. Louis County would receive approximately $173 million as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES Act), which was passed by Congress on March 25 as a way to provide fast and direct economic assistance for American workers, families, small businesses, and industries. CSF, in collaboration with the St. Louis County Department of Human Services, were tasked with managing the CARES Act’s $24.5 million COVID-19 Humanitarian Response Program.
“County Executive Sam Page called on CSF to co-lead the Humanitarian Response effort on behalf of the County due to our expertise in grant-making and our strong collaborative relationship with the community and other funders,” said CSF Executive Director Emily Koenig. “We expertly and effectively allocated more than $20 million to respond to the critical needs of our community.”
Adapting to a New Normal and Supporting those Most in Need
$9.5 million of the Humanitarian Response Program focused on four main areas: senior and home bound programming, housing stabilization, technology, and social and emotional wellness. The funding opportunity was released on June 3, 2020, in order to support non-profit organizations in adapting their operations to meet the new needs in the community due to the public health crisis.
“Through the pandemic, we have relied on technology to stay connected to loved ones, jobs, and to receive care through telehealth modalities. Knowing technology will continue to be a cornerstone of how we live our lives, the County funded $1 million worth of programs and services that brought technology and equipment into the hands of residents,” said Koenig.
Of the $9.5 million, the County allocated over $4.5 million to housing and utility assistance and $2.5 million for homelessness prevention. The County wanted to make sure its most vulnerable residents were taken care of, allocating $1 million to programs serving seniors and individuals where were homebound.
The County received 87 applications, which were reviewed by a diverse group of community reviewers, and staff recommended funding 60 organizations and 97 programs.
Funding Child Care Providers and Domestic Violence Prevention
CSF’s involvement in CARES Act funding did not end with the Humanitarian Response Fund. Soon after the award announcement, the County allocated an additional $5.9 million for the Child Care Relief Program Fund to assist child care providers, many of which experienced business interruptions and increased expenses as a result of COVID-19.
The program provided funding to help assist with costs of business interruptions caused by COVID-19 and additional costs to facilitate compliance with County and CDC public health guidelines. In total, the County executed 93 contracts for 122 locations/sites.
In July 2020, St. Louis County allocated $1 million for the Domestic Violence Prevention Program. Although stay-at-home orders were intended to protect the public from the pandemic, it left many at home confined with their abusers. The program developed a four-pronged strategy address the needs of those impacted by intimate partner violence.
Awards from the COVID-19 Domestic Violence Response Fund focused on four key areas, as developed by working in collaboration and cooperation with service providers, funders, and other community leaders including increasing health protections in shelters, ensuring continuity of services through technology, preventing domestic and sexual violence, and raising public awareness of available resources. Eleven organizations were funded at $549,476.
Supporting Shifting Needs of Students
Lastly, CSF assisted with the $4 million Digital Equity Initiative to address the lack of technology and internet access for students learning remotely. The County’s Digital Equity Initiative provided 9,828 mobile hotspots, with each hotspot able to host up to five devices, distribute 6,085 tablets and Chromebooks, and provided professional tutoring services through the Library at tutor.com. Services were provided for 12 hours a day. In-person tutoring through the Miriam Learning Center for unique learners who may not respond well to online learning.
CSF’s mission has always been to Keep Kids First, focusing on the emotional wellbeing of children and their families. Throughout the pandemic, CSF’s board and staff utilized their expertise and capability to step into additional roles to protect our community’s most vulnerable.