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Pandemic Pivoting and Planning in Our New Fiscal Year

A grant from the Bright Idea Fund within the Community Foundation to the Waupaca Community Arts Board helped the community create hundreds of Kindness Flags, which were displayed recently in downtown Waupaca. 

By Tammy Geenen, Vice President Community Engagement, Community Foundation

Unprecedented challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic during the last several months continue to test everyone in our communities. The nonprofit sector has been hit hard. I’m inspired by the dedication, creativity, and resiliency of everyone with our local nonprofit organizations who are working tirelessly to navigate through and respond during these uncertain times! Thank you for everything you’re doing. We see you. We’re listening. We’re here to help.

We’ve heard from nonprofit organizations that the focus of this summer has included pivoting and planning for returning to the office, re-engaging with those they serve, and re-imagining programs.

We’ve been pivoting and planning, too.

OFFICE UPDATE

Through the end of 2020, our team members have the flexibility to work remotely from home, safely in-person in our newly expanded office, or a combination of both.

Our dedicated service to our nonprofit partners, donors and Fox Valley region communities continues uninterrupted as it has since March.

While our office will remain closed to visitors until further notice, we’re committed to maintaining connections virtually as long as needed to ensure everyone’s safety.

LISTENING AND LEARNING

In spring, we joined 779 organizations that have signed the Council on Foundations’ COVID-19 grantmaking accountability pledge, demonstrating our commitment to providing flexibility to grantee partners during the pandemic. We’ve been constantly learning about changing local needs through current data review, individual conversations with nonprofit partners and virtual meetings with other funders and community leaders.

All of this has guided us as we’ve been thoughtfully evaluating and adjusting many of our existing grant programs, including the Bright Idea Fund and Basic Needs Giving Partnership to be more responsive, effective, efficient during the pandemic.

BRIGHT IDEA FUND CHANGES

The Community Foundation’s Bright Idea Fund is a permanent fund that seeks to fulfill community needs and advance well-being for all in in Calumet, Outagamie, Shawano and Waupaca and the Neenah-Menasha area of Winnebago counties. The fund combines dollars from generous donors who believe in giving in ways that address ever-changing community needs together. Want to join them? Learn how.

Grants are awarded from the fund through application and review processes that align with the fund’s focus areas and the values of respect, integrity, teamwork, diversity-equity-inclusion, and creativity. Read about the fund’s new approach for our FY2020-21 here

BASIC NEEDS GIVING PARTNERSHIP CHANGES

This Partnership within the Community Foundation is supported by the U.S. Venture Fund for Basic Needs, the J.J. Keller Foundation and other community partners. The Partnership’s purpose is to address the systemic, root causes of economic inequality by supporting and partnering with leaders, organizations, and regional networks who work to advance shared economic prosperity across NE Wisconsin.

Given the current, extraordinary need in Northeast Wisconsin and the opportunity for impact, the Basic Needs Giving Partnership is adding $5 million to its regular grantmaking pool for FY2020-21 from its three endowments in Green Bay, Fox Valley and Oshkosh. Read about the Partnership’s priorities and approach here.  

COVID-19 COMMUNITY RESPONSE FUND UPDATE

Five months ago, we launched the COVID-19 Community Response Fund in partnership with United Way Fox Cities. A total of $1.1 million in grants from the $1.5 million donated has been distributed to more than 85 nonprofit organizations meeting critical needs in Outagamie, Calumet, Shawano, Waupaca and the Neenah/Menasha area of Winnebago counties! What a wonderful expression of how Together, we flourish. 

While so much has been accomplished since this spring, needs in our local communities continue to be significant and ever-changing. Additional donations to the fund are needed and will help to support people disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Learn about the Fund’s current granting priorities and how to give here.  

Stay safe and be well!


What does a Community Foundation do? Glad you asked! Learn more here.

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