More than 1,600 donors contributed to a COVID-19 relief fund for Brooklyn’s most vulnerable residents, raising $3.7 million.

Brooklyn Community Foundation’s (BCF) Brooklyn COVID-19 Response Fund was set up in March to address the disproportionate social, economic and health impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, especially in communities of color.

To date, $3.3 million has been distributed to 214 nonprofits, helping them meet the urgent needs in their communities, with a focus on racial justice.

BCF President and CEO Cecilia Clarke said: “As the center of the epicenter this Spring, Brooklyn’s communities of color have endured unprecedented hardships, and local nonprofits have been invaluable lifelines of support.

Clarke said the foundation will now focus on the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and work towards dismantling racist systems and policies. “In this way, we continue our mission to fight for a fair and just Brooklyn for all.”

The relief fund is the largest community crowd-fundraising effort in the foundation’s 10-year history. In its first phase, BCF distributed $3.3 million in emergency grants to grassroots organizations through an open application process. It also gave out general operating support grants to prior foundation grantees and it donation matched for nearly 150 grantees’ crowdfunding campaigns.

Emergency grants of up to $10,000 were approved weekly for emergency food, PPE, direct cash assistance, healthcare services, support for survivors of domestic violence, small business loans, immigrant services, support for people recently released from incarceration, safe housing, local news coverage and more.

Of the nonprofits awarded grants, 68 percent were led by people of color and 35 percent had operating budgets of less than $500,000.

The next phase of the response fund will begin this summer, when BCF will gather insights from community-based organizations and residents most affected by systemic inequality. Through their feedback, the foundation will distribute grants targeting the disproportionate health, economic and social impacts stemming from systemic racial injustice in Brooklyn.

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