21 April 2020

$500,000 in rapid response COVID-19 grants from Hands Across Canberra, local foundations

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Diane Kargas Bray

Diane Kargas Bray says the need to boost charity funds in the COVID-19 crisis is urgent. Photo: Supplied.

The Chief Minister’s Charitable Fund (administered by Hands Across Canberra), The Snow Foundation and the John James Foundation have joined forces to create a $500,000 rapid response round of grant funding for local non-profit organisations going through the COVID-19 crisis.

Peter Gordon from Hands Across Canberra says it’s probably a first in a time of crisis that they’ve worked together like this, and it’s much needed. Hands Across Canberra has surveyed the 250 charities with whom they work twice this year, once after the bushfires and again in response to COVID-19.

“It’s been tough for charities since December,” Peter says. “Hundreds of millions were raised for bushfires, which was a magnificent effort, but the clients of charities are still there, the ongoing work must continue, and workloads have increased and changed.

“There was already overwhelming need but now client bases for these charities are growing exponentially. Our survey results are clearly and unsurprisingly showing mental health, domestic violence and homelessness issues peaking as the COVID-19 crisis escalates.

Hands Across Canberra was part of the community relief network established last week, which Peter described as “an incredible collaboration” to create a warehouse, relief network and call centre.

“This is an illustration of how the community comes together in times of great stress,” he added.

Joe Roff

The John James Foundation, headed by Joe Roff, is part of the rapid response grant round. Photo: File.

The COVID-19 Rapid Response Grant Round will distribute an initial $500,000 to local non-profit organisations affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and Diane Kargas Bray AM, Chair of Hands Across Canberra and the Chief Minister’s Charitable Fund ACT charities, said the foundations are encouraging local charities to apply for small grants up to $15,000 and medium grants up to $25,000.

“We listened to our community sector and heard that everyone is facing challenges due to COVID-19. In the past two weeks, local community organisations have grappled with simultaneously adjusting their work environments for the safety of staff and volunteers, as well as dealing with a surge in demand for their services.”

The beauty of the grants round is that it draws on deeply local connections from organisations and businesses based in Canberra and supporting their local community.

Georgina Byron

Georgina Byron from the Snow Foundation is urging a collaborative approach to the COVID-19 crisis. Photo: File.

Georgina Byron, CEO of The Snow Foundation, said that collaboration was the key to an effective community response in times of crisis.

“By injecting half a million dollars into local community charities, we are providing support to the Canberra community in the quickest and most effective way we can,” she said.

“Collaboration is needed now more than ever to strengthen community organisations and charities to be able to continue to operate and help those in need, especially where demand has increased significantly.”

The motivation is similar for the John James Foundation. CEO Joe Roff says they are committed to providing flexible resources to organisations in Canberra and the nearby region.

“We are working with communities who are disproportionately impacted by the consequences of the pandemic. This cooperative response is the exact role those community foundations should play in serving our region,” he said.

Hands Across Canberra is an independent philanthropic community foundation working with more than 250 local community organisations. Funds for this grant round are being provided by the Chief Minister’s Charitable Fund which is delivered in partnership with Hands Across Canberra.

Grant applications, criteria and guidelines can be found here. Applications are open now and close midnight, 10 April 2020.

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