The board of the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland (SOCF) recently approved its fourth-quarter grant docket, bringing total grant awards for 2020 to $1,785,708.87. Investments in 2020 went almost entirely toward helping grantees mitigate the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In its strategic focus areas of ending homelessness, supporting Catholic sister ministries and strengthening the Central neighborhood, SOCF saw the challenges brought on by COVID-19, especially as much of this work relies on collaboration and community.
“This pandemic has laid bare so much of the systemic inequity we have been focused on for years,” said Susanna H. Krey, SOCF president. “There is not a population or organization we serve that is not feeling the collective stress of months of uncertainty, revenue loss and the illness and death of thousands of our community members. This collective stress requires collective response.”
SOCF was one of the original organizations to launch the Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund through the Cleveland Foundation back in March. In the Fund’s first phase, partners granted more than $8.6 million to nearly 160 nonprofit groups and organizations in Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties. Since launching Phase II in September, nearly $600,000 has been awarded, with more than $3.2 million in initial support.
At the onset of the pandemic, SOCF quickly adjusted its grantmaking policies and procedures in response to the pandemic’s rapid spread through Northeast Ohio. The Good Samaritan Grants Program, established to respond to basic needs for nonprofits annually, expedited its application and approval process, and SOCF deployed a Fast Response Team of staff & board to assess grant applications weekly.
“Our responsibility to this community is to step in and serve in ways that will make the most impact, especially for more marginalized communities and individuals,” said Krey. “Whether that means finding new ways to address race equity, pivoting quickly to care for those most impacted by the pandemic, or bolstering the essential role of Catholic sisters in service, we are proud to have the ability to be flexible and provide support any way we can.”
The foundation’s second responsive grantmaking program, the Saint Ann Legacy Grant program, is designed to specifically support the basic needs of ministries founded and/or led by Catholic sisters. When this year’s grantees applied overwhelmingly for COVID-19 support and response, SOCF looked to other national models that were serving ministries of Catholic sisters through the instability. SOCF joined with the Hilton Fund for Sisters, the Congregation of St. Joseph and the Conference of Religious Leadership (CORL) to pilot the Sisters on the Frontlines initiative in Northeast Ohio, distributing more than $60,000 for individual sisters to use in their own response efforts.
“As lifelong ministers of health, education and social services, sisters form close relationships with individuals and families they serve,” said Krey. “Sisters on the Frontlines gave sisters the resources to help in ways we never would see from the philanthropic level. They are restocking small food pantries, covering grocery bills for families of frontline workers, helping immigrants with health care paperwork—all incidental expenses where even a few hundred dollars will make tremendous difference.”
In the months that COVID spread less aggressively, SOCF reconnected with local organizations and partners working collaboratively to help break the cycle of poverty. Considerable funding through third and fourth quarters went toward helping initiatives sustain the pivots they had made to continue services, like offering virtual education, contact-free supply delivery and adjusting strategic planning practices.
Notable contributions in 2020 include investing $100,000 to Enterprise Community Partners and $110,000 to YWCA Greater Cleveland, the fiscal agent of A Place 4 Me, to sustain the Housing First and A Place 4 Me initiatives; $50,000 to Health Policy Institute of Ohio to bolster the connection between policy and poverty; $50,000 to Family Connections of Northeast Ohio to continue its SPARK home-visiting program through virtual visits, social media community and supply drop-offs; and $50,000 to Better Health Partnership to continue expanding its Pathways HUB to serve the Central neighborhood.
Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland
Since 1996, the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland has partnered with residents, nonprofits and community leaders to change the trajectory of poverty in Cuyahoga County. Its nearly $100 million endowment includes the first health care conversion foundation and first foundation formed by a congregation of Catholic sisters in the United States.
Through grantmaking, collaboration, advocacy and more, the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland works to improve the lives of those most in need with special attention to families, women and children living in poverty. The foundation works to end homelessness in Cuyahoga County and to reduce health disparities and improve educational opportunities in Cleveland’s Central Neighborhood. As a Catholic organization, the foundation extends the values of Jesus Christ through the mission of its founders – the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine – and also works to sustain the ministries of women religious.
The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System – a family of Catholic health care, grantmaking and outreach ministries healing individuals, families and communities in Ohio and South Carolina.
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