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Humboldt Area Foundation Mobilizes $2 million in Local Loans to Assist Nonprofit Organizations and Businesses
In response to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Humboldt Area Foundation is deploying $2 million in loans to stabilize local nonprofits, businesses, sole proprietors and other organizations.
BAYSIDE, CA (APRIL 28, 2020) – In response to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Humboldt Area Foundation is deploying $2 million in loans to stabilize local nonprofits, businesses, sole proprietors and other organizations.
The loan program expands the commitment of HAF and its affiliate, Wild Rivers Community Foundation, to respond to the current crisis through all available resources. Since March 20, nearly a half-million dollars has been granted to the region through the COVID-19 Regional Response Fund for immediate response and long term recovery in Humboldt, Del Norte, Trinity and Curry counties.
Through this additional resource, the loans provide flexibility, low interest, and debt bridges to our local organizations in this volatile time. HAF has already funded over $680,000 in loans. It is partnering with key regional institutions and other community lenders to ensure our community has necessary capital to operate and recover.
CEO Bryna Lipper said: “In these uncertain times, the Foundation is utilizing all its assets to assist the residents of our communities to weather difficult times, whether it be grants, loans or the expertise of our staff. While the Foundation continues make grants almost daily, using our endowment to make loans locally increases the impact we can make.”
HAF is a participant in the COVID-19 Bridge Loan Program administered by Redwood Region Economic Development Commission (“RREDC”). The Business Resilience Emergency Loan Program fund is providing emergency low interest loans to Humboldt County businesses and nonprofits up to $25,000.
HAF has also teamed up with Arcata Economic Development to fund over $180,000 in Paycheck Protection Program loans to local nonprofits, and is creating a Nonprofit Loan Fund that AEDC will administer. The loans from the Nonprofit Loan Fund will be for a maximum of $25,000 per organization, bear interest at 0% through the end of 2020, and be payable for five years at 1%.
Local businessman John McBeth, who serves on the HAF board and chairs its investment Committee, noted, “Since 2013, Humboldt Area Foundation has made a total of $5.3 million in loans to local nonprofit agencies and governments. By working with established lenders like RREDC and AEDC, HAF can utilize their expertise while getting money out to organizations who badly need it. It is a prudent use of HAF’s capital.”
More information about the COVID-19 Bridge Loans Program is available at http://rredc.com/. For information regarding the Nonprofit Loan Fund, contact Patrick Cleary, Director of Community Prosperity and Investments at HAF at email@example.com or by calling (707) 267-9902.
To read the full list of organizations who received grants so far, and ways to donate, click here.
A region-wide survey of nonprofit agencies highlights the nonprofit sector’s strength and resiliency to adapt in a year of uncertain conditions.
Released today, the 2020 Winter State of the Sector Report, now available for downloading here, highlights 101 nonprofit organizations in Curry, Del Norte, Humboldt, and Trinity counties. The survey, conducted by the Del Norte Nonprofit Alliance and the Northern California Association of Nonprofits, reveals major strengths and challenges facing nonprofits as they strive to meet their service commitments to the communities they serve.
Overall, nonprofits are adapting to meet critical “safety-net” needs during the pandemic in new and creative ways, often with greater demands for their services, fewer staff and volunteers, and less flexible funding.
A common theme among survey responses was a noticeable increase in nonprofits’ service demands in all sectors, including food and housing security, youth and family services, organizations serving Black, Indigenous and Communities of Color, and nonprofits supporting survivors of domestic and intimate partner violence. While 45 percent of respondents said their services were more in demand, nonprofit organizations are struggling with an average 20 percent reduction in staff and volunteers.
Almost all organizations polled (90 percent) reported they have adapted their business models, with two-thirds (66 percent) pivoting to some level of remote work and service delivery. For some organizations, the large and unexpected costs of transitioning to a more technology dependent operation have presented significant financial difficulties as most do not have funding for such expenses.
To meet the challenges of providing critical services during this time, many nonprofits (42 percent) reported they are relying more on their partners to create accessible services and increase organizational capacity. As one anonymous respondent wrote, “this has been a great opportunity to find common ground between like organizations, which will hopefully [reduce] the number of silos in the nonprofit community.”
Budgets and income were a major concern for many respondents, with nearly 40 percent of nonprofits reporting decreased individual giving and 68 percent reporting a decrease in earned income. Certainly, COVID-19 restrictions have hampered nonprofits’ efforts to fundraise, with many organizations reporting that major fundraising drives were canceled due to the pandemic. On a bright note, 60 percent of nonprofits said they were “very confident” or “confident” in their ability to serve their organizational mission through 2021.
One important factor underscored by the report is the critical role nonprofits play in reaching underserved communities. Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) serving nonprofits make use of trust, cultural and linguistic understanding to reach populations that otherwise are not served by government-led pandemic response efforts.
As a response, 76 percent of surveyed nonprofits said they are using a racial equity lens at some level to make key decisions concerning their disaster response, however, the majority of respondents (68 percent) indicated that BIPOC individuals constitute less than 10 percent of their staff and boards of directors. This disparity in staff and populations served highlights the need to grow the practice of racial equity in decision-making while also recruiting BIPOC for staff and leadership positions.
To read the full report, download the PDF here (3.8MB).
BAYSIDE, CA (APRIL 3, 2020) – The first grants from the COVID-19 Regional Response Fund, totaling $195,920, are going to eighteen organizations in Humboldt, Trinity, Del Norte and Curry counties to help our communities deal with the effects of the coronavirus.
The COVID-19 Fund was launched on March 20, by Humboldt Area Foundation and its affiliate the Wild Rivers Community Foundation in Del Norte County. With additional support from The California Endowment and The California Wellness Foundation, the fund started with $150,000. During the first two weeks, over 55 individual contributions and donor pledges have grown the fund to more than $285,000.
“Every one of our board members has given to the fund,” said CEO Bryna Lipper. “We live in a generous community and think $1 million is within our reach. It will help thousands of people,” Lipper said.
To encourage giving to the fund, HAF is taking no administrative fees, with 100% of every gift going to grants.
HAF’s areas of focus in awarding grants from the fund includes seniors, people with compromised immune systems, homeless, first-responders and Native communities.
In making the grants, HAF is using a streamlined review process that does not burden area nonprofits during this difficult time with a lengthy application process.
Sara Dronkers, Director of Grantmaking and Nonprofit Resources said, “Our team is reaching out daily to area nonprofits, public agencies, businesses, civic leaders and Native communities from Garberville to Weaverville to Hoopa, Crescent City and Brookings, Oregon to help us target our grants to charitable organizations on the front lines of service.”
Grants from the COVID-19 Fund are just one tool HAF is utilizing to meet the current crisis. Other resources being mobilized include loans to nonprofits, grants from other funds, fundraising from partner foundations and community leadership activities to bring partners together for action.
The first grants made from the fund (as of April 2) are:
· United Indian Health Services, $18,200, to get food and meals to 1,300 elders in local Native communities during the coronavirus and during a gap in federal funding.
· The Wiyot Tribe, $1,000, for extra hygiene, cleaning and pet supplies for elders.
· The Yurok Tribe, $20,000, to provide additional hygiene packages, food delivery and firewood to tribal members, including 900 elders and 500 at-risk youth.
· 211 Humboldt, $2,000, to the Mother Women Rising Support Group for extra help for clients as a result of the coronavirus.
· Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives, $5,000, for additional general operating support for homeless services resulting from the coronavirus.
· Arcata House Partnership, $4,000, for facility improvements to maintain health, safety and physical distancing during the coronavirus.
· Cooperation Humboldt, $5,000, for their COVID-19 Response Coalition and $2,000 for the Humboldt Parent Hive Childcare Co-op.
· Del Norte Mission Possible, $10,000, for increased program and management support needed to address the coronavirus.
· Eureka Rescue Mission, $10,000, to help meet an increased demand for services resulting from the coronavirus.
· Family Resource Center of the Redwoods, $10,000, for its food pantry facing increased demands during the coronavirus.
· Food for People, $18,000, to respond to increased COVID-19 related demands on the organization.
· Gold Beach Senior Center, $10,000, to help with increased food distribution needs in Gold Beach and Port Orford, Oregon due to the coronavirus.
· Healy Senior Center, Redway, $15,000, to maintain and expand program operations and staffing for senior services during the coronavirus.
· Humboldt Bay Firefighters Local 652, $15,300, to purchase reusable medical Personal Protection Equipment jackets for first responders needed to protect them and the public during the coronavirus.
· Humboldt Family Services Center, $6,000, for virtual counseling for struggling families sheltering in place during the coronavirus.
· Southern Humboldt Housing Opportunities, $12,420, for two weeks of motel rooms for homeless people made vulnerable during the coronavirus and additional meals for other homeless individuals.
· Transitional Residential Treatment Facilities, $20,000, to support the shelter in place operations for 25 mentally ill individuals.
· Trinity Community Food Outreach, $10,000, for an additional food storage unit for the county’s food bank in Weaverville, along with funds for seven pantries to purchase perishables not available through government programs.
Contributions, small or large, can be made to the COVID-19 Regional Response Fund online at hafoundation.org/Giving/COVID19 or by mailing checks to HAF at 363 Indianola Rd, Bayside, CA 95524. For more info call (707) 442-2993.
Members of the Hmong Cultural Center Distribute Food During COVID-19. Photo Courtesy Marylyn Paik-Nicely.
The Humboldt Area Foundation and the Wild Rivers Community Foundation have released a follow up to its 2020 COVID-19 report. The COVID-19 Regional Response Fund Report, March 2020-March 2021 can be downloaded here.
The report looks at a one-year snapshot of rapid-response community grant making. Between March 2020 and March 2021, the foundations granted more than 200 grants totaling more than $2.7 million. The report outlines how the foundations shifted its standard grant making cycles into high gear to respond to ever-changing community needs. The report also details more than 20 lessons learned from a year of community response. Those lessons sketch an outline of ways nonprofits and community foundations can make substantive changes to be better prepared for the next disaster.
The report is divided into an 8-page executive summary followed by four appendices to provide greater detail.
Download the Executive Summary [PDF 11.1 mb]
Appendix 1: Regional Context [PDF 422 kb]
Appendix 2: Grants By Theme Tables [PDF 377 kb]
Appendix 3: Lessons Learned from COVID-19 Response [PDF 267 kb]
Appendix 4: List of All Donors & Funders [PDF 246 kb]
Download the Initial COVID-19 Regional Response Fund Report [PDF 5.4 mb]
For contributions, giving and fund information email Gina Zottola or call 707-267-9905.
For questions about grants from the fund email Craig Woods or call 707-442-2993 ext. 307.
For media inquiries email Jarad Petroske or call 707-382-4716.
Broadband internet access remains out of reach for many. But during the last 16 months, the Humboldt Area Foundation and the Wild Rivers Community Foundation, have been supporting tech access throughout the region with more than $623,000 in technology grants from the foundations’ COVID-19 Regional Response Fund.
Getting more folks connected to the internet is critical. Why? Access to the internet means access to work, access to school, health resources, and so many other things. It’s so deeply integrated into our society that those without access are at an immediate sociological disadvantage. In fact, in 2016, the United Nations added the freedom to express oneself on the internet to its Universal Declaration of Human Rights to include human right,
Earlier this month, the Pew Research Center shared its findings from the 2021 Mobile Technology and Home Broadband report. While the report finds that the majority of Americans are connected to high-speed internet, still 38 percent of rural households remain without reliable broadband internet. Thousands of those folks are living in Curry, Del Norte, Humboldt, and Trinity counties without advanced internet connections as the on-going COVID-19 pandemic transforms school and work life for many. HAF and WRCF are committed to closing the technology gap among families in need of tech access.
Within a week of California and Oregon’s 2020 statewide shelter-in-place orders, HAF and WRCF created the COVID-19 Regional Response Fund, which grew to $3,397,339 thanks to generous contributions from our donors and funders.
The response money also included a special COVID technology fund, designed to support the community as work and school shifted online. Since its inception, HAF and WRCF have partnered with local school districts, Tribal governments, nonprofits, and individuals, with more than 63 technology grants distributed as of this writing.
Two things became clear as the foundations distributed the funds. First, in rural areas, people can be hard to connect to for many reasons, whether that’s due to technology access, remoteness, or personal choice. Second, communities of color suffer the most and local health officials have collected ample evidence that Native American and Latinx communities were particularly hard hit with a disproportionate number of positive COVID-19 cases. It seems communities most impacted by COVID-19 are often the same people who lack access to suitable internet technology.
Here are some recent highlight grants that HAF and WRCF have made to boost tech access and ensure our community members could make the transition to online working and learning:
● A recent $12,500 grant to the Wiyot Tribe will help residents connect to SpaceX’s satellite-based Starlink internet service. This satellite-based internet service will connect Wiyot community members who are otherwise unreachable by other Internet providers.
● The foundation supported the Hoopa Valley’s Tribal TANF with $5,000 for iPads and internet connectivity so expectant parents could continue to take Motherhood is Sacred/Fatherhood is Sacred parenting classes when quarantine restrictions meant meeting in person wasn’t an option.
● Over the last 15 months, more than 250 Chromebooks, iPads and other computers have been given to individuals and nonprofits.
As part of the foundation's 10 year strategic vision, HAF and WRCF are committed to addressing the issues around broadband internet access, and technology grants are just one way to achieve that goal. The Foundations’ strategic plan envisions “a thriving, just, healthy and equitable region,” which is supported by four goal areas:
● Racial Equity
● Healthy Ecosystems
● Thriving Youth and Families
● A Just Economy and Economic Development
When youth and families thrive, we all thrive. That’s why supporting ‘thriving youth and families’ is one of HAF+WRCF’s goal areas. In the early days of the pandemic, HAF and WRCF granted more than $23,000 to the Humboldt County Office of Education, the Trinity Alps Unified School District, and the Fortuna Union School District to provide dozens of hotspots and tech supplies to families throughout the foundation’s service region.
For too long, our neighbors in the underserved remote communities in Del Norte, Trinity, Humboldt, and Curry counties have been excluded from the current technology revolution because they can’t rely on a cellular phone, let alone a broadband internet connection. These disparities are even more drastic when it comes to access for Native communities. HAF and WRCF also consider addressing issues around racial equity as a top goal, and recent grants are ensuring underserved communities can close technology gaps.
Organizations like Central De Pueblo and the Seventh Generation Fund work closely with our BIPOC community members, but like many nonprofits, these groups saw many challenges as they grappled with COVID. HAF and WRCF helped these groups meet basic technology needs with a $9,000 grant for tech and office supplies to support this online transition. Other groups that serve historically marginalized populations have received funding for telehealth technology, remote work stations, and much more (Read more about the transitions and challenges these nonprofits faced during the pandemic in our State of the Sector Report).
Of course, the technology gap won’t close with the end of the pandemic. HAF and WRCF remain committed to addressing these technology and connectivity needs through innovative partnerships with our local community members, especially when closing the technology gap can help create “a thriving, just, healthy and equitable region.”
As COVID-19 cases soar in Del Norte County, the overworked staff at Crescent City’s Sutter Coast Hospital is receiving much-needed meals provided by local restaurants, donations and a $30,000 COVID-19 grant from Wild Rivers Community Foundation and Humboldt Area Foundation.
“When we heard that hospital employees are working 16-hour shifts, the hospital cafeteria is closed, and they have little to no time for breaks and meals, we asked what can we do?” said Gina Zottola, vice president of Advancement & Philanthropic Innovation for WRCF and HAF. “This grant will provide our heroic health care workers with 175 meals and healthy snacks per day for four weeks.”
Zottola said the grant was spurred by last weekend’s efforts by Del Norte County Supervisor Valerie Starkey and resident Kelly Schellong, who organized with friends and local businesses to provide hospital employees with snacks and water. Over the weekend, the hospital received donated salads, sandwiches, snacks and drinks from Frank’s Heating and Refrigeration and Hiouchi Hamlet. Other businesses have since joined in the effort, Starkey said.
“We just wanted to do something to keep the staff fed,” Starkey said. “They don’t have a cafeteria and they can’t simply run down and get a banana. This is something the community can do to show we care.”
The $30,000 grant will help Starkey and others work with local restaurants, food trucks and caterers to provide prepackaged meals from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. each day. Hospital employees are encouraged to take some of the food home to family members after their shift.
Starkey also encouraged residents to make posters with encouraging words that can be displayed at the hospital. “Anybody can make a poster and it is a great way to show the hospital staff how important they are and that the community supports them.”
People who want to donate and businesses that would like to provide meals can contact Starkey at 707-490-9177 or Kelly Schellong at 707-218-5060.
Since pandemic lockdowns began in March, 2020, Humboldt Area Foundation and Wild Rivers Community Foundation have distributed $3.3 million via 246 grants from its COVID-19 Regional Response Fund, most of which has been shared with nonprofits in Del Norte, Curry, Humboldt and Trinity counties. The grants range from $1,000 to $50,000 and support critical needs including food insecurity, technology access, health care access, racial equity and housing needs. Learn more about supporting the fund at hafoundation.org/Giving/COVID19.
As the line for vaccine doses shrank, a group of participants started doing Zumba. The fair provided several activities, like dancing and face painting, to bring as many families as possible in to get vaccinated. Photo By Kris Nagel
More than most, Loleta resident Yohana Castillo, 36, has experienced unexpected and tremendous loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the past eight months, she has lost four people. First her cousin, Esteban Gonzalez, of Esteban’s Mexican restaurant in Arcata, died of complications from the disease. Then another cousin, followed by a distant family member in Mexico City and, finally, her neighbor.
Seeing the effects the virus had on her family and wanting to protect their 4-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter, Castillo and her husband decided to get vaccinated.
“Now that I’m vaccinated, I feel safer going out, seeing my family,” she told the Journal in Spanish.
Since receiving her vaccination, Castillo has been on a quest to help as many people in her community get vaccinated by making sure they understand what the protection can do. She was able to help the rest of her family get their vaccines.
“I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through,” she said. “I want everyone to have the opportunity to feel safe the way I feel safe.”
Castillo likes to be involved in her daughter’s school activities and met True North Organizing Network organizing director Julia Lerma through a virtual event. They began talking about their lives and Castillo’s recent losses when Lerma told her about True North’s planned efforts to help the county’s Latinx population get vaccinated. Castillo jumped on board and quickly became a volunteer organizer for the Eureka-based nonprofit.
Humboldt’s Latinx population is still lagging behind in vaccination rates despite seeing disproportionate rates of infection. As of July 15, about 45 percent of Humboldt County’s Latinx population had received at least one dose of the vaccine compared to about 50 percent of the county’s non-Hispanic/Latinx population. Meanwhile, residents identifying as Hispanic and Latinx continue to make up 23 percent of the county’s positive COVID cases despite making up only 12 percent of the county’s population. Statewide, roughly 43 percent of the Latinx population has received at least one dose of the vaccine compared to 53 percent of the population overall, while Latinx residents account for 56 percent of COVID-19 cases despite making up 39 percent of the population, according to the California Department of Public Health.
Local efforts to reach the Latinx community with COVID-19 safety and vaccination information have been challenging, as has been the case statewide and nationally. Many Hispanic and Latinx Humboldt County residents have reported finding it challenging to find accurate information in Spanish, though public health has staffed its COVID-19 information line with Spanish speakers and has translated COVID information and social media posts hoping to reach non-English speakers.
There are a variety of reasons vaccine hesitancy may be more pervasive in the Hispanic and Latinx population than other demographics.
“Compared to white adults, larger shares of unvaccinated Hispanic adults say they are concerned about missing work due to vaccine side effects, that they might have to pay out of pocket for the vaccine (despite it being free), not being able to get the vaccine from a trusted place, or having difficulty traveling to a vaccination site,” states a recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation. “Among Hispanic adults, the shares expressing many of these concerns are even greater among those with lower incomes, the uninsured, and those who are potentially undocumented.”
Humboldt County Health Officer Ian Hoffman has repeatedly said offering local employees time off to get vaccinated and even sick leave if they experience side effects would reduce barriers locally, though it’s unclear how many businesses are doing it.
True North, meanwhile, has worked to get translated health and safety information to Humboldt’s Latinx community, while also working with the vaccine hesitant and creating more comfortable environments for Latinx community members to get vaccinated in. And so the idea of the family friendly vaccine fair was born and the nonprofit started planning a festive event that would feel distinctly different than the mass vaccination clinics being organized by public health.
Before the fair, Castillo and True North spent time canvassing in Latinx communities at churches, mercados and neighborhoods, posting Spanish-language flyers about the vaccine fair with phone numbers — including her own — for those hesitant about the COVID vaccine to call for more information. Castillo told those who called about her story why she decided to get the vaccine and her experience getting her shot.
“They’re afraid of getting a reaction,” Castillo said. “We have a group of three people working to talk to people and I haven’t heard a different concern but that they’re all afraid to get a bad reaction to the vaccine. So, we always tell them to talk to their doctor — sometimes they begin to tell me what (medical conditions) they have, and I can’t answer that, but we give them the information we can.”
The day of the vaccine clinic last month was unusually warm and drizzly. In front of the COVID-19 vaccine clinic at College of the Redwoods gymnasium, Castillo and True North’s team of volunteer organizers set up a sound system for music and tables, one for snacks filled with pan dulce, water and juice, another with kids’ activities, like coloring books and markers, and a third for people to get raffle tickets and free tacos.
The rain didn’t dampen Castillo’s helpful demeanor. She was wearing a mask but smiled with her eyes as she greeted those walking up to the gym, asking them first in Spanish if they were there for their vaccination, then directing them to where they needed to go. If they didn’t speak Spanish, she used the bit of English she knows to direct them. But she was there primarily as a first point of contact for those who only speak Spanish, letting them know there were people there to speak to them in their language. At one point, she held a bundle of balloons that she passed out to kids.
She said she felt happy and emotional at the fair, pointing out that while the fair drew in some folks to get vaccinated, others showed up to get their shots totally unaware of the accompanying activities and free tacos.
Adding to the festive, inviting atmosphere was Jorge Matias, who works for St. Joseph Health and whom True North invited to put on a Zumba lesson. With an energetic charm, Matias got people dancing.
According to the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services, a total of 109 people were vaccinated during the June 13 fair, 27 of them walk-ins. In comparison, the week of July 12 saw Public Health’s mobile team vaccinate a total of 97 people at the Humboldt Crabs game and clinics in Rio Dell, Fortuna and Samoa, according to a July 13 COVID update to the board of supervisors.
Public health officials have also said that even registering for a vaccine appointment can pose another barrier for those wanting to get their vaccinations.
During an April meeting with LatinoNet, Hoffman said Public Health’s goal is to ensure vaccine equity for the Latinx community and to guarantee that any Latinx resident seeking a COVID-19 vaccine feels comfortable and confident before, during and after their appointment, which is what True North was able to accomplish with its vaccine fair.
“People really enjoyed the event,” Castillo said. “They felt comfortable and like they were with family, and at ease because there were people there who spoke Spanish.”
True North held another vaccine clinic in Arcata similar to the one at the College of the Redwoods, with raffles, free food and Zumba, but won’t stop there. True North will hold more vaccine fairs in Fortuna and Eureka, continuing with the nonprofit’s mission of making sure everyone has an opportunity to get vaccinated in a setting that makes them comfortable, no matter the distance. Castillo, for one, is excited.
“I think [the future vaccine fairs] will go very well and we’ll be successful because we really want all people to get vaccinated and feel safer at work and at school, with their family and the simple fact of going outside,” Castillo said.
Iridian Casarez (she/her) is a staff writer at the Journal. Reach her at 442-1400, extension 317, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @IridianCasarez.
The Community Voices Coalition is a project funded by Humboldt Area Foundation and Wild Rivers Community Foundation to support local journalism. This story was produced by the North Coast Journal newsroom with full editorial independence and control.
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