Supporting Children, Families and Education: COVID-19 Grantmaking in Action

With schools and child care centers closed and parents simultaneously serving as teachers, care providers and income earners, families are strained and many children face uncertain futures. With support from donors, OCF is rapidly funding nonprofits helping children impacted by COVID-19 across the state.

Research and experience demonstrate that children from low-income families, communities of color and rural areas are more likely to lack opportunities to advance. With groups experiencing uneven access to stable homes, learning technology and parental teaching support, the pandemic closures will have disparate effects across the socio-economic ladder.

Child care providers provide an essential role, yet the child care system as a whole is at risk of collapse due to the economic impact of extended closures. As highlighted in a recent OPB story, “Pandemic Reveals Oregon's Major Child Care Problem,” child care providers are either closing or are trying to stay open with reduced capacity to support the needs of working families.

To address disparities, OCF established the Oregon Community Recovery Fund, received hundreds of gifts and accelerated grantmaking to rapidly deploy funds to nonprofits working on all fronts of COVID-19 response. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, OCF has distributed $2.6 million to 39 nonprofits specifically addressing school closures and early childhood support.  

Here are just a few samples of the important work happening around our state to support COVID-recovery for organizations serving children:

Kids Club of Harney County in Burns provides safe and enriching out of school time programs for youth that prepare them for success by offering academic support and guidance as they learn the responsibility of healthy life choices. The program also provides healthy lunches and snacks. When the schools were ordered closed, Kids Club continued to serve youth by extending hours. When Governor Brown issued the Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive Order Kids Club had to temporarily close as well as cancel its annual fundraiser. The OCF grant provides emergency general operation support to fill major funding gaps, ensuring that when restrictions are lifted Kids Club will be able to resume serving the community seamlessly.

Kids Unlimited in Jackson County traditionally serves Latinx and low-income youth and families through an academy and out of school time programming. In response to this crisis, Kids Unlimited has completely transformed its services to assist the provision of thousands of freshly prepared meals each day for any child up to age 18, including home delivery. To ensure equitable learning Kids Unlimited also provides hundreds of computers and internet service to homes lacking these technologies. These emergency services are designed to alleviate cultural, economic and language gaps ensuring access that’s needed now more than ever. None of these resource systems were planned but are critical to the community. Kids Unlimited has been crippled by the canceling of its most critical fundraising events.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Lane County is a youth development agency serving approximately 500 rural youth ages 6 to 18 per year. The Boys & Girls Club fills the gap between school and home, including a summer program, providing a safe, welcoming, positive environment in which kids and teens have fun, participate in life-changing programs and build supportive relationships with peers and caring adults. Sixty-six percent of its families are at the poverty level and many now are experiencing unemployment due to lost tourism income in Florence. An OCF grant is providing general operating emergency funds to help the organization overcome lost revenue so that it can have staff in place when the club opens.

Jordan Valley School District in Malheur County educates students in one of the geographically largest and least densely populated areas in Oregon. Many student households do not have adequate internet service for distance learning or their internet access is at risk due to family finances. Fifteen families are very close to financial crisis and need help to get through the next two months. OCF funds will cover costs for two months to pay for temporary internet service, tutors, a delivery service for groceries to needy families and supplemental cash assistance to families in need of help paying bills for vital services such as utilities.

Relief nurseries partner with families who are raising children ages birth through 5 years old to ensure each child gets the best start at life. Relief nurseries provide a unique array of comprehensive family support services that are easily accessible to low-income parents with children who are at high risk for abuse or neglect. OCF grants support work on the front lines with families that were already highly stressed before the pandemic, and for whom challenges and risks have only been magnified. Funded organizations include Relief Nursery, Inc. in Eugene; Family Relief Nursery - South Lane in Cottage Grove; Treasure Valley Children's Relief Nursery in Ontario and Pioneer Relief Nursery in Pendleton.

Open School in Portland operates a full-time alternative school for 130 students in grades 7-12 and part-time extended-day programs for trauma impacted, lower-income kids largely from communities of color. Many of the students didn’t have the resources to participate in online learning. An OCF grant is funding the purchase of 40 new Chromebooks with licensing so that all students may have access to online learning.

Elevate Oregon in Portland delivers mentoring to students in the Parkrose School District—the most diverse school district in the state—a historically disenfranchised and disconnected community with the third highest dropout rate in Oregon and where 90% of students enroll in free or reduced lunch programs. Elevate Oregon is seen by both the community and school district as the most capable service provider to support youth of color in the district. Teacher-mentors are continuing regular contact with their students, assessing family needs, providing access to resources and giving critical socio-emotional support and guidance. Funding from OCF is helping Elevate Oregon increase mentoring activities and acquire, package and distribute shelf-stable food supplies to students.

Inner City Basketball in Portland works with gang-impacted youth, combining education and basketball to inspire youth to become successful in school and in athletics. Inner City Basketball usually provides dinner for its student athletes. Now, with the children being out of school and all program events canceled indefinitely, the families of the student athletes are in need of support for food. An OCF grant is providing funding to help provide meals for the program's student athletes and their families, and operations cost gaps resulting from lost revenue.

Full list of OCF-funded nonprofits dealing with school closure issues and child care:

School Closure Issues

  • REACH Redmond in Redmond ($75,000)
  • Camp Tamarack in Bend ($15,000)
  • Kids Club of Harney County in Burns ($23,600)
  • Kids Unlimited in Medford ($50,000)
  • Kids Club of Jefferson County in Madras ($23,600)
  • Friends of the Children - Klamath Basin in Klamath Falls ($50,000)
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Lane County in Florence ($10,000)
  • Ophelia's Place in Eugene ($5,000)
  • South Lane School District in Cottage Grove ($5,000)
  • Jordan Valley School District in Jordan Valley ($9,920)
  • Inner City Basketball in Portland ($5,000)
  • Open School in Portland ($12,000)
  • Free Geek in Portland ($50,000)
  • Active Children Portland in Portland ($35,000)
  • Elevate Oregon in Portland ($50,000)
  • HOLLA Mentors in Portland ($50,000)
  • Friends of the Children - Portland in Portland ($50,000)
  • Andrew Nativity School in Portland ($25,000)
  • Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center in Portland ($50,000)
  • Camp Fire Columbia in Portland ($40,000)
  • Children's Book Bank in Portland ($20,000)
  • Greater Than in Portland ($45,000)
  • KairosPDX in Portland ($40,000)
  • Chess For Success statewide ($20,000)
  • Friends of Saturday Academy in Portland ($15,000)
  • College Possible in Portland ($15,000)
  • SMART Reading statewide ($30,000)

Child Care

  • Old Mill Center for Children & Families in Corvallis ($15,000)
  • Family Development Center in Roseburg ($20,000)
  • Butte Falls Community School Partnership in Butte Falls ($16,000)
  • Parenting Now! in Eugene ($20,000)
  • Relief Nursery, Inc. in Eugene ($50,000)
  • Family Relief Nursery - South Lane in Cottage Grove ($20,000)
  • Treasure Valley Children's Relief Nursery in Ontario ($10,000)
  • Albina Head Start in Portland ($65,400)
  • Black Parent Initiative in Portland ($50,000)
  • Pioneer Relief Nursery in Pendleton ($20,000)

OCF continues to support children from low-income families, communities of color and rural areas impacted by COVID-19. By working in collaboration with communities, OCF remains responsive and engaged through recovery response efforts. We welcome additional support. Learn more.