Brandywine Health Foundation Responds to Public Health Crisis

On March 30, 2020

In response to the varied, immediate and long-term challenges facing the community due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, the Brandywine Health Foundation has created a $350,000 Healthcare and Economic Relief Fund.

The impact of the COVID- 19 pandemic brings clearly into focus the physical vulnerability of us all particularly, older residents, disabled populations, low income earners and those suffering with chronic conditions. In addition, the economic hardship created by the close of businesses and the loss of employment opportunities for the 80 percent of Americans who survive from paycheck to paycheck has the potential for a devastating impact.

Coatesville, the only city in Chester County, is home to more than 13,000 residents who for the last 30 years have been economically left behind. Over 42 percent are renters and the median household income is under $40,000. With many barely surviving on wages from vulnerable temporary jobs and day work, the unemployment rate is a staggering 9 percent. With COVID-19 that rate is expected to more than double.

Acknowledging the new reality of the impact of COVID- 19 coupled with the fact that City of Coatesville residents have been living on the margins far too long, required the Foundation to reexamine how it can best serve the community during this as well as any future health crisis. Its philanthropic role must be responsive and nimble to meet the immediate, interim and long-term needs of the community. As a responsive philanthropic organization, the immediate priority is to identify and positively impact the emergent health and economic needs of our community. The establishment of the Healthcare and Economic Relief Fund creates a pathway that provides for rapid identification of community needs that support essential health, safety and sanitation supplies and equipment. The fund will also support community- based organizations providing basic need services such as rent, utility assistance and food. Lastly, BHF is also mindful of the social isolation and mental stress the COVID-19 outbreak will cause, therefore the fund will support new ways to deliver social and behavioral health services.

In support of the health and welfare of this community, last week, BHF canceled plans to hold its annual Garden Party, which raises funds each year in support of its continued operation. BHF is inspired by the thoughtful and generous decision made by this year’s Garden Party sponsors to donate their contributions to the new Healthcare and Economic Relief Fund. In addition, dozens of individuals throughout Chester County have already contributed giving the foundation a total of $50,000 to initiate the Foundation’s first match commitment of $50,000. This first round of funds will allow BHF to deploy a total of $100,000 of rapid response grants. Grants will be distributed
onarollingbasis and range from approximately $5,000 to $15,000 each. Donations received will be administered and distributed by BHF in collaboration with the Chester County Health Department, Health and Human Services and Community Economic Development Departments and other local and regional funders to ensure the fund targets unmet community needs. An additional $125,000 in gifts will be matched by BHF to support another round of funds to take place after the initial round and when emergent needs of the community are met. In total the new Healthcare and Economic Relief Fund will ultimately raise and deploy $350,000.

In these trying times BHF understands the concerns of the donors and investors and commits to the transparent administration of funds. With oversight from BHF Board of Directors, the foundation will ensure that the funding decisions made by its staff (president and CEO and a subset of the Grantmaking Committee) adhere to IRS and fiscal policies and procedures.

By providing even a small donation, you can help increase the amount of funds disseminated immediately in the Greater Coatesville community to minimize the health and economic hardship and disruption of safety net services. 100 percent of your contribution will be put to work right away– BHF will not take any administrative fees from your generous gift. BHF cannot think of a more important time to come together to support our community and are grateful for your continued commitment to the health and well-being of Greater Coatesville.