Stuart Comstock-Gay

Stuart Comstock-Gay, President and CEO of the Delaware Community Foundation

Some of the organizations that need the most assistance right now as Delaware copes with the coronavirus pandemic are the ones already doing some of the best work in the community.

So the Delaware Community Foundation (DCF) joined with Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Advancement (DANA), Philanthropy Delaware (PD) and United Way of Delaware (UWDE) to establish a new fund that will address those needs.

"I think you could be looking at food banks, you could be looking at places like Good Will that's employing a lot of people, you could be looking at community organizations. You could also be looking at arts organizations that are struggling," said DCF President and CEO Stuart Comstock-Gay. "We'll be looking at the overall infrastructure for who provides support in our community and making sure they can not only provide service, but that they're going to be sustainable in the long term. One of the big concerns we all have is what happens to our nonprofit infrastructure as this thing goes on, and this fund is intended to make sure it's still there."

Comstock-Gay said the groups already distribute between $15 to $20 million in grants and scholarships each year, but this is a new effort directly focused on groups that help the community but find themselves struggling in response to COVID-19. 

After announcing the establishment of the funds, he said they've already seen support from other philanthropic efforts in the region.

"The project...is about emerging and long-term needs for non-profits who are trying to address critical needs in the community. Monies are coming into that fund, and today the Longwood Foundation announced that they're putting $1 million in to get that fund really up and going and start getting money out into the community," Comstock-Gay said. "The Delaware Community Foundation is an aggregation of 1,100 funds all designed to serve the community in some way or another. This is a new fund that is being established with contributions from foundations and businesses and individuals to address this particular need."

He pointed to the Easterseals as an example of an organization Delaware would need to still have around even after it finds itself emerging from the troubled times it, like the rest of the world, finds itself in now. 

"We need the Easterseals both to be able to do their work today because they are so important but also to have enough infrastructure and support ready so that, in six months, and 12 months, and 12 years, they're still in place for us," he said. 

The groups are only looking to do what everyone should be doing right now, he said. 

"I think it's important that everybody can contribute to this work in one way or another, whether it's helping your neighbor, making sure they have groceries or watching out for them. Volunteering. Still making contributions. All of us have a role to play, all of us have a role to knit the fabric of our community together and hold on to what we care about now to make sure when we come out of this, we're in a strong place," said Comstock-Gay. "This fund is a particular approach with particular resources, and we just want to step up and play our role too."

Businesses, organizations, and individuals looking to contribute to the "collective response" should visit Delaware Does More: COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund at United Way or the Delaware COVID-19 Strategic Response Fund at the DCF. While resources are polled, the Rapid Response Fund will focus on immediate needs, the Strategic Response Fund will look at infrastructure maintenance long-term.