On Friday afternoon, March 13, Bob Morris, president of the Community Foundation of Greenville, received two significant phone calls. One was from a member of the CFG board who was concerned that the impending closure of schools might prevent school-aged children from receiving food. The other was from Meghan Barp, president and CEO of United Way of Greenville County, seeking to discuss what could be done to support our community in the face of the novel coronavirus. Within a week, CFG contributed $100,000 to help launch the COVID-19 Community Relief Fund with other community partners.
Sharing this opportunity with our fundholders led to additional contributions of $165,000. This fund is supporting local nonprofit organizations working in areas identified as having high numbers of affected individuals, providing food, emergency shelter and small-business capital directed to the most vulnerable people in Greenville County.
The pandemic’s impact sparked a second crisis through its wide-ranging economic shock. Seeking to go beyond our first investment, CFG provided support to nonprofits across the county providing direct services including Greer Relief, Foothills Family Resources in Slater-Marietta and the Center for Community Services in Simpsonville.
Additional impact investments followed in short order. Through the Pearce and Frazier Endowments administered at CFG, Community Works received two $100,000 promissory notes (10-year, 0% interest). CFG provided support to the arts by making unrestricted gifts to The Warehouse Theatre and Artisphere. Mental health received support through Mental Health America of Greenville County and NAMI Greenville.
In 2019, the CFG board established, as part of a new five-year strategic plan, a priority to ensure that the organization’s operations and grantmaking reflect a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. In honor of George Floyd and those suffering racial injustices from individuals and institutions, the board of directors recently approved grants totaling $100,000 to five minority-led nonprofits in Greenville County.“We feel it is imperative to support minority-led nonprofits at the same level of funding that we have provided for COVID-19 relief,” said Morris. “We will continue to work collaboratively with our partners to create a place where all families thrive without fear.”
Grant recipients include: Urban League of the Upstate, Pleasant Valley Connection, Phillis Wheatley Community Center, Creative Advancement Center and New Jerusalem Baptist Church/Greer Community Outreach Center.
Our response since mid-March demonstrates CFG’s unique leadership and catalytic role in connecting resources to the evolving needs of our community. In his 21st year as president, Bob Morris continues to demonstrate his deep understanding of our community and his strength as a collaborator as the organization bridges philanthropy and purpose.
Further, our response demonstrates an intentional focus on all of Greenville County. The foundation’s vision is to make the county a thriving community where everyone can reach their full potential. The passion of the board and staff to make this vision our reality is certainly a driving force.
While we don’t know what we will face in the coming days and months, we quickly set in motion multiple ways to provide support as the crises arose. Just as action followed those initial phone calls, our responsiveness will continue as it has for 64 years.