The sweeping impacts of coronavirus on our Central Texas community were felt almost immediately, creating an urgent need across our five-county region to ensure the survival of our most vulnerable populations and the organizations that support them. Now amidst the virus’ sustained spread, as we work to stabilize and rebuild, we have uncovered additional needs alongside those initial urgent issues. Those needs are chiefly driven by the isolation experienced by our neighbors and a lack of access to basic necessities and health care services in our rural communities – and, unfortunately, are further compounded by a long-standing undercurrent of injustice and systemic racism. The distress is enormous and requires an innovative, thoughtful, multifaceted, and compassionate approach to recovery and an inevitable better future.
On September 28, we share the recipients of Phase II of our COVID-19 Recovery Fund – a group representing 116 organizations and nearly $6.5 million in grants to address the health and economic impacts of the pandemic, with 59% representing new relationships for the Foundation.
Although this is the final phase of funding for the Recovery Fund, we will continue our grantmaking efforts through a COVID-19 lens as our community assesses the long-term impact of the pandemic. We will continue to look for strategic opportunities to support Central Texas nonprofits to strengthen their capacity through innovation, scale their services and improve community outcomes, as well as utilize this moment to recognize the longer-term systemic issues that prevent members of our community from living healthier lives. Recipients of both Phase I and II of this Recovery Fund reflect our commitment to funding this vital work and will continue to support initiatives that advance health equity.
In Bastrop County, 73 of the 116 organizations funded in Phase II provide support in Bastrop County and received a total of $4.3 million. These organizations include:
- Ascension Catholic Church of Bastrop will use the grant to continue delivering parent education, peer support groups and outreach activities for isolated youth of color, as well as provide and expand to virtual services and community healing activities.
- Bastrop County will use funding to support residents in the rural parts of the county primarily related to COVID-19 relief, recovery and other population health efforts.
- The City of Smithville will use funding to provide 69 residential customers and three commercial customers with $750 to alleviate their financial burden.
- The Smithville Community Clinic will use the grant to provide socially distant counseling sessions, advocacy and peer support to its clients, as well as behavioral health services to homeless women living at The House of Ruth.
- Smithville Community Gardens (SCG) will use funds to begin a “Resiliency Gardening” program for the community. The grant will be used to purchase plants for SCG gardens and participants’ “Homegrown” gardens, as well as any tools needed to tend to their gardens. It will also fund the development of videos of gardening instructions and a Cooking Class series; a tool lending library for participants (and others) who may not have all the tools they need at home; and for professional services in marketing the program and SCG.
- The Smithville Volunteer Fire Department will use the grant for PPE and supplies needed to ensure the health and safety of the volunteers who risk their lives in emergency situations, as well as for informational materials for the general public and general operating funds.
- The Texas Center for Local Food will use the grant to provide weekly boxes of fresh vegetables and fruits to lower income families with students in Elgin ISD grades K-12, as well as peer-to-peer learning and sharing of vegetable identification, cooking techniques and recipes.
- The Friends of the Library in Smithville will use funds to launch six book club series, coordinated with SCC Behavioral Health Advocates, to connect participants with each other and with mental health services.