Our Community During the Pandemic: OC Strong

Woman of strength

Our Community During the Pandemic: OC Strong

The global pandemic we are currently experiencing was certainly not on anyone’s radar screen. OK, maybe a few people had some foresight (see Krepinevich, Andrew: 7 Deadly Scenarios: A Military Futurist Explores the Changing Face of War in the 21st Centurypublished in 2009 – Scenario 3, Pandemic), but generally speaking, no one thought it would hit us now, hit this hard nor cause this much disruption across the entire country. And while we cannot do anything to unwind what happened, we now must deal with who, how, and what we will do in response. This is true across national, state and local jurisdictions.

In the case of the social sector – community-based organizations, grantmakers, philanthropists and related entities – local solutions are critical, especially early in the crisis.

And I am very proud to say that Orange County has been truly remarkable in this regard.

Shortly after this crisis became manifest, several local funders and organizations came together to craft a remarkable response to the imminent crisis facing our community-based organizations. Under the leadership of Orange County Grantmakers (OCG) – a group of local grantmaking organizations, the Orange County Community Foundation (OCCF), Charitable Ventures, and the St. Joseph Community Partnership Fund, a remarkable resource was developed to help our community.

The OC Community Resilience Fund was created as a way to strengthen and support community-based organizations that serve vulnerable communities most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of the fund is to raise and disburse through a rapid response format a significant amount of funds in a short time period. And that is exactly what is happening.

The OC Community Resilience Fund is a coordinated effort to focus resources, reduce duplicative efforts and maximize impact by focusing on the most immediate needs faced by community-based organizations operating in Orange County who have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Community-based organizations are experiencing a combination of negative factors that impact their ability to serve the community and may even threaten their existence, including significant revenue shortfalls, increased operating costs and a need to transform service delivery due to the social distancing, shelter in place and work from home situation.

Between March 12 and April 13, $3.2 million was raised for the fund. Three point two million dollars. In a couple of weeks. Funding came from grantmaking entities of all types and from both local and regional funders.

Contributions have ranged from small to large.

The OC Community Resilience Fund was created to provide three types of emergency funding:

Grants to community-based organizations facing a direct impact on their operations or finances as a result of COVID-19; Grants to organizations that provide (re-grant) financial support directly to individuals affected by COVID-19; and Grants to community clinics that provide services for COVID-19 treatment and prevention.

As for the rapid response aspect, well, it was indeed rapid. $1 million was disbursed the first week of April, to 36 organizations. An additional $1 million was disbursed on April 15 to more of our community-based organizations. Yes, two million dollars have already been allocated to our most impacted service providers. In two weeks.


Local funders were able to move so quickly to address this crisis in part because we have been in collaboration mode for many years. We at the Irvine Health Foundation are proud to be a founding member of Orange County Grantmakers and pleased to see this effort come together so quickly.

The process of collaboration can be many things: complicated, time-consuming, convoluted, etc. However, when a major crisis such as the one facing us now comes along, having had an established collaborative group already in place leads to a result such as the OC Resilience Fund. Without the Orange County Grantmakers organization, and the collaborative nature of funders in our community, developing and implementing the OC Resilience Fund would have taken longer to come to fruition.

But wait, there’s more. In addition to the above-mentioned fund, Orange County United Way has a Pandemic Relief Fund which has raised over $1 million in a few short weeks and has also already disbursed a large share of that funding to support individuals at risk of homelessness. And, the Anaheim Community Foundation has initiated a Rapid Response Grant Program which has already provided over $1 million to provide support in the City of Anaheim.

All the above programs are communicating and coordinating with one another in order to facilitate the most impactful response possible. It is truly wonderful to see so many positive things in this terrible time.

I have been working as a grantmaker in Orange County for almost 40 years. I have never been more proud of our sector than I am today.

We are indeed OC Strong.


Ed Kacic, President Irvine Health Foundation
April, 2020


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