The Lenny Zakim Fund (LZF) has announced $186,225 in grants from its COVID-19 Emergency Response and Recovery Fund to help grassroots nonprofits across Eastern Massachusetts address the needs of communities struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 Emergency Response and Recovery Fund was created to provide critical emergency funding to current and former LZF grant recipients to help maintain staff, services, and programs. Emergency funding included a priority focus on food insecurity, housing insecurity, health accessibility, undocumented immigrants and refugees, domestic violence, and criminal justice.
As communities throughout Massachusetts reel from the challenges of COVID-19, those who experience discrimination and financial insecurity in the “best of times” are now more vulnerable than ever. To-date, LZF has raised a total of $315,000 for its COVID-19 Emergency Response and Recovery Fund and will award at least two additional rounds of emergency funding to current and former grantees. Applications for the second round will be due on June 15, to be distributed by July 1.
The latest round of grants will go to 29 nonprofit agencies – two-thirds of which are led by people of color – and range from $2,000 to $10,000 in unrestricted funds. In March, LZF fast-tracked its annual grant-making process totaling $576,000 in grants to 56 community organizations who work at bridging inequities throughout the Commonwealth.
Executive Director Eric Esteves acknowledged LZF’s unique mission and values: “With these emergency grants, we’re helping nonprofits in our communities provide immediate relief to those who’ve been hit the hardest. The Lenny Zakim Fund has historically supported grassroots leaders operating “below the radar screen” who are focused on social, racial, and economic justice. This year marks LZF’s 25th anniversary and the pandemic’s stark disparities has made it clear that the issues these grassroots organizations work on are now even more urgent than ever before. The global pandemic and our new normal has laid bare the structural inequities that exist in our society.”
In announcing the grants, LZF board chair, Suzi Kaitz, shared, “LZF is living its values through these actions — with equity at the center of our responsiveness. Each proposal was considered with the seriousness of the moment and each request brought forth the true impact of the pandemic, the injustice of its wrath, and the pain it has wrought in the very communities LZF serves. We had to make difficult choices.”