Published On: March 19th, 2020

March 19, 2020 | Cambridge, MA

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the Cambridge Community Foundation, in partnership with our generous donors, the City of Cambridge, and locallybased companiesis launching two new emergency relief funds to help families and individuals deal with the impact of COVID-19. The Cambridge COVID-19 Emergency Fund will work with our dedicated nonprofits to reach deeply into the community to support vulnerable populations while also providing direct financial assistance to individuals and families. The Cambridge Artist Relief Fund will support individual artists, musicians, and local arts and cultural organizations threatened by lost income. Both funds will assist Cambridge residents, as well as those who may live elsewhere, but whose livelihood is tied to our city. 

Collectively, these two new efforts will, at the onset, infuse more than $350,000 into the community. [Update: As of April 14, the funds have raised over $725,000.] The funds provide grants of up to $10,000 for nonprofits serving the city’s most vulnerable populations and grants of up to $1,000 for individuals and families facing COVID-19related hardship, until the funds are depleted. Over the next six months, applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis with the aim of distributing funds as soon as possible. In parallel, the Foundation also plans to distribute more than $400,000 in grants to over 50 nonprofitnext month as part of its regular spring grantmaking cycle. 

“The Cambridge Community Foundation and our donors follow century-old mandate to protect the wellbeing of the city and our residents, and today, the situation demands that we take swift and bold action,” said Geeta Pradhan, president of the Cambridge Community Foundation. “In the wake of economic uncertainty, the Foundation and its partners are putting forward funds to address urgent needs in our community. We call on our city’s stable businesses and organizations and concerned residents to join us by contributing funds to support the individuals and organizations hardesthit by the COVID-19 pandemic.”  

Strict social distancing guidelines to stem the spread of the virus in Cambridge resulted in cancellations and closures with devastating ripple effects for nonprofits, businesses, and workers. Nonprofits canceled critical fundraising events further straining their resources. Universities shifted to remote online learning reducing the city’s overall population and withdrawing support for many small businessesRestrictions on group gatherings in organizations, restaurants, and bars have resulted in lost wages for workers throughout the city. There remains great deal of uncertainty across all sectors and the most vulnerable—the elderly, laidoff workers, the self-employed, trades people, hourly workersrestaurant staff, and artists and musicians already struggling—are the hardest hit. 

“Cambridge is a unique city in that there are so many concurrent efforts by community members, organizations and government to take care of our residents. The City of Cambridge is making every effort to ensure that as many resources as possible are effectively deployed, including the launch of the Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund, but no one fund can do it all,” said Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui. “These are trying times and a moment when we need to work together to marshal all our resources and we’re grateful for the Cambridge Community Foundation’s help in swiftly filling gaps for nonprofits and residents in crisis.” 

“Google Cambridge and are proud to join this effort, continuing our longstanding practice of working with local partners to alleviate challenges in this city,” said Liz Schwab, head of external affairs for Google. “We appreciate Mayor Siddiqui and the Cambridge Community Foundation’s leadership during this unprecedented time and hope this fund provides another way for people to receive the support they need. It’s inspiring to see leadership across all sectors, public and private, raising their hands to help the most vulnerable in our community. Right now, community is more important than ever, and this collective effort shows that ours is a powerful one.” 

“By providing financial assistance to artists and arts organizations over the next several months, the Cambridge Artist Relief Fund seeks to alleviate the impacts of this lost income, and help our arts community get back on its feet,” said Vice-Mayor Alanna Mallon, who was Chair of the Mayor’s Arts Task Force and has been a thought partner on assessing and addressing needs in the sector. “It is at times like these that I am reminded of a favorite Cambridge saying, one city, one family, and this partnership between the City, corporate leaders, and non-profit organizations to protect our arts community truly embodies that statement.” 

“We’re honored to be partnering with the Cambridge Community Foundation and the City of Cambridge to help launch the Cambridge Artist Relief Fund,” said Stephen R. Karp, Chairman of New England Development. “Providing much needed relief to the Cambridge creative community is vital during these extremely challenging times. We hope that other firms and individuals will join us and contribute to this new Fund. “  

The Foundation and its donors seek to fill gaps in important efforts already underway at the city, state, and federal levels by deploying funds to complement efforts that allow us to reach those most in need.  

The Cambridge COVID-19 Emergency Fund 

With the mounting effects of the pandemic, it is paramount that emergency funds get deployed to the people who need them the most when they are needed the most. The Foundation has directed $50,000 into the new Cambridge COVID-19 Emergency Fund, and Rosemarie and Steve Johnson and another generous donor have together contributed an additional $50,000. Google Cambridge and has pledged an additional $100,000. One hundred percent of donations go to Cambridge families, residents, workers, and nonprofits in need.

As the Foundation adds to the Fund through Cambridge Community Foundation in the community, it will begin the immediate assessment of applications and deploy grants to Cambridge residents, nonprofits, and small businesses experiencing financial hardship. Applicants can submit materials beginning Monday, March 23, and the Foundation will accept applications on a rolling basis. These are one-time grants ranging from $200 to $1,000 for individuals and small businesses. In addition, grants of up to $10,000 will be awarded to nonprofits that directly work with low-income populations and that have the capacity to make money transfers to the constituents they serve. Applicants must be Cambridge residents or those who rely on Cambridge sources for their livelihood, organizations, or small businesses with demonstrated loss of opportunity or income. 

For eligibility and to apply go to 

The Cambridge Artist Relief Fund 

The COVID-19 pandemic has put staggering pressure on the already struggling arts and culture sector in Cambridge, with artists and arts and cultural organizations among the first to feel the financial impacts. The Cambridge Community Foundation and its partners, most notably New England Development, and other donors are addressing thurgent need of arts and culture nonprofits, artists, and performers by taking immediate action to deploy money for immediate needs through the Cambridge Artist Relief Fund. The Foundation is grateful to the City of Cambridge and the Cambridge Arts Council for its thought partnership in developing this fund.  

The Foundation is able to move swiftly with the support of New England Development, who has matched the initial $25,000seedinvestment from the Cambridge Community Foundation. The Foundation calls on its donor community to donate online. One hundred percent of donations go to Cambridge artists and arts organizations in need. 

Rosemarie and Steve Johnson, long-time Foundation donors, have also pledged an additional $25,000. With sincere gratitude for the leadership of the City of Cambridge and the Cambridge Arts Council on this issue, we are proud to also include the City of Cambridge as a $75,000 donor to this effort. The Cambridge Artist Relief Fund will continue to accept contributions on an ongoing basis.  

Starting today, March 19, the Foundation will accept applications on a rolling basis and provide grants of up to $1,000 (with grants ranging from $200 to $1,000) to artists and arts and cultural organizations facing a financial crisis. A limited number of grants of up to $5,000 will be made available to Cambridge arts organizations that employ current artists and performers and/or train future ones. 

For eligibility and to apply go  

For more information, contact Lauren Marshall, Director of Marketing and Civic Engagement[email protected] or 617-872-6543 (cell). 

About the Cambridge Community Foundation: Since 1916, the Cambridge Community Foundation has been built, guided, and funded by Cambridge residents, and as an independent civic leader, brings together neighborhoods, organizations, and economic sectors to create a more diverse, inclusive, and vibrant city for all. The Foundation is the local giving platform for Cambridge, supporting our city’s shared prosperity, social equity, and cultural richness. The Foundation is a convener and catalyst for transformative change in Cambridge, supporting equity and opportunity in the city through civic leadership, grantmaking, and collective giving in partnership with generous donors from the community. The Foundation identifies emerging and critical needs, convenes all sectors of the city, and directs resources where they can make the greatest difference.