Getting COVID-19 Support Dollars to the Right Place

I want to share some Federation updates with you around our continued response to the COVID-19 crisis.

The Federation has been very clear since the start of this period of coronavirus that whatever resources we might be able to provide to our agencies will be dwarfed by investments from government. The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) has taken on the main leadership role in both advocating for the inclusion of nonprofits in the Payroll Protection Plan (PPP) program, that ran out of money yesterday, and in educating all Jewish organizations and synagogues on the process to apply for these loans that come with potential forgiveness. In fact, one of the many national JFNA webinars had over 4,000 participants!

Our Federation and nearly all of our eight beneficiary agencies have been approved for the PPP loans. In fact, our Federation received the proceeds from our own application in our bank account this morning. These dollars will have a huge impact in helping our institutions weather this storm, enabling them to continue to provide services to their students, clients and members for a period of time. JFNA has already launched an effort to lobby for an additional $250 Billion to be added to the PPP fund. We in Pittsburgh will continue to advocate for it so that other communities that did not make it into this first tranche get into the second. That is what being part of a collective is all about. This is part of how we live the dictum of “Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh laZeH – Every Jew is Responsible One for the Other”.

Beyond the PPP loans, to date, our Federation has secured over $1.6 Million in direct COVID-19 support, coming from a reallocation of existing Federation dollars and additional donations from some very generous donors. We have already allocated and distributed over $540,000 of that to specific programs and initiatives, including:

  1. the purchase of additional food and hiring of additional staff at the Squirrel Hill Food Pantry
  2. the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and disposable tableware for the Jewish Association on Aging
  3. the addition of dollars to grant/loan pools directly allocated to individuals through Jewish Family Assistance Fund, SOS Pittsburgh and Hebrew Free Loan

In addition to the above, some dollars have gone to our overseas partners, the Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, to enable them to provide their lifesaving services. We continue to raise dollars over and above the 2020 Community Campaign to support these types of specific needs while completely focused on bringing the 2020 Community Campaign, never more needed, to a successful close.

The weeks, months and potentially years ahead will see additional needs emerging. Our planning staff and volunteers are already working hard on thinking through those possibilities and our solutions.

While this situation is very different than what our community experienced after the horrible shooting at the Tree of Life building, both jarring experiences show how important a collective and communal approach is in responding to disruption and pain. We are always stronger together.

Shabbat Shalom.

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