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BBCF announces launch of COVID-19 Response Fund

In response to the growing economic crisis surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak in the state, which has forced numerous businesses to close, layoff staff or dramatically reduce hours, the Black Belt Community Foundation (BBCF) announced Friday that it is launching a COVID-19 Response Fund “to help as many regional organizations and communities as possible,” according to a press release.

The organization has adopted a staff-wide effort to conduct “daily pandemic assessments” to understand the impact the outbreak is having on the Black Belt.

The information collected from the group’s 12-county service area is then used to find out what the needs are in each community and for partner organizations in the area that might need assistance with outreach efforts.

“It’s early on right now, but I can tell you that COVID-19 has affected all of our operations across the board,” said BBCF President Felecia Lucky in the press release. “Whether it is our Head Start program, community granting or the launch phase for the 2020 Census outreach, we have had to rapidly reconfigure working patterns. At this phase, we are working hard to reach out to our local partners, community associates, grantees, Head Start families and community leadership to make assessments of where help is needed the most. The information and resource sharing that is now happening is extremely useful and also inspiring to see how many people are proactively jumping into action. There are helpers out there everywhere ands we are trying to connect with them for a broader, more coordinated effort whenever possible.”

Currently, there are two ways to bolster the BBCF’s effort – organizations or community leaders looking to partner for greater outreach capabilities should contact BBCF directly via email at info@blackbeltfound.org; individual donors can contribute to the fund by visiting the group’s website at www.blackbeltfound.org.

“We are hoping for the best, but it may not be long before people start noticing that their neighbors need help,” Lucky said. “This is something affecting us all and it looks like it is going to be expensive. As we narrow the lens on where the need is going to be the most, like people that are displaced, out of work or families just trying to keep food on the table, we will be able to properly target the funds.”

Lucky noted that she has been inspired by the spontaneous efforts of individuals across the region that are stepping up to serve.

“Just look at our Head Start centers,” Lucky said. “Of course they are not able to hold classes in this environment, but our team of staff and teachers there have been immediately jumping into action to survey the hundreds of families of the students from the Black Belt to figure out how the home is affected now, what is going on with childcare and will there be food on the table. We are assessing needs as quickly as possible, but we want to find the helpers out there who doing the same and in need of help themselves.”