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New community-led pooled fund will support COVID-19 education and vaccine access

Thursday, April 8, 2021

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The COVID-19 Prevention & Response Fund will employ a rapid response, trust-based philanthropy model, prioritizing communities hardest hit by the pandemic

Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia in collaboration with funders across the region is launching the new COVID-19 Prevention & Response Fund, a community-led effort to invest in neighborhood-based solutions related to COVID-19 and equity imbalances exacerbated by the pandemic.

A group of 15 grassroots representatives living and working in communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19 are serving as Community Investment Advisors (complete list of names included below). In this participatory funding model, these advisors will help set priorities, establish fund eligibility and criteria, and shape a streamlined grant process. Each Community Investment Advisor will receive a stipend for his/her/their time, and make key decisions on how dollars are allocated.

Eliezer Vila, Norris Square Community Alliance, Kensington said, "As community investment advisors, we can support economically disadvantaged neighborhoods as COVID-19 has increased the day to day struggles they faced. To overcome this health crisis, it  is imperative to start off investing in the most vulnerable communities, and I am glad to be part of many voices leading this change.”  

In announcing the new fund, Philanthropy Network president Sidney R. Hargro said, “While funding for COVID-19 relief has diminished over time, we know the challenges continue to mount. Grassroots community leaders are telling us what they need to address the ongoing impact of the pandemic in their neighborhoods, and this fund gives them the power to direct resources where they can do the most good.”

The Fund ultimately seeks to increase rates of vaccinations in communities hardest hit by the pandemic and address the challenges exacerbated as a result of the pandemic. Funding will prioritize specific communities in Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties whose populations have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, and will support in-depth COVID-19 education; local efforts to promote vaccine access; physical and mental health; and strategic community outreach and marketing. Grants will be up to $25,000.

Joe Pyle, president of the Scattergood Foundation, which is a lead donor to the fund, said, “Philadelphia's public health infrastructure has largely left low-income, Black, Latinx, and Asian communities behind in their COVID-19 prevention and response efforts. In our role as funders, it is critical that our action prioritizes community-driven, trust-based approaches that will bridge the access gap."

In addition to Scattergood Foundation, the COVID-19 Prevention & Response Fund is supported by: Independence Public Media Foundation; Barra Foundation; The Patricia Kind Family Foundation; United Way Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey; Brandywine Health Foundation; Comcast NBCUniversal; The Hummingbird Foundation; William Penn Foundation; VNA Foundation of Greater North Penn, Philadelphia Foundation and The Horner Foundation. The pooled fund seeks to raise a total of $3.45 million to be distributed on a rolling basis over the next 18 to 24 months.

“It is important to support communities most impacted by COVID-19 to lead the design of this fund by identifying areas of greatest opportunity and need,” said Janet Haas, M.D., board chair of the William Penn Foundation.  

Beyond grant dollars, Philanthropy Network has also partnered with the City of Philadelphia’s Philly Counts office, which will use the community engagement model developed for the 2020 Census to provide COVID-19 vaccination outreach and support in Philadelphia’s most vulnerable neighborhoods. Through its Vaccine Information Champions and Neighborhood Ambassadors, Philly Counts will activate a network of trusted messengers who will share critical information and develop neighborhood plans to increase uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine through a neighbor-to-neighbor strategy.

“It is important that our outreach begins with and centers the neighborhood leaders and community-based organizations that are trusted and have been doing this work for many years. Providing funding for this important work is a clear value statement and an important step in increasing equitable distribution of the vaccine,” said Stephanie Reid, Executive Director of Philly Counts.

Applications for the COVID-19 Prevention & Response Fund open April 8, 2021. For further details, visit

Community Investment Advisors

Our deep appreciation to these community members who are leading the COVID-19 Prevention & Response Fund:

  • Pastor Aldo Siahaan (South Philadelphia)
  • Aleasha Redden-Revell (southern end of Delaware County)
  • Ana Santoyo (Norristown)
  • Ann M. Doley (Germantown)
  • Bill Kaplan (Upper Darby)
  • Eliezer Vila, Norris Square Community Alliance (Kensington)
  • Gilberto Gonzalez, Community College of Philadelphia (Kensington/North Philadelphia)
  • Jacqueline Williams, LA21 CDC (West Philadelphia)              
  • Joe Podsiedlak (Tacony)                      
  • John Johnson III  (Chester)                 
  • Marina Lipkovskaya, New World Association (Far Northeast Philadelphia)
  • Marypat Tracy, Supportive Older Women's Network (SOWN) (North and West Philadelphia)           
  • Minnie McNeil, WC Atkinson Memorial Community Services Center (Coatesville)
  • Sonya Carroll, Bebashi Transition to Hope (North Philadelphia)
  • Yvonne Platts, Norristown New Life (Norristown)

About Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia

Philanthropy Network connects, convenes, and leads the region’s funders to amplify the power of philanthropy as a catalyst for collective action, effective giving and positive change in Greater Philadelphia, and to advance our region’s legacy as a hub for invention and innovation.