Spotlight on COVID-19 Response

Responding Together

May 2020


With new funds and strong partnerships with donors, nonprofits, philanthropies and other agencies, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation has joined the regional response to COVID-19 in full force.

In each of the four counties we serve, we have established funds with coalitions of business, government and local leaders to rapidly move resources to trusted nonprofits that have experience supporting communities and families in crisis.

Since immediate needs are so acute, our funds are focused on making grants for emergency support such as food, health and mental health services, and child care. We are also working now in close collaboration with funder and nonprofit groups to anticipate future needs as our vital nonprofits seek support to recover and remain resilient.

Berkshire County

Northeast Dutchess County

Columbia County

Northwest Litchfield County


Berkshire County

Overview: Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and Berkshire United Way have awarded over 80 grants from the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund for Berkshire County, a joint effort with Northern Berkshire United Way and Williamstown Community Chest to raise new resources in support of community-based organizations at the frontlines of the coronavirus outbreak. A coalition of philanthropic organizations, business partners and generous individuals worked quickly to establish the fund on March 19.

The fund is providing flexible resources to nonprofit organizations working with communities who are disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus and the economic consequences of this outbreak. Grants are intended to help frontline human services organizations with deep roots in the community and strong experience working with vulnerable populations.

The organizations receiving grants are dispersed across Berkshire County and work to support children and low-income families, communities of color and immigrants, seniors, and people with mental illness and addiction disorders, among others. A collaborative team of staff from the four lead partners is reviewing and awarding grants on a rolling basis during the crisis as funding permits. Through our Neighbor-to-Neighbor Fund, we have made an additional $186,000 in grants to 13 partner organizations who are providing grants of up to $1,000 to residents in economic distress. 

Grantee Spotlight: With branches and camps at six locations, Berkshire Family YMCA builds healthy minds, bodies and spirits. A grant from this fund is helping the Pittsfield and North Adams locations offer safe, consistent child care sites for emergency workers who are responding to the pandemic. One child whose mother is a hospital worker and father a policeman arrived in tears the first day the program opened. At pick up that afternoon, she asked her mom if she could return the next day. “This is why we do what we do,” says a YMCA staffer.

How to Give: Gifts to the fund can be made through the Berkshire United Way website.

Funding Partners: We are grateful to each of the 400-plus individual, corporate and foundation donors who have contributed to the fund, including more than $500,000 from BTCF donor advised funds and the Barr Foundation, which contributed $250,000. A list of the fund’s generous partners can be found here.  


Columbia County

Overview: Berkshire Taconic launched the Columbia County COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund on March 30 to provide flexible resources to nonprofit organizations serving residents feeling the greatest impact of the coronavirus pandemic. To date, the fund has awarded 19 grants.

The organizations receiving grants are located across Columbia County and work to support children and low-income or newly vulnerable families, seniors and immigrants, among others, through services such as food pantries, health care and conflict resolution.

BTCF staff and local residents, including volunteer members of BTCF’s Fund for Columbia County committee, are reviewing and awarding grants on a rolling basis during the crisis as funding permits. Award amounts vary based on organizational capacity, scope of services, community needs and total resources available.

In partnership with Columbia Economic Development Corporation, as well as the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce and the Hudson Business Coalition, BTCF has also established the Columbia County Business Continuity Fund. It has provided one-time cash grants to small businesses in Hudson and town centers with fewer than 10 full-time employees and less than $1 million in annual revenue. An independent, volunteer committee of local business leaders reviewed and rated each application based on these criteria. The committee had representation from throughout the county and from women- and minority-run businesses. They awarded $190,000 to 92 small businesses.

Finally, two Neighbor-to-Neighbor partners have distributed an additional $15,000 to residents in need. 

Grantee Spotlight: Columbia County Sanctuary Movement is a grassroots and largely volunteer organization that supports immigrant rights through mutual aid and rapid response programs. “As the backbone of Columbia County’s service economy, immigrants were the first to lose their jobs as restaurants shut down,” the group noted in its grant application. With its funding, CCSM is providing financial support of up to $300 per household to help meet basic needs, including food, housing and medicine.

How to Give: Read about our other grantees and consider making a gift on this page.

Funding Partners: Donors with BTCF funds have provided nearly $150,000 in gifts to support these funds, along with $40,000 from our Fund for Columbia County and major gifts from the Mundy/Coan Charitable Fund and the Henry L. Kimelman Foundation. Learn more about our partners here.


Northeast Dutchess County

Overview: Berkshire Taconic and its Northeast Dutchess Fund are focused on helping individuals and families in crisis in our 11 towns, villages and hamlets of northeast Dutchess County, including an increasing number of residents who are experiencing sudden economic distress due to the pandemic.

Our Neighbor-to-Neighbor Fund has awarded $30,000 to trusted social workers at Grace Immigrant Outreach, the North East Community Center and the Community Action Partnership for Dutchess County (Dutchess CAP). They are using these resources to help their clients buy meals, pay rent and cover medical bills.

A generous donor's significant new gift will soon bring immediate relief to many residents facing extreme financial hardship, including those who may not be eligible for government assistance. Our provider partners are preparing for additional waves of requests as business closures continue and newly unemployed residents reach out for support.

Grantee Spotlight: Our three Neighbor-to-Neighbor nonprofit partners have each seen an increase in northeast Dutchess residents in economic distress since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In just one day, client advocates with Grace Immigrant Outreach met with 12 immigrant families about their needs for rent and utility assistance. Dutchess CAP has distributed 10 to 12 additional food packages each week. “We’re seeing tiers of people from week to week, above and beyond what we normally do,” said Christine Sergent, executive director of NECC. “We’re seeing people who aren't normally asking for help.”

How to Give: Gifts can be made to the Neighbor-to-Neighbor Fund for Northeast Dutchess County.

Funding Partners: We thank the individuals and foundations who have supported our work in northeast Dutchess County, including the significant gift of our generous donor. Members of our Northeast Dutchess Fund committee have secured over 30 gifts from the community. As part of their regular grantmaking cycle, they are currently reviewing applications that address the critical needs of nonprofits due to COVID-19 and will award additional grants shortly.


Northwest Litchfield County

Overview: Berkshire Taconic and its Northwest Corner Fund launched the Northwest Corner COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund to deploy flexible resources through trusted social service providers and nonprofits to residents in our nine towns who are impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

From late March to mid-April, we awarded rapid response grants to 20 nonprofits working directly with vulnerable residents, including lower-income families, the elderly, veterans, immigrants, people experiencing homelessness, communities of color, and those who are unemployed or have reduced hours due to the pandemic.

These organizations are helping individuals and families cover the costs of essential basic needs, including food, utilities, rent, diapers, child-care tuition payments, medical supplies and virtual access to counseling services.

We plan to award an additional $35,000 during the second round of competitive grantmaking, which will help nonprofits deal with the adverse economic impact of the pandemic. Application are due on May 15. Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation—our partner in this work—is matching BTCF's grants in both rounds of this process, doubling the awards for these organizations.

In addition, the fund has distributed $37,000 to trusted Neighbor-to-Neighbor social service agencies in northwest Litchfield County. Staff there are directing funds for food, rent, utilities, health services and other emergency needs to local individuals and families who are struggling during this crisis. What’s more, thanks to a group of generous donors, 35 student families in the Region One School District received $100 grocery cards during spring break, when the district did not deliver meals.

Grantee Spotlight: EdAdvance promotes the success of our school districts and communities by providing educational and other related services. It received two rapid response grants from Berkshire Taconic: one to provide food and assistance with essential basic needs for vulnerable families (including low-income and homeless residents, and immigrants and communities of color) and another to offset costs incurred during this crisis by a network of local family child-care providers and the families they serve. Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation matched both grants.

“We are so grateful for this support, as it is our goal to make sure children and their families remain connected to the services and assistance they so desperately need during this period,” said Michelle Anderson, director of early childhood and family programs at EdAdvance. “Many child care centers and family child care homes are also struggling during this time, and we are actively working to assist them and the children and families they serve in our region.”  

How to Give: Read about our other grantees and consider making a gift on this page.

Funding Partners: A generous $50,000 anonymous matching gift from a BTCF donor advised fund helped establish the emergency fund. Berkshire Taconic's Northwest Corner Fund contributed $50,000, and through its committee's leadership nearly 70 residents in our towns have donated to this effort. The Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation is our fundraising and grantmaking partner.