CFNIL Response to COVID-19

The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois has kept faith with its mission to serve as a catalyst for giving in order to attract, preserve, and grow an endowment for the current and future needs of the people of Northern Illinois for more than 65 years. This uneasy time facing a global pandemic is no different; in fact, it is the foresight and generosity of past generations that allows CFNIL to respond now with both targeted and general support for the challenges facing our local communities.

To date, this support includes $277,000 toward the ongoing local COVID-19 response and a commitment to flexibility and responsiveness for current and future grantees:

  • Natural Disaster Assistance Fund: This fund was established in 2008 to assist individuals and families living in Winnebago County with disaster-related expenses. Disbursements are available from the fund for the COVID-19 response thanks to a joint declaration of need from the Mayor of Rockford and the Winnebago County Board Chair. CFNIL distributed $30,000 from the fund in March and will distribute an additional $40,000 in early May.
  • 815 Community Response Team: CFNIL joined United Way of Rock River Valley and other funders and community partners in the new coalition known as the 815 Community Response Team (815CRT). 815CRT works with nonprofits to identify needs and make funds available for both immediate, emergency needs, as well as ongoing needs during and after the pandemic. CFNIL’s Board of Trustees has committed:
    • $57,000 for immediate, emergency needs which will be distributed in conjunction with the 815CRT Grants Committee, of which CFNIL is a member.
    • $150,000 to respond to ongoing needs of nonprofit organizations in concert with 815CRT partners and other funders.
  • Flexibility and Responsiveness for Current Grantees: Nearly 70 organizations received over $1.4 million in CFNIL’s 2019 Community Grants cycle. For many of these grantees, the programs and projects that were funded have been disrupted by COVID-19. CFNIL staff and trustees have worked to provide flexible options, including adjusting event timing, extending deadlines, and adjusting outcomes or results. CFNIL staff maintain ongoing conversations with our grantees to ensure the grant dollars will be used for the benefit of the organization and our community, even if that use looks different than the original proposal.
  • Commitment to Ongoing Grantmaking: As the impacts of the pandemic continue to unfold, CFNIL will continue to operate our grant programs and distribute grants from donor advised and donor designated endowments. CFNIL uses a rolling 12-quarter average to determine available to grant allocations, which ensures that grantmaking in the near-term will provide virtually the same level of funding for our community as last year. CFNIL’s Board of Trustees and its staff are considering carefully what procedural changes may be necessary during the upcoming Community Grants Program cycle this fall.

Since our inception CFNIL has worked with the long game in mind; we’re committed to being a stable and growing resource, to honor the intent and generosity of thousands of donors over more than half a century, and to connect the results of that past generosity to current needs. CFNIL Trustees will continue to exercise careful stewardship of every fund and thoughtful oversight in grantmaking. The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois stands ready to support the people and places of our region through the known challenges of today and the unknown needs of tomorrow.

View More Information about the Local COVID-19 Response from CFNIL and Other Partners

CFNIL’s Board of Trustees approved the following actions to help you implement your charitable activities in a way that reflects the realities of the COVID-19 health crisis:

  1. Many of you have had to cancel or postpone CFNIL-funded events and programming. We will work with you as you develop new timelines.
  2. In some cases, you may have had to cancel your event this year but intend to hold the event next year. You can hold this year’s grant funding for next year’s event.
  3. Schedule changes may push the completion of your funded activities past the reporting deadline of March 1, 2021. Please request a deadline extension so that you can complete your funded charitable activity without undue strain.
  4. We recognize that the COVID-19 crisis has or will impact the targets you outlined in your original application. We encourage amendment requests to adjust your outcomes to reflect the reality of the current situation.
  5. We also realize that none of the above options may adequately address the specific impact of COVID-19 on your funded activities. If this is the case, please contact us so we can discuss the best way to move forward.

If you haven’t already, please send James Patterson (jpatterson@cfnil.org) a quick email to let us know if your funded activity has been impacted by the crisis and what adjustments you may need. This doesn’t need to be very long or detailed; you have more pressing concerns than a single grant right now.

Given that none of us know when the Stay-at-Home order will be lifted and when large groups may gather again, it may be too early to set dates for rescheduled activities. We aren’t asking you to reschedule immediately. Once you can begin planning again, please let James know (jpatterson@cfnil.org).

Commitment to Ongoing Grantmaking: As the impacts of the pandemic continue to unfold, CFNIL will continue to operate our grant programs and distribute grants from donor advised and donor designated endowments. CFNIL uses a rolling 12-quarter average to determine available to grant allocations, which ensures that grantmaking in the near-term will provide virtually the same level of funding for our community as last year. CFNIL’s Board of Trustees and its staff are considering carefully what procedural changes may be necessary during the upcoming Community Grants Program cycle this fall.

In the meantime, nonprofits seeking funding and other support during the COVID-19 pandemic will find a host of information and resources via the 815 Community Response Team (815CRT) website. The "For Nonprofits" page details specific local funding sources, provides information and links to a host of state/federal funding opportunities, and includes an expansive curated list of resources for all areas of nonprofit operations. 

On March 27, the President signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act which included certain provisions that impact charitable giving. Learn more about the provisions here.

Donate to the Local COVID-19 Response

We encourage those who are able to support the local COVID-19 response by donating to the COVID-19 Emerging Needs Fund, administered by United Way of Rock River Valley. This fund will support the needs of residents and their children to help alleviate hardships they may be experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about how this fund will support needs in northern Illinois.

There are several ways to donate to the Emerging Needs Fund:

Natural Disaster Assistance & Family Crisis Funds: Emergency assistance for individuals and families residing in Winnebago County. Service Providers complete applications on behalf of the individual/family and submit to the City of Rockford Human Services Department. View Natural Disaster Assistance Fund GuidelinesView Family Crisis Fund Guidelines. Please contact Chris Greenwood to learn more and request applications:
Chris Greenwood, Community Programs Manager, City of Rockford | 779-348-7569 | christopher.greenwood@rockfordil.gov

Child care and other local services
There are local agencies offering child care support and services during the COVID-19 crisis. They are listed below, along with the specifics on their availability.

  • YMCA — Available to first responders and medical providers. Call 815-489-1252.

  • Mother House Crisis Nursery — Opening Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., for parents to get essential items like diapers, food, etc. Call 815-962-4858.

  • YSN — Open; emergency teen shelters running as usual, crisis intervention running as usual. Call 815-986-1947.

  • St. Elizabeth's — Pantry open. Call 815-969-6526.

  • DOC - The Kid's Place I & II — Open to families with court cases only.

  • Trinity Day Care — Open to current families only. No new enrollments. Call 815-986-5437.

  • Circles of Learning Day Care — Open with temporary hours of operation to current families only. Effective March 19 through March 30, hours of operation are 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. No new enrollments. Call 815-226-8715.

Food resources
Northern Illinois Food Bank is offering support, including a list of the food pantries and programs nearest you. Go to solvehungertoday.org/coronavirus for more.

​Looking for a Job

Visit The Workforce Connection website and look for the "Hot Jobs List" link.

​I need additional help. Who do I contact?
If you're in need of assistance due to hardships presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, you can call 2-1-1 any time of day to be put in touch with local resources and assistance. 

Donate to the Cause
815CRT is urging individuals and businesses to support the local COVID-19 response by donating to the COVID-19 Emerging Needs Fund. This fund will support the needs of residents and their children to help alleviate hardships they may be experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about how this fund will support needs in northern Illinois.

There are several ways to donate to the Emerging Needs Fund:

  • Text the word TOGETHER to 40403 

  • Make an online donation by clicking here

  • Mail a check made payable to United Way of Rock River Valley, 612 North Main Street, Suite 300, Rockford, IL 61103
    (Indicate "Emerging Needs Fund" in the memo line of the check)

Give Back in Other Ways
The Winnebago County Emergency Operations Center, in coordination with the Salvation Army, has announced the opening of the COVID-19 Donations Center. The center, located at 5460 E. State Street in Rockford (the former Circuit City building), is accepting donations Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Donations (except PPE) will be distributed to agencies serving the homeless and those in need during the COVID-19 crisis. Personal Protective Equipment donations will be distributed to local health care facilities. Learn more and view the full list of accepted donation items.

Need more information? Contact Jennifer!

Jennifer Smith
Jennifer Smith
Engagement Director
Phone: 7792108204
Email: Jennifer Smith