The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically upended all aspects of our lives in just a matter of weeks and is on pace to continue doing so. As a community-informed and engaged foundation, Healthy Communities Foundation has been focused on listening to, learning from and collaborating with grantee, funder and public health partners across our region. It is important to us to hear directly from our partners and work collaboratively across sectors to carry out a multipronged response plan that helps address immediate health and wellness needs in our region. 


As led by our values, we commit to maintaining transparency in our approach to funding and collaborations during this time. In addition, while there are several COVID-19 resource guides available, we feel it is important to house those specific to and from our partners and communities. Visit this page frequently as we will be updating resources and information regarding our response plan.


Here is a list of our COVID-19 response activities to date:



We recognize the power of funder collaboratives in maximizing impact in our region. As a result, we are a part of several funder collaboratives, both in terms of funding and information gathering.



      • We proudly contributed to the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund, which has given out more than $8.8 million in the last two rounds of funding. While we do not hold formal decision-making ability, we advocated for funds to be allocated to organizations serving our region and addressing urgent health needs. We will continue to update our partners about future grant opportunities through this fund.


      • Subgroups have been created to guide the Fund’s grantmaking and HCF staff co-chair two of those subgroups.
        • Health Funding Advocacy (30+ health funders participating) Tracks collective grantee requests to determine if there can be a coordinated health grantmaking approach. Co-chaired by Maria Pesqueira. Gillian Knight has supported the subgroup by collecting and interpreting data across various sources to provide more in-depth analysis on the gaps and opportunities for collaborative funding to health-serving organizations during this pandemic.
        • Immigration Advocacy (24 foundations participating):  Addresses the needs of the undocumented and immigrants who are fearful or lack access of basic services, which are populations deeply impacted by the pandemic. Co-chaired by Nora Garcia.


Western Cook County Suburbs

      • We signed onto a joint statement released by local health peer funders, including Community Memorial Foundation, Michael Reese Health Trust and Westlake Health Foundation. This statement expresses our concern for the health and well-being of our collective regions and assert our commitment and collaboration during this time.


      • We have been in discussions with Cook County Department of Health, Cook County Health and Hospital Systems and fourteen suburban funders to get a broader perspective on immediate needs and maximize our impact in this region. We have examined ways to align rapid response requests across funders to reduce application burden on organizations.


State of Illinois

      • In late March, Governor Pritzker announced the launch of the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund, a fund that will provide flexible resources to nonprofits across the state and address immediate needs of communities most impacted by this pandemic. To date, the Fund has distributed more than $10.5 million to organizations across the state. Our President, Maria Pesqueira, was appointed to the Fund’s Steering Committee and will serve as an advocate and influential voice for hard-hit communities, especially those with the greatest health disparities in our region.



During this time of deep uncertainty, we reaffirm the importance of our partnerships. We are inspired by our grantee partners’ commitment to keeping communities strong and healthy. That commitment strengthens our resolve to help them meet their mission and ours—to address urgent and emerging health needs, especially for those who face stark disparities.


      • We have been in direct contact with our grantee partners to hear their needs and receive frequent updates on the impact of COVID-19 at a community-level.
      • We encouraged our partners to participate in a statewide survey conducted by Forefront in March that helped funders and other community partners understand what was happening on-the-ground at the time. We used this data to identify urgent needs and funding gaps both at an organization and community level.



Guided by our values and mission focused on health equity, access and quality, the HCF COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund will provide emergency funding to organizations in our region that are directly addressing critical health needs during this crisis.


The HCF COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund had one funding cycle focused on two overarching priorities: Surge Capacity Grants and Recovery Grants. Priority consideration was given to nonprofit organizations that currently receive general operating support through our foundation and who are addressing the COVID-19 pandemic in the following ways: Health service safety nets; mental health services; critical social determinants of health. 


Visit the HCF COVID-19 Rapid Response webpage for the list of grant recipients.



As has been our grantmaking approach these past two years, we remain committed to providing the majority of our funding towards general operating support. We firmly believe in strengthening our partners from within so their energy and focus can be on serving and protecting our communities during this pandemic and beyond.


Visit our 2020 Grant Cycle webpage for important update from our President, Maria Pesqueira.


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We compiled a list of COVID-19 testing sites near and within the HCF region. Take a look at the list here, which will be updated frequently. 

      • Daycare centers are allowed to remain open to provide emergency child care for essential workers. Learn more here.


      • Pro-bono consulting is available for nonprofits from Rustandy School of Social Sector Innovation at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. Nonprofits, government agencies, and social enterprises can connect with Booth MBA students to receive strategic support such as data analysis, research and diligence, project management and operations. 



      • State of Illinois’ 24/7 coronavirus hotline in English and Spanish — (800) 889-3931 or email DPH.SICK@ILLINOIS.GOV.


      • The City of Chicago’s Department of Public Health (CDPH) launched ‘THE DOC IS IN: ASK DR. ARWADY,’ a new daily live-stream hosted by the City and CDPH Commissioner Allison Arwady, M.D. on the City’s Facebook and Twitter channels.







Compiled Resource Lists 







By area (will be updated as we hear about these area-specific lists):



For individuals living in Chicago who need a safe, free place to stay during the COVID-19 pandemic, call the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline at 877-863-6388. They recently partnered with the City of Chicago, Airbnb, and The Network – Advocating Against Domestic Violence to help those in need.

Grantee Partners:










  • Tech Soup is offering free technology resources 







  • One Fair Wage Emergency Fund – Cash assistance to restaurant workers, car service drivers, delivery workers, personal service workers, and more in need. 


  • Cook County Community Recovery Fund – Cook County’s Bureau of Economic Development has launched this Fund as part of the Community Recovery Initiative. This Fund offers one-time, zero-interest loans of up to $20K for small businesses and $10K for independent contractors in suburban Cook County. 


  • MicroBusiness Recovery Grant Program – This program that will give out $5,000 grants to 1,000 microbusinesses (<4 employees) in low-to moderate-income neighborhoods, several in the HCF region, that have been deeply impacted by COVID-19. This program will help businesses who may not be able to receive funding from federal programs like Paycheck Protection Program. The grants will be distributed on a lottery basis. Applications (available in Spanish, too) are due May 4th and grants will be awarded by May 11th.

Food Access


No Contact Pickup/Delivery



Food Pantries


From Grantee Partners:

Community Organizing: Technology Funders Collaborative – Access to technology has surfaced as a key issue with many communities experiencing the technology divide. This Fund would go towards building organizational capacity to facilitate strategic base building, build new coalitions and partnerships; support an organization’s technology infrastructure. 


A Better Chicago: Emergency Relief Fund – Funding for projects and initiatives providing assistance to low-income youth and families experiencing significant hardship due to COVID-19. The focus is on Black and Latinx youth due to the disproportionate impact on these communities and the systemic inequities that exist in them. Grants range from $20K-100K over three to six months.


Center for Community Health COVID-19 Community Recovery Response Fund – The Center for Community Health in Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine is providing financial support for community-based organizations providing services and resources to communities during the pandemic. 



Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation – COVID-19 Emergency Grant – Assists individuals who work in theatrical exhibition. To be eligible, individuals must have worked in theatrical exhibition for a minimum of 5 years, derive their primary source of income from the movie theater circuit and have been furloughed/laid off. 


PEN America: Writers’ Emergency Fund – Supports the literary community with grants of $500 to $1K. Open to professional writers in the US, including fiction and nonfiction authors, poets, playwrights, screenwriters, translators and journalists.


MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund – Music industry professionals may apply for basic living assistance (rent or mortgage). 


League of Chicago Theatres: Chicago Theatre Workers Relief Fund – Helps replace lost income due to theatre closures. It is available to all who have had to stop working, including those on contract, part-time employees, those working on a stipend. 


Foundation for Contemporary Arts: Emergency Grants COVID-19 Fund – Will disburse $1,500 grants to artists who have had performances or exhibitions cancelled/postponed because of COVID-19. Applicants must be individual artists, or an individual representing an artist collective, ensemble or group. 


Arts for Illinois Relief Fund – Provides financial relief to workers and organizations in creative industries (i.e. artists and artisans, including stage production members and part-time cultural workers, large to small arts organizations)




Novartis US Foundation: COVID-19 Community Response Fund – Support immediate response and recovery efforts. Programs must support one or more of the following objectives: strengthening local and national healthcare infrastructure to meet increased demand and protect front-line health workers; establishing digital platforms for COVID-19 related data collection; remote delivery of healthcare; effective dissemination of important public health information; creating/enhancing new community health programs specific to the pandemic response. 

In case of a mental health crisis, text 741-741 for help or reach the Suicide Prevention Hotline at (800) 273-8255. Both are free of charge and available 24/7.
Grantee Partners:




  • Proviso Partners for Health are organizing emergency food relief for Maywood residents. You can donate to support these efforts. English Spanish


  • Sarah’s Inn is looking for donated canned goods. Drop-off is on Fridays between 8am-12pm at 1547 Circle Avenue, Forest Park. 


  • UCP Seguin is in need of cleaning supplies (disinfectant wipes, bleach, laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid), thermometers, toilet paper. Call 708-652-5037 to schedule pickup or drop off at Seguin Auto Center, 5601 Ogden Avenue.



  • New Life Centers of Chicagoland is looking for help with food delivery in Little Village. Sign up here.






  • Headspace is offering free meditations on their app
Grantee Partners: