Outer Banks Community Foundation announces COVID-19 Rapid Response Grants

Published 6:29 am Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The Outer Banks Community Foundation has announced several actions to support the Outer Banks through the coronavirus crisis.

Specifically, OBCF has initiated a COVID-19 Rapid Response Grants Program, including its first grant to provide home internet access to every student in the Dare County School System. The Community Foundation has also extended its online scholarship application deadline by one week to March 29 to allow students with disrupted internet access ample opportunity to apply.

According to OBCF executive director Lorelei Costa, while there has yet to be a confirmed local case of COVID-19, the Outer Banks — and especially the local nonprofit sector — has been deeply affected by the crisis.

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“Local closures and cancellations are profoundly impacting businesses, students and families,” said Costa, “and our nonprofits are leading the community response, working to continue, adapt, and even expand their programs to help residents through this tumultuous time.”

Nonprofits are already increasing their financial, educational and nutritional assistance programs, she said, to families affected by community closures while protecting their own volunteers, employees and clients from potential exposure.

“Should the COVID-19 virus spread to the Outer Banks, our nonprofit community will really be on the front lines, providing medical services, food and critical care for our most vulnerable neighbors,” said Costa.

To support local charitable programs as they evolve, OBCF has initiated the COVID-19 Rapid Response Grants Program, which will help nonprofits provide vital services to the Outer Banks through the coronavirus crisis. Those services could include child care, elder care, medical care, emergency response services, financial assistance to people out of work, nutritional assistance and beyond. Grant requests will be accepted on a rolling basis and reviewed every two weeks to ensure quick decisions and timely programs.

The first Rapid Response Grant has already been announced: $4,500 to the Dare Education Foundation, in partnership with Dare County Schools, to provide home internet access to under-resourced families with school age children who don’t already have home wi-fi.

To apply for a COVID-19 Rapid Response Grant, nonprofits are encouraged to first call OBCF at 252-261-8839 to discuss their programs, contingency plans and funding needs. To be eligible for a Rapid Response Grant, programs must be related to the COVID-19 crisis, either directly (e.g., care for patients) or indirectly (e.g., assistance to workers without child care). Requests can be submitted via a one- or two-page letter, briefly describing the nonprofit’s mission, the project at hand, the dollar amount requested, the local need it would meet and the beneficiaries of the proposed program. Complete instructions are online at www.obcf.org.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis, as long as the COVID-19 crisis continues, with funding decisions every two weeks. To be considered in the first round, applications must be received by 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 19 for a decision on Friday, March 20. The second round application deadline is 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 2 with decisions announced on Friday, April 3. Subsequent deadlines and guidelines will be announced as local needs evolve.

“For our first COVID-19 Rapid Response Grant, we were honored for the opportunity to partner with the Dare Education Foundation and the Dare County Schools,” said Costa. “This grant will ensure that every child in Dare County has online access to participate in the Dare County Schools’ new remote learning program, which commences on March 23 through school closures.”

The grant will also ensure that graduating seniors have home internet access to apply online for college, scholarships and/or employment. To give equal opportunity to all scholarship seekers, the OBCF extended its own scholarship deadline by one week to Sunday, March 29. The extra week will make certain that all students have internet access at home in order to apply, through the aforementioned program.

OBCF administers 55 scholarship programs and expects to award $173,000 this year in scholarships. Students may apply online at www.obcf.org.

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