San Antonio philanthropy-driven coronavirus fund gets a $1 million gift

A million-dollar gift from two large donors has given a significant boost to the COVID-19 Response Fund, bringing the total donated to help San Antonians through the coronavirus crisis to $5.3 million.

A $500,000 challenge grant from San Antonio philanthropist Harvey Najim last week spurred the John L. Santikos Fund of the San Antonio Area Foundation to match that amount. The two donations, along with gifts from many others, have helped the fund nearly double in size since it originally launched on March 20 with $2.7 million.

The response fund is jointly managed by the San Antonio Area Foundation and the United Way of San Antonio & Bexar County. It supports nonprofit organizations serving the most vulnerable populations in San Antonio and surrounding areas.

The Area Foundation has become one of the top 20 foundations in the nation based on asset size, managing more than 500 charitable funds and exceeding $1 billion in assets.

So far, 103 local nonprofits have received $3.3 million in grants from the COVID-19 fund, with an average award of $30,824. Grant recipients include:

  The Christian Assistance Ministry, which received $50,000 to provide food, prescription support, hygiene supplies, baby formula, baby wipes and diapers to help people affected by homelessness, poverty and financial issues.

  The Children’s Shelter received $50,000 for additional personnel, meals, learning and activities for the increased number of children in its care.

  The Chromosome 18 Registry & Research Society received $25,000 to create new resources, including outlines for physical, speech, and occupational therapy that families can do at home, and podcasts and monthly live broadcasts to keep families connected.

The COVID-19 Response Fund continues to accept applications from local nonprofit organizations, available online at Decisions are made within 10 business days and awards made electronically. The rapid-response grants are one-time, general operating investments.

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The fund targets five areas: the economic impact of reduced and lost work due to the broader coronavirus outbreak; the immediate needs of vulnerable populations; increased demand for medical information and support; fear and confusion about the outbreak among the vulnerable and the need for resources for families of school-aged children.

“We are profoundly grateful for Harvey Najim’s initial contribution and his most recent challenge grant, which we were able to meet,” said Marjie French, the foundation’s CEO. “The significant gift will help us address the immediate and urgent needs of our community.”

The Area Foundation and United Way continue to actively raise funds for the response effort. Businesses and philanthropies can contact Lisa Brunsvold at or 210-228-3760.

Individuals interested in making a donation to the Fund of $10 or more can do so through the United Way’s options, such as or texting HELPSATX to 41444.

Bruce Selcraig is a staff writer in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. To read more from Bruce, become a subscriber.

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