The San Antonio Area Foundation is in the Pearl.
In a letter emailed to nonprofit organizations the San Antonio Area Foundation is pausing most charitable contributions from the John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation which the San Antonio Area Foundation is in charge of. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

The San Antonio Area Foundation has given out more than $13.4 million in rapid emergency funding to area charitable organizations for support during the coronavirus pandemic for the past five months — and now it’s pausing those relief efforts.

The Area Foundation and United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County are shifting the focus of that grantmaking fund to support long-term economic recovery, particularly through employment.

“We will keep the COVID-19 Response Fund open, and we will continue distributing funds to nonprofits as donations come in,” said Marjie French, CEO of the San Antonio Area Foundation. “We are pausing to talk with our donors and partners on how best to transition from triage to recovery.”

French noted there are needs in the community that still require immediate support, such as addressing unemployment through workforce development and educational support, and the organization is involved in those efforts.

The COVID-19 Response Fund was launched on March 20 with $2.7 million, and that pool grew to $6.4 million in June with contributions from The Meadows Foundation and Casey Family Programs. The money has been awarded to 200 nonprofits supporting clients with urgent needs, including social services, business and employment, and food security and shelter. 

One of the organizations supported with a response grant is Merced, an affordable housing developer and services provider, which used half of its $50,000 grant from the COVID-19 Response Fund to help residents with utilities, rent, food, and other essentials. The remainder went toward emergency support of Merced’s operations, said a spokeswoman.

“Our residents are working families that, quite often, live paycheck to paycheck and do not have savings for emergencies,” said Kristin Davila, president of Merced. “The immediate and immense support from the fund and the staff at the San Antonio Area Foundation allowed us to respond to these ‘emergencies.’”

The Area Foundation also granted another $7 million for COVID-19 emergency support through its donor-directed charitable funds, with $1.2 million going directly to the COVID-19 Response Fund. 

Grantmaking by these donor-advised funds grew 33 percent in the first and second quarters of 2020 compared to the same timeframe in 2019, said a statement from the foundation, with 95 percent of all giving in response to COVID-19 staying in Bexar County.

The increase in donor-directed giving to nonprofits is directly attributable to concern for nonprofits working on the front lines of the crisis, said a statement from the Area Foundation.

“As our region battles forward from emergency response to recovery efforts, I want to recognize the tremendous generosity of individuals, families, foundations, businesses and civic institutions who have rallied in support of our community during this crisis,” French said. 

A list of donors and partners on the Area Foundation’s website includes individuals and charitable and corporate foundations.

Some of the hundreds of nonprofits besides Merced receiving grant awards include El Centro Del Barrio, the Family Service Association, the Healy-Murphy Center, Jewish Family Services of San Antonio, the Salvation Army, and many more which are listed on the foundation’s website

Disclosure: The San Antonio Area Foundation is a financial supporter of the Rivard Report. For a full list of supporters, click here.

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Shari Biediger

Shari Biediger is the development beat reporter for the San Antonio Report.