Marshall Community Foundation Launches Local COVID-19 Response Efforts

The Marshall Community Foundation Board of Trustees launched a three-part plan to assist local charitable organizations to meet the community’s needs due to the pandemic.

“Our focus is on the community as a whole, most importantly the health and safety of the people our area non-profits serve,” said Marshall Community Foundation executive director, Shannon Tiernan. “In times of uncertainty, our non-profits that focus on social and human services initiatives are actively implementing strategies to help meet the basic needs of individuals in our community. It is imperative that we do what we can to support them in these difficult days.”

Part I—Immediate distribution to meet community members’ emergency needs
The Community Foundation has approved a one-time distribution of $15,000 to the Fountain Clinic. The Clinic will partner with Marshall Area Community Services (MACS), local churches, healthcare providers and pharmacies, for example, who identify individuals requiring assistance with food insecurity, medical expenses, utilities, rent and other basic necessities. This financial resource will be used for emergencies less than $300.

With a successful history of helping community members during their most vulnerable moments, the Fountain Clinic is the logical partner for this initiative. “The Fountain Clinic facilitated a similar grant distribution a number of years ago,” said Tiernan. “Organizations across the greater Marshall area already partner with the Fountain Clinic to meet needs of individuals in our community, and we want to ensure they can continue to be responsive to increased emerging needs in this difficult time.”

Part II—Implementing “Emergency Action Grants”
For more than 50 years, the Marshall Community Foundation has allocated more than $10 million in grants to local non-profits.

“We are proud of the impact we make in Marshall and our surrounding communities through traditional grant-making,” said MCF Board Chair, Jennifer Caplis. “It is safe to say, there isn’t a corner of our community that hasn’t been impacted by the Foundation. With that said, we made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend traditional grant-making so we can help our area non-profit organizations, schools and municipalities working in direct response to situations arising due to the pandemic. These are unprecedented times, and we believe the situation we face warrants this level of support from our Community’s Foundation.”

To address challenges transpiring in direct relation to COVID-19, the Marshall Community Foundation is offering emergency grant cycles for local non-profit, tax-exempt organizations, schools, churches (for non-sectarian purposes), cities and townships in the greater Marshall area, as well as Calhoun County-based organizations serving the Marshall community that are experiencing unforeseen financial hardships such as increased expenses or lost revenue due to the pandemic.

Though the Marshall Community Foundation does not typically fund grant requests for operational expenses, we believe this one-time procedure is important to support local charitable organizations as they make difficult decisions to keep our community safe.

Initially, distributions via the newly implemented “Emergency Action Grants” process will prioritize non-profits serving fellow community members:

  • Without access to health insurance
  • With greater health risks, including people over the age of 60 or people with compromised immune systems
  • At risk or experiencing homelessness, utility shut-off or food insecurity

Organizations addressing these priorities and experiencing increased demand for services or that are developing new, short-term programs in response to the pandemic may also be considered. But, again, human and social service organizations meeting the immediate needs of our community may take priority.  
Through this emergency initiative, the Marshall Community Foundation will not grant for normal operating expenses or programs not related to COVID-19, annual fund-raising drives, multi-year funding initiatives or capital expenses. As is always the case, the Marshall Community Foundation does not grant for political projects, religious or sectarian purposes, or to individuals, except through educational and enrichment scholarships. Proposals should not replicate emergency services or resources being offered by other local, state or federal entities.

In order to move resources quickly without further burdening organizations providing front-line critical services and support, the Foundation is expediting its normal application process at this time. Grants will be made on a rolling basis. As fundraising continues through the outbreak and recovery phases of the crisis, grant-making will adapt to emerging needs as the situation evolves.
“Both operational and programmatic grant-making strategies are exceptionally valuable and both are needed across the non-profit sector to ensure our area non-profit organizations remain as strong as possible through this period of economic volatility and intensified community need,” added Caplis.
The first round of grant making will run through September 2020, at which time the Foundation will determine how it will move forward.

Before submitting an application, agencies are encouraged to visit for more information, or contact the Foundation directly.

Part III—Establishing a “Emergency Action Non-endowed Fund”
In response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the “Emergency Action Non-endowed Fund” will support the Community Foundation’s efforts to help local charitable organizations access to resources required to remain responsive to our community’s evolving needs. 
This newly created fund can receive donations from the community immediately, and 100 percent of these dollars will be granted out to local non-profit agencies through the Foundation’s Emergency Action Grant process.

“With so many needs emerging, it can be very difficult to know which organizations address which challenges or how to donate to specific organizations,” said Tiernan. “Through the ‘Emergency Action Non-endowed Fund,’ we at the Foundation can get help to the organizations that most need it as the situation evolves.

“I encourage you to chat with me about your ideas or any questions you may have,” she added. “I can offer help getting your donation where you want it to go, whether through the Marshall Community Foundation or directly to other organizations. We’re all in this together; let’s ensure our neighbors’ needs are met throughout this crisis.”
Though the physical office is closed, the work of the Marshall Community Foundation continues. For more information about any of the strategies listed, or to make a contribution to the Emergency Action Non-endowed Fund, please visit, or call (269) 781-2273 or email [email protected].