March 16, 2020

Howard County Philanthropies Coordinate Coronavirus Response

Howard County Philanthropies Coordinate Coronavirus Response

Local funders announce new emergency funds and actions to support the community

Columbia, Md. – Four local philanthropies have announced new emergency funds and actions to support community members affected by COVID-19. The Community Foundation of Howard County, Horizon Foundation, United Way of Central Maryland and Women’s Giving Circle of Howard County are working together to assess where assistance may be needed, provide funding, and accept donations to assist Howard County nonprofits on the front line of support, focusing on assisting with food security, housing, childcare and healthcare.

“We’re incredibly grateful to have a philanthropic community that is rising to this unfolding challenge with the spread of coronavirus,” said County Executive Calvin Ball. “These funds are critical to ensuring that during this time of uncertainty there will be supports in place to cover basic expenses, groceries, and bills for those in need.”

“We are proud to collaborate to track and coordinate the funding community’s response to this unprecedented public health crisis,” said Beverly White-Seals, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Howard County. “The community foundation stands ready to assist through our Howard County Community Relief Fund.”

As the management of the spread of COVID-19 continues to evolve at a fast pace, each organization will continue to work diligently to keep abreast of the updates, respond accordingly and support decisions made by county, state and federal authorities. United Way of Central Maryland has pledged $5,000 to support nonprofits providing relief efforts, and will also match up to $5,000 from donors.  “United Way is here to provide what’s needed, where it’s needed through our new COVID-19 Community Fund for Central Maryland,” said Franklyn Baker, president and CEO of United Way of Central Maryland. “As work schedules are cut or jobs are eliminated because of the virus, we know that people will need help covering basic expenses, like rent or mortgage, food, utility bills and healthcare, and this fund will help support those needs.”

The Horizon Foundation has given $20,000 in emergency relief to the Community Action Council of Howard County to help buy food for Head Start families and for the Food Bank. Horizon also has contributed $40,000 to jump-start the emergency funds established by the Community Foundation of Howard County, United Way of Central Maryland and Women’s Giving Circle of Howard County.

“We know the short and long-term impact of COVID-19 will have lasting implications and will disproportionately affect community members who are earning hourly wages, going without health insurance, needing child care and facing financial hurdles,” said Nikki Highsmith Vernick, president and CEO of the Horizon Foundation. “The Horizon Foundation and the Howard County funding community are here to support the needs of our most vulnerable residents and frontline health care workers as we work collaboratively to plan for the future to assist those who may be most affected in the months ahead.”

The Howard County funding community is working together to ensure that each fund has maximum reach and effectiveness, and are urging donors and the community at large to look for opportunities to support the critical needs of nonprofits they wish to help.

“The Women’s Giving Circle, our donors, and the local funding community will continue to explore the path forward in providing relief to our neighbors and we look forward to the strength this partnership brings in supporting and enhancing these efforts,” said Barb Van Winkle, chair of the Women’s Giving Circle of Howard County. “We are all in this together.”

Those looking to help can donate to the following emergency funds supporting nonprofits that are assisting community members affected by COVID-19:

  • The Community Foundation of Howard County has established the Howard County Community Relief Fund to address ongoing emergencies in Howard County. Members of the community and fund holders at the foundation are invited to donate.
  • The United Way of Central Maryland encourages community members to call 211, which is open at all times, for help finding food or shelter, paying bills, getting care or finding tax assistance. United Way is also working to mobilize volunteers and has established the new COVID-19 Community Fund for Central Maryland to support the community, and in particular, support those who operate on the frontlines of providing help and resources to those in need. Community members are invited to donate.
  • The Women’s Giving Circle of Howard County is inviting donations through its Emergency Response Network that will go directly to the Community Action Council to assist in providing adequate amounts of food to support Head Start families in Howard County. The organization is matching up to $5,000 of all donations. The WGC will continue to call on donors through the ERN in the coming weeks and months ahead.

As Howard County works to respond to the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, these organizations will continue to collaborate to assist community stakeholders, business leaders and public sector leaders to ensure a coordinated and comprehensive response.

Note for nonprofits seeking emergency funds: Please visit for information on how to apply for a grant.