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COVID Fund Collides with Staggering Need for Human Necessities: CNYCF Trying to Help Nonprofits


A fund set up to help local non-profit agencies deal with a wide range of impacts from the COVID-19 crisis has given out more than half-a-million dollars in help.  But the Central New York Community Foundation, which is managing it, is seeing what president Peter Dunn calls ‘staggering demand’.  It didn’t take long for safety-net type of services to fall short, such as the CNY Diaper Bank.


“So diapers are not an item that are covered by safety-net programs.  Just in March alone they saw a 50% increase in demand. … That’s one example.  We’re seeing, especially in the issue of food security, demand at food and the network that the food bank services, a really staggering increase in demand, on a real short-term basis.” 

The fund was meant for some short-term help for just such needs.  Dunn has also seen requests from organizations that needed help to quickly pivot to a different way of providing service.  For example, Vera House used a grant for technology to better help clients through computer and video meetings. 

To date, the fund has distributed $593,000.  Other groups that have received grants include:

  • Access C-N-Y;
  • Meals on Wheels;
  • Huntington Family Centers; 
  • Northside Learning Center
  • Mercyworks
  • Loretto
  • Rescue Mission Alliance
  • and more than a dozen others

Dunn expects more to seek help.  Much of the need is from a population described as ALICE – Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained Employed.
“These are folks that are employed; they’re working hard.  But they’re one crisis away from having an economic issue in their household, whether it’s a car problem, a health issue, or in this case immediate unemployment," Dunn described.  "I think we’re seeing and increase in demand that’s driven by just enormous unemployment that’s been created on a very quick basis.”

After an initial $500,000 was raised, Individual and business donors joined several foundations to push the total to $1.4 Million.  Information about seeking a grant – or donating – can be found at


M&T Bank is directing $100,000 toward the Mohawk Valley COVID-19 Response Fund, as well as $50,000 for the Central New York Community Support fund launched by CNYCF.  Both funds are designed to achieve similar objectives in their respective service areas.  They will rapidly deploy resources to nonprofit organizations that are addressing critical human services needs in communities significantly impacted by the pandemic. 

"This unprecedented public health crisis has changed the way we live and work — but it won’t change our commitment to supporting our communities,” said Allen Naples, M&T Bank regional president for Central New York.

The Mohawk Valley COVID-19 Response Fund was created by the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties and the United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica Area.  M&T established the MTPT Fund, a donor-advised fund of the Community Foundation, to provide sustained support for Mohawk Valley causes and organizations after it acquired Partners Trust in 2007.  As one of the most active funds of The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties, the MTPT has granted more than $3.2 million to organizations in the two counties addressing a wide range of community needs since the fund was established in 2007.

Those with the ability to give to the Mohawk Valley fund can visit