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Press Release: Headwaters Foundation Pledges COVID-19 Relief Funds

Jennifer Savage

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Headwaters Foundation pledges nearly half a million dollars in COVID-19 relief funds

April 10, 2020   

MISSOULA, MT – Headwaters Foundation has pledged nearly half a million dollars in additional investments in 2020 to help fund organizations on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis.

“As the COVID-19 crisis rapidly became more widespread, staff talked extensively with our grantees to understand their changing needs. We brought this information to our board and they made the courageous decision to allocate more resources to organizations in western Montana as these organizations work tirelessly to address the issues, gaps and needs left in the wake of COVID-19,” said Headwaters CEO Brenda Solorzano. “This funding is meant to respond to what our grantees told us were the most urgent needs they see in our communities.”

The new $450,000 allocation approved last week by the Headwaters board of trustees will bolster the $4.3 million the foundation already budgeted for 2020 grant making across four grant buckets, including GO! Grants, Sponsorships, Policy and Influence and Strategic Initiatives. The additional funding is earmarked to address food insecurity, emergency childcare and will fund an expansion of 2020 GO! Grants. Headwaters will also realign American Indian strategic initiative funding to meet the immediate needs of American Indian communities in western Montana as a result of the current pandemic.

“We want this money to help people now,” Solorzano said. “Food banks, childcare centers, and small nonprofits are suffering and we hope this extra boost will help in this time of crisis.”

In the past few weeks, Headwaters staff said they have how amazing and resilient communities have been in the face of this crisis. Volunteers are taking food to elders on the Flathead Indian Reservation. Neighbors who don’t have much are helping their neighbors with less. Nonprofits have undertaken the herculean task of processing vast amounts of information about federal COVID-19 response funds, while others have radically shifted models of care to accommodate emerging needs.

“We work side-by-side with communities,” Solorzano said. “This is what that looks like for us. We see ourselves as partners working toward long-term solutions. This funding allows us to support those organizations that are on this journey with us. Our hope is that when this crisis passes, we can get back to working together to improve the health and well-being of western Montanans.”

Headwaters has committed to getting the money out as quickly as possible to the people who need it most. The foundation has created a streamlined process that will require minimal information from grantees and will allow money to rapidly reach organizations.

“Even with the market in flux, the time to respond to the COVID-19 crisis is now,” said chair of the Headwaters Foundation Board of Trustees Robert Phillips.  

During this crisis, Headwaters has also maintained commitments to its grantees that go beyond funding. The foundation assured grantees that staff would be as flexible as possible with grant requirements including deliverables, timelines and reporting.

“We’ll work through this together,” Solorzano told grantees and partners.

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