Community Foundation of WNC raises more than $1 million for recession fund

Published 6:13 pm Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina announces that more than $1 million has been raised for the regional Recession Response Fund.

With the announcement of this latest round of $437,555 in grants, including $15,000 to organizations in Polk County, more than $1 million has been distributed to nonprofits across Western North Carolina during 2009.

Moving quickly as the foreclosure crisis and unprecedented unemployment shook the economy, the Recession Response Fund effort was launched in January.

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The fund was seeded with $250,000 from the Foundations permanent endowments. Working with partners such as the Cherokee Preservation Foundation, our affiliate funds and other foundations, and with the support of members of the community, the Foundation has met their goal.

Meeting the goal is a wonderful thing, however, we are very aware that people continue to struggle, said Elizabeth Brazas, the Foundations president. Unemployment is high and foreclosures continue to cause turmoil for families. This latest round of grants is our largest to date, and 71 nonprofits will receive important support. The Foundation was able to move quickly to help, and we are grateful we could organize this effort that is helping people across the region.

No fees were charged, and every dollar of the Recession Response Fund will be granted for emergency assistance before the end of the year. Grants were made primarily for operating support, enabling organizations to focus on service delivery.

More than one quarter of the Recession Response Fund was used to address the needs of hungry families including two grants to MANNA FoodBank, support to 41 food pantries to purchase food, funds to nine organizations to purchase freezers and refrigerators and, literally, thousands of meals delivered to our neighbors in the form of food boxes, home delivered meals and backpacks of food sent home with children on the weekends.

Community gardens emerged as an important resource, and eight different nonprofits received funding so that communities can grow their own produce to share with people in need.

Approximately one-fifth of the Recession Response Fund grants went to organizations providing emergency assistance for heat, utilities and rent. Nonprofits reported a dramatic increase in first-time applicants and revealed that many former donors had become clients.

The financial stress contributed to an increase in domestic violence cases and shelters in ten Western North Carolina counties received grants. Five shelters serving the homeless also received support; in one case allowing a new shelter to open to serve increasing demand.

Major support was also provided for community-based health clinics, prescription assistance and mental health counseling. Seven different organizations received grants designed to help people find and keep jobs.

OnTrack Financial Education & Counseling and Pisgah Legal Services are on the front-line of the regions foreclosure crisis. These agencies, with others, provided legal and financial counseling to thousands of families helping more than 98 percent of their clients avoid foreclosure. A complete list of all Recession Response Fund grants can be found on the Foundations website.

For more information about the Recession Response Fund or CFWNC, visit or call 828-254-4960.