The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically upended all aspects of our lives and is on pace to continue doing so. As a community-informed and engaged foundation, Healthy Communities Foundation has been focused on listening to, learning from, and collaborating with grantee, funder, and public health partners across our region. It is important for us to hear directly from our partners and work collaboratively across sectors to carry out a multi-pronged response plan that helps address immediate health and wellness needs in our region. 


As led by our values, we commit to maintaining transparency in our approach to funding and collaborations during this time. Visit this page frequently as we will be updating resources and information regarding our response plan.


Here is a list of our response activities to date:



We recognize the power of funder collaboratives in maximizing impact in our region. As a result, we are a part of several funder collaboratives, both in terms of funding and information gathering.



      • We proudly contributed to the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund, which has given out $24.3 million in the last four rounds of funding. While we do not hold formal decision-making ability, we advocated for funds to be allocated to organizations serving our region and addressing urgent health needs. 


      • Subgroups have been created to guide the Fund’s grantmaking and HCF staff co-chair two of those subgroups.
        • Health Funding Advocacy (30+ health funders participating) Tracks collective grantee requests to determine if there can be a coordinated health grantmaking approach. Co-chaired by Maria Pesqueira. Gillian Knight has supported the subgroup by collecting and interpreting data across various sources to provide a more in-depth analysis of the gaps and opportunities for collaborative funding to health-serving organizations during this pandemic.
        • Immigration Advocacy (24 foundations participating):  Addresses the needs of the undocumented and immigrants who are fearful or lack access to basic services, which are populations deeply impacted by the pandemic. Co-chaired by Nora Garcia.


Western Cook County Suburbs

      • We signed onto a joint statement released by local health peer funders, including Community Memorial Foundation, Michael Reese Health Trust, and Westlake Health Foundation. This statement expresses our concern for the health and well-being of our collective regions and asserts our commitment and collaboration during this time.


      • We have been in discussions with the Cook County Department of Health, Cook County Health, and Hospital Systems, and fourteen suburban funders to get a broader perspective on immediate needs and maximize our impact in this region. We have examined ways to align rapid response requests across funders to reduce the application burden on organizations.


State of Illinois

      • In late March, Governor Pritzker announced the launch of the Illinois COVID-19 Response Funda fund that will provide flexible resources to nonprofits across the state and address the immediate needs of communities most impacted by this pandemic. To date, the Fund has distributed more than $23.65 million to organizations across the state. Our President, Maria Pesqueira, was appointed to the Fund’s Steering Committee and will serve as an advocate and influential voice for hard-hit communities, especially those with the greatest health disparities in our region.



During this time of deep uncertainty, we reaffirm the importance of our partnerships. We are inspired by our grantee partners’ commitment to keeping communities strong and healthy. That commitment strengthens our resolve to help them meet their mission and ours—to address urgent and emerging health needs, especially for those who face stark disparities.


      • We have been in direct contact with our grantee partners to hear their needs and receive frequent updates on the impact of COVID-19 at a community-level.
      • We encouraged our partners to participate in a statewide survey conducted by Forefront in March that helped funders and other community partners understand what was happening on-the-ground at the time. We used this data to identify urgent needs and funding gaps both at an organization and community level.



Guided by our values and mission-focused on health equity, access, and quality, the HCF COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund provided emergency funding to organizations in our region that are directly addressing critical health needs during this crisis.


The HCF COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund had one funding cycle focused on two overarching priorities: Surge Capacity Grants and Recovery Grants. Priority consideration was given to nonprofit organizations that currently receive general operating support through our foundation and who are addressing the COVID-19 pandemic in the following ways: Health service safety nets; mental health services; critical social determinants of health. 


Visit the HCF COVID-19 Rapid Response webpage for the list of grant recipients.



As has been our grantmaking approach these past two years, we remain committed to providing the majority of our funding towards general operating support. We firmly believe in strengthening our partners from within so their energy and focus can be on serving and protecting our communities during this pandemic and beyond.


Visit our 2020 Grant Cycle webpage for an important update from our President, Maria Pesqueira.