ecf and the pandemic: moving evanston forward together

From the first impact of Covid 19 in Evanston in March 2020, Evanston Community Foundation has been focused on deep listening and partnership, creatively and strategically adapting to new realities. ECF envisioned three phases of response, which would overlap with each other: relief, recovery, rebuilding. Since mid-2021, ECF has wound down the Evanston Community Rapid Response fund, and we are primarily focused on rebuilding a better community through the ECF NOW Fund. 

now fund

The NOW Fund succeeds the Evanston Community Rapid Response Fund, which was launched on March 18, 2020, and through which ECF issued initial grants within the first week. As we move together toward rebuilding a more resilient and equitable Evanston, the focus on working together as a community doesn’t change. As it has been from the beginning, the strategy and purpose of the Foundation’s community investments is rooted in this connectivity.

investments in community via the Rapid Response Fund since march 2020

As of April 14, 2021, the total invested in Evanston since March 2020 is $4,649,655 through the Evanston Community Rapid Response Fund and the NOW Fund.

What are the investments that ECF has made in the community to respond to the Covid pandemic and its impact?

In each phase, click the link to see complete lists of what grants have been distributed.


Relief (Evanston Community Rapid Response Fund)

Supporting the immediate needs of populations most at risk during the crisis

Supporting nonprofits through operating grants

Recovery (Evanston Community Rapid Response Fund)

Supporting nonprofits as they adapt to safely reopen

Supporting efforts to help individuals and families adapt to changes in employment and education

Rebuild (Evanston Community Rapid Response Fund and, beginning June 2021, Evanston NOW Fund)

Helping nonprofits become resilient organizations

Working toward systemic change to help Evanston be truly equitable for all

Collective and Enduring Systems (Evanston Community Rapid Response Fund and, beginning June 2021, Evanston NOW Fund)

From relief through rebuilding, ECF partners across the community to build and support systems to serve and improve Evanston now and into the future 

Building enduring and collective systems

how does ecf determine community investments?

At every stage, ECF’s grantmaking has been informed by the disproportionate impact of the crisis on Evanston's Black and Brown residents. Our grants reflect ECF’s three strategic goals: Equity, collaboration within and across sectors, and a thriving nonprofit community.

The central element of ECF’s grantmaking is the engagement of the community. Immediate need grant recommendations are developed through collaborative work in the nonprofit task forces and in partnerships across the community. 

Competitive grants each are reviewed and recommended by grant committees made up of ECF board members and representatives from across the community. This includes the Operating Grants which were offered from March 2020 through February 2021. E-Town Innovation Grants and Nonprofit Growth & Sustainability Grants, launched in May 2021, each are reviewed and recommended by individual committees. Grant recommendations are reviewed and approved by the ECF Board.

community listening and partnerships

ECF uses a variety of strategies to listen to and work with the community:

  • Nonprofit roundtable: Since March 2020, ECF leadership has co-led a nonprofit roundtable of an average of 40 leaders who shared information, ideas, and concerns. This roundtable was created by request of former Mayor Hagerty and continues by request of Mayor Biss.
  • Nonprofit surveys: ECF has regularly surveyed the nonprofit community about the impact of the pandemic on their constituents and organizations.
  • Task forces: Out of the nonprofit roundtable, task forces of community members, along with representatives of nonprofit organizations, government, and school districts, have worked together to create informed, collaborative responses that have helped shape ECF’s investments. Examples include task forces focused on the immigrant population, early childhood, and seniors.