The Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation (OPRFCF) has made a third round of Rapid Response and Recovery Fund grants, totaling $200,000 for 18 area nonprofits. The grants provide funds to social impact organizations that are on the front lines providing daily, ongoing support to the community’s most vulnerable members during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the elderly, the economically at-risk and those with health concerns.

“Oak Park, River Forest and our neighboring communities are still fighting the effects of COVID-19, and help is still needed,” said Donna Myers, chair of the foundation board. “We remain committed to supporting organizations that are providing relief to at-risk populations, especially those addressing mental health, rental assistance due to unemployment, and food security.”

The following organizations were awarded grants in the latest round:

  • Animal Care League
  • Awake
  • Beyond Hunger
  • BUILD, Inc.
  • CBS Food Pantry
  • Collaboration for Early Childhood
  • Farmworker and Landscaper Advocacy Project (FLAP)
  • HEPH Foundation
  • Housing Forward
  • Larry Boys School Program
  • Oak Park Area Arts Council
  • Oak Park Education Foundation
  • Oak Park Homelessness Coalition
  • Pro Bono Network
  • SisterHouse
  • Sweet Rest
  • Thrive Counseling Center
  • YEMBA, Inc.

“The pandemic has further highlighted the inequities that exist in western Cook County and beyond,” said Tony Martinez, Jr., president and CEO of OPRFCF. “In the latest round of grants from the Rapid Response and Recovery Fund we are trying to be responsive to needs not just in Oak Park-River Forest but the greater west side. Our community is not an island, and the challenges faced by our neighbors affect us in both direct and indirect ways.”

The organizations receiving grants in the latest round are based in or serve Berwyn, Cicero, Maywood, Elmwood Park, Forest Park, Oak Park, Stickney and Chicago neighborhoods including Austin, Galewood, Lawndale, Hermosa and more. Several grantees are receiving funds from the foundation for the first time.

The Rapid Response and Recovery Fund has received a total of $670,000 since it was launched in mid-March with a seed investment of $50,000 from the foundation. The foundation then matched dollar to dollar the first $100,000 in donations. In May, longtime Oak Parkers Ken and Patty Hunt offered a challenge to match donations, dollar for dollar up to $250,000. Today, more than 300 individual, family and corporate donors have risen to this challenge, donating an additional $270,000 toward this vital effort.

The fund also received $250,000 from the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund, bringing a total of $920,000 in much-needed resources to our region.

“We want to thank the Hunts for their generosity, as well as the hundreds of donors who have shown their support as the foundation responds to the local demands of this global health crisis,” Martinez said. “It’s important to note that the Hunt family are still matching donations toward this vital effort.”

To donate to the Rapid Response and Recovery Fund, visit www.oprfcf.org/rapid-response-recovery-fund or call 708-848-1560.

In addition, proceeds from this year’s annual LemonAid charity drive will be donated to the Rapid Response and Recovery Fund. Since its founding in 2002 by the residents of the 700 block of Bonnie Brae in River Forest in response to the 9-11 attacks, LemonAid has raised more than $180,000 for local nonprofits. This year’s event will be virtual, and more information can be found at 9-11lemonaid.com.

Organizations interested in learning more about the Rapid Response and Recovery grants should contact program director Elizabeth Chadri at echadri@oprfcf.org. The foundation’s priority at this stage is specifically for organizations serving the Oak Park-River Forest and surrounding communities’ most vulnerable populations: those who are food-insecure or lack permanent housing, as well as our senior population and healthcare workers. Grants will continue to be distributed on a rolling basis as long as funding remains available.

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