Impact Report | September 2020

In April, Deaconess Foundation launched the COVID-19 Equitable Relief and Recovery Fund to provide emergency support for Black-led organizations responding to community needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the Fund, Deaconess partnered with local Black- led social service and social change organizations committing more than $2.2 million to their work.

To meet the needs of a rapidly changing environment caused by the advent of COVID-19, the foundation recalibrated its funding model and processes to expedite the grantmaking process for this Fund. Most organizations received funds within three weeks of submitting a funding proposal. Grants ranged from $5,000 to $50,000. Grants were considered general operating support with application request detailing the desired use of funds for informational purposes and internal analysis of service scale. Additionally, review processes were streamlined and reporting requirements were eliminated, so that applicants could focus on the work of relief response across the region.

At the onset of the pandemic, many philanthropic institutions rallied to create rapid response funding cycles to address immediate community needs. In times like this past spring, philanthropy is often positioned to move more swiftly that other sector actors, such as government. As the availability of funding has emerged from various sectors including the government through the CARES Act and other sources, Deaconess Foundation will sunset the COVID-19 Equitable Relief and Recovery program on September 11, 2020 and continue to focus on grantmaking and support efforts towards fostering a just recovery.  Black-led organizations that are interested in updates on other funding opportunities and resources to support their ongoing work can email

In the interest of accountability, the data below details the impact of all allocated and disbursed COVID-19 resources from Deaconess Foundation.  The impact summary illustrates the Foundation’s demonstrated commitment to advancing racial equity, heath equity and systems change.


Anticipating unpredictable shifts in the social sector, Deaconess made $400,000 available in general operating support for nonprofit organizations advocating and organizing to advance child well-being, including its core partners. Another $525,000 was invested directly in coordinated social service and public health response through the United Way of Greater St. Louis COVID-19 Crisis Response Services and Fund, St. Louis Regional Health Commission (RHC) COVID-19 Emergency Fund, and Solidarity Economy St. LouisSTL COVID-19 Monetary Mutual Aid.

Further, in response to disparities in COVID-19 contraction and death rates for Black people and under-representation of Black leadership in regional response, Deaconess focused investment in Black-led organizations and prioritized those that serve Black communities.  In addition to being Black-led, eligible organizations, provided direct aid (i.e. food, shelter, financial supports) to people most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and/or led efforts to mobilize these communities to meet social needs. Organizations were classified as Black-led if either the Chief Executive Officer or Chief Volunteer Officer identifies as Black. Of the grants awarded:

  • 39% of organizations have a chief executive who identifies as Black or African American;
  • 31% of agencies have a chief volunteer officer or board chair who identifies as Black or African
    American; and
  • 30% of the groups have both chief executives and chief volunteers who identify as Black or African

It was clear that without specific attention to fund Black-led organizations, neighborhoods and residents most at risk would once again be left out of receiving the supports needed to navigate this once in a generation crisis. Philanthropy and other sectors have a responsibility during moments like this to not only seek out those populations most likely to be marginalized but create the infrastructure to address those needs explicitly and regardless of historical funding practices.

The scope of services supported by these awards was broad and necessary during the early weeks of the pandemic. But, the range of services still advanced the foundation’s public policy agenda and strategy for child well-being, centering Justice & Equity for Youth, Increased Investment in Early Childhood Education, Access to Comprehensive Healthcare and Family Economic Mobility. As one may imagine, most resources in this health and financial crisis were invested in supports for family stability and outreach efforts to assure access to health supports and services. Funding requests centered on community-based efforts to support workers in low-wage jobs, provide relief to renters, prevent homelessness and provide food to those who needed it. Deaconess’ deepest investment of $755,000 supported sixty-eight organizations in providing family stability services including childcare for children of essential workers and rental and utility assistance for households. With investments totaling $255,000, twenty-three organizations conducted outreach efforts to assure access to health supports from language translation services to virtual healthcare visits. Investments of $55,000 in nine organizations centered early childhood education and justice and equity for youth as organizations provide technology and support for virtual education and therapeutic and intake engagement.

A majority of the organizations funded were small to mid-sized nonprofits with budgets less than $500,000. Data from the sector has shown small to mid-size Black-led organizations are not typically prioritized for funding support in times outside of crisis, so efforts centered on connecting and supporting organizations that were deeply rooted in community and mirrored the face of those most at risk. To extend that commitment, the foundation partnered with Black Funders St. Louis  a local Black-led giving circle to offer virtual professional development workshops on topics to help applicant nonprofits manage their finances, raise money in a virtual environment and action plan in an ever shifting landscape.

The geographic footprint for funding included: St. Louis City, St. Louis, Jefferson, Franklin and St. Charles Counties in Missouri and Madison, Monroe and St. Clair Counties in Illinois. When reflecting on the zip codes with the highest cases of COVID-19 across Missouri in the City and County (63113 and 63147, 63136, 63033, 63031) the map below shows that those areas also had the deepest coverage by funded COVID-19 Equitable Relief and Recovery partners; overall the 100 organizations funded served residents across ninety-five regional zip codes.

ERRF Impact Map

ERRF Impact Map
St. Louis County, MO St. Louis City, MO Madison County, IL St. Clair County, IL

St. Louis County, MO

St. Louis City, MO

Madison County, IL

St. Clair County, IL


Lastly, Deaconess has allocated $300,000 to support a cohort of six organizations it has identified as critical to framing a just recovery and assure public will for a sustained public policy response. The cohort will receive training, coaching, and peer support for capacity building alongside funding. Notably, every organization within the Just Recovery Cohort is Black-led, further illustrating the Foundation’s commitment to advance equity within the region’s social sector. The Just Recovery Cohort includes:

The journey to an equitable economic recovery from the pandemic will take time. The crisis of the past few months illustrates the enduring scope and scale of need - from increasing access to paid sick leave, to increasing the minimum wage, to providing democratic access and participation of historically under-represented, affected communities. Deaconess Foundation and its partners remain steadfast on the journey towards transformative change and invite community members to continue to engage this movement through future action alerts – the power to change the lives of the region’s children is in your hands.



During the course of the cycle, close to 200 organizations made inquiries regarding funding, with 174 organizations having completed applications reviewed for funding support. During the course of the program, 100 organizations were awarded more than $1 million in funding to conduct relief and recovery activities throughout the St. Louis Metropolitan region. The complete list of organizations funded through the COVID-19 Equitable Relief and Recovery Fund are noted below:


A House of Hope

New Heights Community Resource Center

A Red Circle

New Northside Missionary Baptist Church

African Diaspora Council

North Newstead Association

Almost Home

Northside Community Housing

ArchCity Defenders Inc.

Northside Youth And Senior Service Center

Behavioral Health Response Inc.

NPower Inc.

Better Family Life, Inc.

Parents as Teachers National Center

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri

Park Central Development Corporation

Boys and Girls Club of Greater St. Louis

Park Place Housing & Economic Development

Catholic Urban Programs

Peace Education Action Compassion and Empowerment Weaving Wholeness

Child and Family Empowerment Center

People's Community Action Corporation

Christian Hospital Foundation

Places for People

City Hope St. Louis

Power4STL (The T)

Communities First

Project Compassion

Community Life Line

Riverview West Florissant Development Corp

Community Women Against Hardship

Robert Fulton Development Inc.

Comprehensive Behavioral Health Center of St. Clair County, Inc.

Rustic Roots Sanctuary

Cornerstone CDC

RX Outreach


Sierra Leone Community of Saint Louis

Dream Builders 4 Equity

Soup-N-Share Outreach Program

Elevate St. Louis

St. Elizabeth Adult Day Care Center, Inc.

Employment Connection

St. Louis Association of Neighborhood Organizations (SLACO)

Faith & For The Sake of All

St. Louis American Foundation

Faith for Justice

St. Louis Public Schools Foundation

Family and Workforce Centers of America

St. Vincent Home for Children

Family Resources and Community Connections Incorporated

Tabernacle Community Development Corporation

Galilee Community Development Corporation

The Access Foundation

Girls Inc. of St. Louis

The Joseph Center

Good Journey Development Foundation

The Fit and Food Connection

Good Samaritan Ministries of the Metro East

The Musæum Library: Hyde Park Atelier of the Arts & Sciences

Grace Hill Settlement House

The Nehemiah Program

Hands Up United

The Sinai Family Life Center

Haven of Grace

The SoulFisher Ministries

Health Protection and Education Service

The Village

Hope House STL (fka St. Louis Transitional Hope House, Inc.)

The Ville Community Development Foundation - St. Louis

HOSCO Shift, Inc.

Train Up A Child Inc.

Infant Loss Resources

Transformation Christian Church & World Outreach Center

Jacob's Ladder Ministries

Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis

Jamaa Birth Village

Urban Sprouts

Life Source Consultants, Inc

Vitendo 4 Africa

Loyola Academy of St. Louis

Washington Metropolitan AMEZ Incorporation Safe Spaces

Macedonia Development Corporation


Marian Middle School

Wesley House Association

Mathews-Dickey Boys & Girls' Club

West Central Church of Christ

Meacham Park Neighborhood Improvement Association

The Women's Safe House

MindsEye Radio

WP Storehouse

Missouri Faith Voices

Yeyo Arts Collective

MTC Community Outreach

Young Voices with Action Inc.

My Diversity Circle

Youth and Family Center

NAACP St. Louis County, INC.

YWCA Metro St. Louis

Community Impact | Narrative Journalism


Sylvester Brown Jr. has joined The St. Louis American as its inaugural Deaconess Fellow. The fellowship is funded by the Deaconess Foundation as part of its support for Black-led COVID-19 relief efforts. It’s a one-year fellowship to support narrative journalism about the pandemic across all coverage areas.

Below, please find the articles produced during Mr. Brown's tenure at the American. For earlier articles, please visit the Deaconess Fellow Archive.