Injecting Funds to Sustain Our Economy

by Mike Hunter

Many are stepping up, but these funding partners are doing the hard work to provide immediate help through relief grants and other programs. While some of these organizations regularly grant funds, there is no question that the volume — both in number of grants and amount of funds — is a lot to manage and disburse. Overwhelmed staff changed policies, and the urgency of doing it now has taken a toll. But at the end of the day, each of these organizations is working harder than ever to empower business and make a difference. 

Arizona Community Foundation

Steven G. Seleznow, President and CEO

The Arizona COVID-19 Community Response Fund was established by the Arizona Community Foundation, in partnership with a growing list of local corporations and foundations, to support nonprofit organizations across the state as they respond to the impact of COVID-19 within our community.

ACF is committed to working with other funding partners and community collaborators to move resources quickly and adapt to evolving community needs in order to support gaps not covered by state or federal relief funding. One hundred percent of contributions to this fund will be distributed to nonprofit organizations swiftly as needs arise. 

While the initial priority is to address immediate needs, additional funds will be released on a rolling basis as fundraising continues through outbreak and recovery phases of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funds & Eligibility

Nonprofits were provided grants up to $25,000, depending on the immediate relief efforts outlined in their application. 

  • To be eligible, organizations needed to meet the following criteria:
  • Any Arizona 501(c)(3) organization, government agency, tribal entity and religious organization that operates with fiscal accountability and responsibility.
  • Organizations without 501(c)(3) status must use a fiscal agent to apply on their behalf. Fiscal agents must be a 501(c)(3) organization. A copy of the agreement between the fiscal sponsor and the sponsored organization is required.
  • Organizations must be in good standing with the IRS at the time of review.
  • If requested, organizations must demonstrate a non-discrimination policy regarding staff, employment, governing board and service delivery based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability or national origin.

ACF has granted $8.2 million to 787 nonprofits. It reports that, as of mid-August, it is out of funding for immediate relief grants and is starting to consider the long-term recovery needs.

ACF is also administering the small-business relief grant programs for Phoenix IDA, City of Phoenix, City of Yuma, Maricopa County, City of Chandler and the City of Peoria. As of mid-August, more than $37.0 million was still available to grant to small businesses. 

Flinn Foundation

Tammy McLeod, Ph.D., President and CEO

The Flinn Foundation’s philanthropic investment in Arizona is in four areas: bioscience, education, civic leadership, and arts and culture. This spring, in two of those areas — bioscience and arts and culture — the Flinn Foundation focused its grantmaking on responses to COVID-19.

In the biosciences, Flinn Foundation grants have been to protect frontline healthcare workers, accelerate development of therapeutics, and support outbreak modeling and tracking.

In arts and culture, the Flinn Foundation has shifted an existing program that addresses the financial and creative health of the state’s largest arts-and-culture organizations to help these organizations respond to the pressures of the pandemic.

Additionally, the Flinn Foundation has contributed to a multi-funder community fund established by the Arizona Community Foundation.

Funds & Eligibility

The Flinn Foundation’s 2020 COVID-19-related grants have included:

  • $175,000 to Northern Arizona University to support a pair of projects at NAU’s Pathogen and Microbiome Institute and the Center for Health Equity Research: the first a project to establish a center for testing and evaluating effectiveness of proposed drugs for treating patients with COVID-19; the second a project to model the spread of COVID-19 in rural settings like northern Arizona and the Colorado Plateau, which have much different characteristics than the urban centers of outbreak informing most existing models.
  • $150,000 to the Arizona Apparel Foundation to support a project of the Fashion and Business Resource Innovation Center, located in downtown Tempe, to manufacture PPE for healthcare workers.
  • $100,000 to the Translational Genomics Research Institute to support an expansion of COVID-19 testing.
  • $100,000 to the Arizona COVID-19 Community Response Fund, established by the Arizona Community Foundation to aid nonprofit organizations throughout the state that have been endangered by the disease’s wide-ranging impacts.
  • $25,000 to the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix to support a new COVID-19 Innovation Team at the medical school, involving clinicians, students and local companies conducting rapid-design projects to improve the efficacy and safety of treatment tools for COVID-19 patients.
  • $10,000 to Arizona State University to support a project using wastewater epidemiology to track the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community, to enable local officials to identify disease hot spots.

The Flinn Foundation has earmarked the balance of its 2020 grantmaking budget in arts and culture — and the majority of funding in this area for 2021 — to help its grantee pool of 17 organizations respond to the pressures of the pandemic, including by reimagining programming and their broader business models. These arts-and-culture grants, which are being planned carefully in consultation with the grantee organizations, will likely total more than $1 million.

The Flinn Foundation’s grantmaking occurs by invitation only — not through open requests for proposals — with requirements for applying and conditions of grants dependent on the specific opportunities and needs of the grantees. All Flinn Foundation grantmaking is to Arizona nonprofit organizations in the Foundation’s four areas of investment.

As of mid-August, the 2020 grants awarded, which are described above, have totaled $560,000. Grants to be awarded in arts and culture through 2021 may exceed $1 million. Additional bioscience grantmaking focused on the response to COVID-19 will likely occur in 2020 and/or 2021.

Maricopa County Small Business Relief Program 

John Lewis, Chief Financial Officer of Maricopa County

Maricopa County created a small-business grant program with the assistance of the Arizona Community Foundation in early July. The purpose of the Maricopa County Small Business Relief Program is to support the continued viability of small businesses experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Funds & Eligibility

The first phase of the program targeted small businesses and nonprofits with less than $3 million in annual gross revenue. The County wanted to help truly small organizations with few employees to keep them from closing their doors while the economy recovers. More than 300 businesses received grants up to $10,000 during that three-week period ending July 31. The total was about $2.4 million.

Phase 2 of the grant program started on August 17, 2020 and will run until October 2, 2020. The County increased the time period, elevated the caps on business size, and increased the potential grant to $25 thousand dollars for small business and nonprofits that qualify.

To qualify for Phase 2, businesses:

  • May have received other COVID-related financial assistance;
  • Must have a maximum of 50 employees;
  • Must have less than $5 million in gross sales; and
  • Must demonstrate their gross revenues declined by at least 25 percent as a result of COVID-19 from March to June 2020. 

Other small business qualifications are available at Arizona Community Foundation located at

Maricopa County has approximately $20 million available for small businesses and nonprofits in this second phase. Grant awards will be provided on a rolling basis based on the date of submission until funding is exhausted or the grant period closes.

Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust

Gene D’Adamo, President and CEO

When it became apparent in early March that community spread was occurring in Arizona (and Indiana, where the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust also operates), the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust engaged with fellow philanthropic organizations and community partners to mobilize collectively and swiftly to help meet the needs that emerged. The Trust participated in the Arizona Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Community Response Fund to assist nonprofit agencies facing suddenly increased demands for services. It reached out to more than 65 of its grantees to determine where it could provide the greatest support, then focused the majority of its COVID-related aid on direct services organizations in Maricopa County providing food access, senior and homeless services and domestic violence/crisis intervention. 

In addition to providing emergency grants, the Trust also changed some program-specific grants it had already distributed to operating support grants, so organizations have greater flexibility to use the funds where they need them most. 

Finally, the Trust provided annual year-end funding early, so agencies could put the money toward areas of greatest need in a timely manner, loosened reporting criteria and simplified its application process for emergency grants, so nonprofits could spend more time on delivering critical services.

Funds & Eligibility

As of mid-August, the Trust in 2020 has granted nearly $2 million in COVID-related funding to nonprofits in Arizona, primarily to direct service organizations in Maricopa County providing food access, senior and homeless services, and domestic violence/crisis intervention. In addition to meeting basic human needs, The Trust continues to support its initiative work related to animal welfare and the environment.

Organizations helping people in need to which the Trust has provided COVID-related grants include About Care, Arizona Community Foundation, Arizona Food Bank Network, Beneville, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona, Child Crisis Arizona, Desert Mission, Dress for Success Phoenix, Fresh Start Women’s Foundation, Girl Scouts – Arizona Cactus Pine Council, House of Refuge, Human Services Campus, Justa Center, Native American Connections, Northwest Valley Connect and Waste Not.

Organizations protecting animals to which the Trust has provided COVID-related grants include Alliance for Companion Animals, Altered Tails, Lost Our Home Pet Foundation, PACC911 – Phoenix Animal Care Coalition 911, Phoenix Herpetological Society and Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center.

Organizations enriching community life to which the Trust has provided COVID-related grants include the Heard Museum.

While the Trust does not have a dedicated COVID-19 fund, for the first time in its 23-year history, its board of trustees will consider proposals that increase the Trust’s grantmaking beyond annual giving limits, so it may provide additional help during these incredibly challenging times. The Trust anticipates granting an additional $1 million in relief funds by the end of the year.

The Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust accepts proposals by invitation only. While the Trust relaxed its proposal process as the pandemic took hold but will be returning to the more typical process described on the website as the trustees consider funding for the rest of the year. 

Phoenix Community Development & Investment Corporation (administered by Phoenix IDA)

Milton Dohoney Jr., Chair of the Board of Directors

The Phoenix Community Development & Investment Corporation is a nonprofit organization with a mission to attract and provide funds for projects that will improve the quality of life of those individuals who live and work in underserved areas of the community. 

Funds & Eligibility

In March 2020, PCDIC began directing funds to nonprofit and small businesses to offer relief across the Valley. PCDIC’s goal was to lend and invest in the highest-impact areas to reach those in need, including individuals, families, business owners of small and micro businesses and nonprofit organizations. 

Payroll Protection Program Loans: PCDIC loaned the Business Development Finance Corporation ( $2 million to offer loans through the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. Loans were made available, up to $100,000, to for-profits, nonprofits, sole proprietors, independent contractors and self-employed individuals located in or near low-income census tracts within Maricopa county. 

BDFC approved 74 loans, averaging $27,000, to support a wide variety of small business types with an average of five employees. Loans were approved to cover operating expenses with a focus on keeping workers employed during these difficult times. 

Small Business Grants: PCDIC awarded $100,000 to Local First Arizona for the Small Business Relief Fund ( to provide mini-grants to Arizona’s smallest locally owned enterprises. Mini-grants were awarded in the amount of $1,000–$2,500 to micro-entrepreneurs (businesses with three or fewer employees, less than $250,000 in annual revenue, and approximately $35,000–$45,000 in net profits). Funds were intended to help micro-entrepreneurs cover immediate needs to care for their families until they could stabilize revenue and rebuild their businesses. 

Support for Nonprofit Organizations: PCDIC provided $1,100,000 to support the Arizona Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Community Response Fund with grants to small nonprofits. ACF and its donors, including PCDIC, awarded nearly 800 grants totaling more than $8 million to nonprofits across Arizona. This grant fund is no longer accepting applications. 

Nonprofit and Small-Business Loan Relief: In collaboration with community lenders, the PCDIC offers loans to nonprofit organizations and small businesses for projects that create a social impact. Loans, referred to as Community Impact Loans, are generally made to improve the lives of vulnerable populations and underserved communities. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the PCDIC has deferred loan payments for borrowers to offer relief.

Phoenix IDA

Juan Salgado, Chief Executive Officer

The Phoenix IDA is an entrepreneurial nonprofit organization focused on advancing economic growth and opportunity through access to capital. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Phoenix IDA pivoted quickly to allocate funds to support and offer emergency relief funds to Phoenix nonprofits and small businesses. 

Funds & Eligibility

Outlined below are the grant and loan programs lead or supported by the Phoenix IDA to reduce the economic and community effects of the crisis. 

Small Business Relief Grants: The Phoenix IDA, in coordination with the City of Phoenix and other funding partners, developed a grant program targeted to help local small businesses located in economically distressed areas of Phoenix. Up to $10,000 grants were offered to help small businesses experiencing loss of revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  • Round One (April 2020): Awarded 213 local small businesses a total of $1.8 million dollars — with an average of seven employees at time of application.
  • Round Two (May 2020–Present): Funding primarily provided by the federal CARES Act funds through the City of Phoenix; grants are available up to $10,000 to local small businesses experiencing loss of revenue during the past five months and located in economically distressed areas of Phoenix. Funding for small businesses is still available and the online application is open on the Arizona Community Foundation website 

Nonprofit Relief Grants: The Phoenix IDA provided $100,000 to the Arizona Community Foundation COVID-19 Community Response Fund to provide immediate relief to nonprofits and to support increased demand of services due to COVID-19. ACF and its partners, including the Phoenix IDA, awarded nearly 800 grants totaling approximately $3.7 million to nonprofits across Arizona. ACF is no longer accepting applications. 

Nonprofit Loan Relief: In collaboration with community lenders, the Phoenix IDA offers loans to nonprofit organizations and small businesses for projects that create a social impact. Loans, referred to as Community Impact Loans, are generally made to improve the lives of vulnerable populations and underserved communities. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Phoenix IDA has paused loan payments for borrowers to offer relief.

Small Business Loans: The Phoenix IDA loaned $5.5 million to Prestamos Community Development Finance Institution in April 2020 to support its Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program lending efforts (as a community development financial institution, Prestamos is certified to serve small businesses in low-income communities and minority and woman-owned businesses). Prestamos stopped accepting applications on August 8, 2020, after providing 121 loans with an average loan size of $26,000 to Phoenix small businesses and more to businesses across Arizona. The average size of Phoenix small businesses that received PPP loans through Prestamos was four employees. The funding was intended to incentivize business owners to keep their staff on payroll through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust

Mary Jane Rynd, President and CEO

Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust supports organizations that enrich health, well-being, and opportunity for the people of Maricopa County, Arizona, carrying on the philanthropic legacy of Virginia Galvin Piper, the wife of Motorola founder Paul V. Galvin. The Trust began grantmaking in Maricopa County in 2000 with Mrs. Piper’s endowment of $600 million. To date, the Trust has invested more than $482 million in local nonprofits and programs in the areas of healthcare and medical research, children, older adults, arts and culture, education, and religious organizations. 

Funds & Eligibility

Due the rapid onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, in March 2020, Trustees of Piper Trust took swift action to support Maricopa County nonprofits through intentional focus on understanding community need and awarding emergency grants. Typically, Piper Trust awards approximately $22 million annually in grants to Maricopa County nonprofits. Since March 2020 to date, the Trust has awarded $11,450,000 in emergency grants to community nonprofits in response to the pandemic and economic downturn. The following are some examples of Piper Trust emergency grants this year:

  • $2 million grant to Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute to develop preparedness responses to the novel coronavirus. 
  • $2,760,000 in grants to six hospital systems.
  • $1 million in grants to six community health centers.
  • $2,040,000 in grants to 28 human service organizations.
  • $2,200,000 in grants to 44 arts and culture organizations.

Currently, Piper Trust’s responsive ongoing/monthly grantmaking process is paused so that staff and Trustees can focus 100 percent on emergency grantmaking. Emergency grants are determined by Trustees of Piper Trust and not through an application process. Emergency grants to date have been awarded to existing Trust grantees that have service missions in the areas of healthcare and medical research, children, older adults, arts and culture, education, and religious organizations. 

Since March 2020 to mid-August, the Trust awarded $11,450,000 in emergency grants to community nonprofits in response to the pandemic and economic downturn. 

Trustees of Piper Trust are actively listening to the community and seek to be on the pulse of understanding need in the midst of the pandemic and economic crisis. They are in constant communication with each other and Trust staff about nonprofit grantmaking and ways to support the community. A “final dollar amount” for emergency grants has not been determined at this point; Trustees are willing to dip into its endowment if needed. 

Read the stories of the grantee businesses and nonprofits in the grantee section of
Great Impact: Funding Businesses and Nonprofits to Sustain Our Economy.

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