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The Rapid Response and Recovery Fund is infusing desperately needed dollars to agencies fighting to provide daily, ongoing support to our most vulnerable neighbors: those struggling with food insecurity, permanent housing, and health concerns. Equally important to the Foundation’s mission, we apply an equity and racial justice lens to our grant-making. The fund is combating the socioeconomic inequities exasperated by this virus, and is supporting the mental health and physical safety of all our community members. The Foundation continues to fundraise and distribute grants on a rolling basis.

In addition, The Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation’s leadership and tireless advocacy for our community led to a grant from the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund, a statewide fund set up by The United Way of Illinois and the Alliance of Illinois Community Foundations, in collaboration with the Office of Governor JB Pritzker. We are grateful for these additional monies, which were deployed immediately into the community.

IL COVID logoIllinois COVID-19 Response Fund grants are designated with this icon.

Rapid Response and Recovery Fund Impact

Click on the growing list of organizations below to learn more about their important work, and how grant dollars support their missions, and our community.

African American Christian Foundation

AACF impactThe African American Christian Foundation empowers young adults with employment and self-sufficiency, breaking the cycle of poverty. Through rental assistance for those that are furloughed, and placement at essential businesses, including a local pharmacy chain and a major package delivery service, AACF is ensuring economic stability for 70 youth.


age optionsOur grant supports AgeOptions' "Caring Together, Living Better" program in Bellwood, Cicero, Maywood and Melrose Park, partnering with 5 local churches/organizations to meet the needs expressed by local caregivers, including: information and assistance connecting with community resources; help with chores and errands; training for family caregivers to learn communication techniques and goal-setting skills; and stress management and drawing upon their faith for strength for caregiving.

Animal Care League

animal care leagueThe Animal Care League continues to offer animal services, and has adapted adoption policies and practices to maintain the health and safety of our community. Support from the Rapid Response and Recovery grant will kick off a new senior program; the Animal Care League is partnering with local social service agencies to combat the isolation many older adults may feel, and offset the financial burden of caring for their pets during the pandemic, by providing care packages for approximately 200 seniors and their animals.

Arbor West Neighbors

arbor west nieghbors Arbor West Neighbors used Rapid Response and Recovery funds to identify and mitigate the social isolation of older vulnerable adults in Oak Park, River Forest and Austin. This includes creation of a digital outreach tool to contact and inform older vulnerable adults about local and national online interactive and call in events. It also provided supplemental equipment and tutoring support for the residents of Mills Tower, a lower income affordable living facility for older adults with almost 200 units, to connect digitally with their loved ones during the pandemic.


Awake Awake has been supporting Berwyn families since 2015, offering leadership and educational programming, and community outreach, engagement and organizing for immigration justice. The impacts of the COVID-19 crisis have been especially devastating to residents working minimum-wage jobs or who are ineligible for government assistance due to their immigration status. Funding will support Awake’s Berwyn Community COVID-19 Assistance Fund operations, which provides direct financial assistance for rent, utilities, and other expenses to families of need.

Beyond Hunger

Beyond Hunger cropWith the increase in unemployment, many in our community are becoming increasingly worried about where their next meal is coming from, and are visiting the food pantry for the first time. Beyond Hunger has seen a 268% increase in first time visitors. They quickly shifted their organizational model to address a tripling of home food deliveries for those most at risk, from 85 households to 300 households.


buildBUILD (Broader Urban Involvement & Leadership Development) is one of Chicago's leading gang intervention, violence prevention, and youth development organizations. By offering both individualized as well as community-based programming, BUILD opens doors for youth who may have given up, helping them take charge of their lives, futures, and communities. Grant dollars will help BUILD maintain connection and support for 129 vulnerable youth, including wards of the state.

CBS Food Pantry

CBS Food Pantry The CBS Food Pantry serves to reduce hunger in the Cicero, Berwyn, Forest View and Stickney communities. Since the coronavirus pandemic, the pantry has experienced an unprecedented increased demand for food. In addition, costs for food purchases, food storage and food distribution also increased. Grant dollars from the Rapid Response and Relief fund will support operations for the CBS Food Pantry, and ensure 100-150 households per week will get the food and resources they need.

Collaboration for Early Childhood

Collaboration for Early Childhood Thanks to support from the Rapid Response and Recovery Fund, the Collaboration for Early Childhood is launching a new pilot research program, working with four community early care providers to determine best practices for operating early childhood centers during and after the coronavirus pandemic. This pilot program will include determining the mental and physical health needs of children and early childhood educators, and will produce guidance on how to best handle all health & safety protocols, which will then be distributed to the early childhood community.

Farmworker and Landscaper Advocacy Project

farmworkerProyecto De Ayuda Para Trabajadores Del Campo Y Jardineros - Farmworker and Landscaper Advocacy Project’s mission is to improve working conditions and support immigrant workers’ rights, through community outreach and education, information and referrals, and partnering with other organizations to fight human labor trafficking and prevent family separations by helping immigrants secure dual citizenship for their children. Grant dollars provided cash transfers to low income clients to supplement wage loss caused by COVID-19. Funding will also support the expansion of services to Cicero, Berwyn, Maywood, Oak Park and River Forest.

HEPH Foundation

HEPH Foundation HEPH Foundation offers enrichment programs in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) in partnership with area schools, including D97 and CPS, particularly for vulnerable youth, to bridge the achievement gap and address a lack of engagement in the sciences. With support from the Rapid Response and Recovery Fund, HEPH Foundation will serve up to 2,000 students impacted by school closures with virtual STEAM programming and support.

Hephzibah Children's Association (IL)

Hephzibah Children's Association IL Quarantine requirements had major impacts on Hephzibah's home and family services. Family visits to children in the home, and staff visits to foster homes were not possible, causing major implications on the well being of children. Rapid Response and Recovery funding is supporting technology needs associated with migration to tele-therapy services, including staff training and purchase of equipment.

Housing Forward

HFvolunteerHousing Forward provides comprehensive, long term solutions for preventing and ending homelessness. In early spring, they transitioned 75 community members from rotating shelters to individual accommodations, allowing vulnerable homeless individuals a safe space to shelter-in-place. The organization is currently transitioning a total of 110 individuals and families from temporary hotels to permanent homes, anticipating completion in September.

Howard Brown Health

howard brown healthHoward Brown Health is supporting COVID-19 testing for vulnerable families on the south and west sides. Black and Latinx LGBTQ+ youth of color are disproportionately at risk; longstanding issues of trust with institutions that have caused harm to them and their communities have created barriers to reaching these populations for testing. With Rapid Response and Recovery funding, Howard Brown and trusted organizational partners are able to provide free COVID-19 testing and healthcare support in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago via mobile testing units; the agency also has enhanced its call center screenings and shared contact tracing practices to better reach these vulnerable youth.

Leyden Family Service and Mental Health Center

LeydenLeyden Family Service and Mental Health Center was able to procure new necessary equipment, and deliver technology training and patient outreach techniques for staff, to quickly shift to tele-health and video-therapy. Thanks to their dedication, an estimated 300 clients in our community and surrounding western Cook county and neighboring northern suburbs, had access to essential mental health services the past two months.

New Moms

NewMomsNew Moms has seen an increased need for emergency deliveries of diapers, formula, and cleaning supplies and so far has delivered essential items to 95 families in the community and living in their housing facilities: an estimated $7,000 in critical supplies to help keep families safe at home.

Sarah's Inn

sarahs inn impactSocial distancing and self-isolation results in unintended safety consequences for victims of domestic violence. Sarah's Inn is providing housing and emergency financial assistance, including rent, mortgage and utility relief, and gift cards for groceries and other basic necessities, to approximately 250 adults and children over the next three months.


sister houseSisterHouse is an in-home recovery program for women struggling with addiction, homelessness, domestic violence, and untreated mental illness. With a grant from the Rapid Response and Recovery Fund, SisterHouse is able to continue an environment of care, security and peace, empowering 15 women to gain self-esteem, and achieve independent living.

The Progress Center for Independent Living

progress ctrThe Progress Center for Independent Living works to provide people with disabilities the tools to be healthy, safe, and independent in their own homes. This spring, The Progress Center continued ensuring home services are not disrupted, including the critical support of personal assistants; securing new residences so that clients can move into accessible and affordable homes without delay; supporting individuals and families who have lost their jobs or have been forced to live with higher expenses because of COVID-19; and helping people find answers within the changing landscape of public benefits and COIVD-19. Grant dollars focused on emergency family assistance for rent and utilities.

The Way Back Inn and Grateful House

way backThe Way Back Inn and Grateful House in Maywood serves adult men and women who are suffering from alcohol, drug, and gambling dependence. The overall goal is to help clients achieve continuous sobriety via a recovery program that focuses on the integration of the body, mind, and spirit. Addiction has seen a marked increase this spring; alcohol sales are up 50% in Oak Park. Grant dollars support the program’s migration to tele-services and additional hours for staff, to meet the increased need for services as addiction grows due to our current situation.

Thrive Counseling Center

thriveThrive Counseling Center rapidly converted to a teletherapy model to ensure clients' continued access to counseling and psychiatric support. Thrive also launched a new service, the Thrive Check-In line, offering free phone support to all who need it, and a Thrive Town Hall weekly Zoom forum for sharing tips and strategies for dealing with the quarantine's impact. Thrive served 694 clients with counseling, crisis intervention and psychiatric services in Oak Park, River Forest, and other West Cook County suburbs from mid-March to mid-May.

West Cook YMCA

YMCA cropThe COVID-19 pandemic closed 85% of all child care programs in Illinois. The West Cook YMCA responded swiftly, converting their facility to an emergency child care center, exclusively for families of first responders and healthcare workers that need a safe place for their child to be while they go into work. The childcare center has served 50 families since its spring opening.


yembaYEMBA’s mission is to educate youth mentally, physically and spiritually with a life-long learning and service experience through group mentorship, which will equip them with knowledge and tools for leadership development and success in life. Grant dollars will maintain YEMBA’s connection and support for vulnerable youth in Oak Park and River Forest, and allow programming to continue through online mentoring.

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