Governor Charlie Baker and First Lady Lauren Baker announced a new initiative on Monday, dubbed the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund, to help people around the state whose lives have been disrupted by the pandemic.
The fund is being launched with $13 million in gifts, mostly from philanthropists. Cofounders Lauren Baker and Joanna Jacobson hope to grow that number quickly. Baker and Jacobson, who is president of the One8 Foundation in Boston, have been raising money for the past week for the fund.
“I’m really proud of the way Massachusetts always steps up,” Baker said in an interview. “I had no doubt when we first came up with this idea, that the people of Massachusetts would step up again."
The new fund is specifically aimed at helping vulnerable populations, such as people facing homelessness, hunger, and the loss of critical services due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The money will be distributed to charitable organizations across the state.
The mission and approach make this initiative similar to the Boston Resiliency Fund, established last month. That fund has raised more than $22 million so far, and has already begun to distribute grants to organizations in Boston. But Baker said she thought it was important to have a fund that addressed needs statewide, particularly in communities that lack the wealth or corporate presence found in the state’s largest city.
One8 has hired Jonathan Raymond to be the Massachusetts fund’s executive director. An advisory committee that is still being established will oversee the distribution of funds. One8 has donated $1.8 million to the fund, and has also set aside an additional $100,000 to pay Raymond and for other administrative expenses, Jacobson said. The fund will be administered by Eastern Bank. A nonprofit affiliate of Eastern Bank called the Foundation for Business Equity will be a fiscal sponsor for the fund, as will The Boston Foundation.
The mission of the state fund is broad, but its organizers hope to reach the following populations: health care professionals and first responders, households disproportionately affected by COVID-19, immigrants, the homeless population, and people with disabilities.
Information about donating can be found at: macovid19relieffund.org.