Member News

Clowes Fund Uses Principal to Award COVID-19 Relief Grants

Thursday, July 16, 2020

The Clowes Fund announced its grantmaking response to the economic and human services crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fund will double its grantmaking commitment by spending an additional five-percent more than its typical grantmaking through a $3.2 million draw from the corpus of its endowment in 2020 to support grantmaking in 2020 and in 2021. 

According to Beth Casselman, the foundation’s executive director, The Clowes Fund board recognizes that this is an exceptional crisis that requires an exceptional response. She said that the board approved spending an additional $2 million in 2020 and reserved $1.2 million to supplement grantmaking in 2021.

Edith Bowles, Clowes Fund vice president, said that it is entirely possible to respond exceptionally without unduly damaging the long-term fiscal health of the foundation. She said, “Failure to respond in an exceptional manner would likely cause the Fund board and staff to look back with regret.” 

The additional grantmaking includes two rounds of unsolicited emergency grants in 2020 and supplemental funding for the foundation’s regular competitive grants budget in 2020 and 2021. The reserve for 2021 is in recognition that the increased need for services will continue next year while Fund assets may be depressed.

In July the Fund awarded the larger of its two rounds of emergency grants for a total of $1,375,000 to 22 organizations that work with immigrants and refugees as well as workforce development, especially direct employment. Indianapolis area grants range from $50,000 to Exodus Refugee Immigration, Inc. to $150,000 to Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) for a comprehensive set of loans for minority-owned businesses. 

The Clowes Fund awarded its first round of 21 small emergency grants in May, mostly in the range of $10,000 for a total of $220,000. The first round was directed primarily to food banks, such as Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, and select other front-line organizations, especially those that support immigrants and other populations who may not be eligible for other types of relief funding, such as the Undocumented Hoosiers Fund of the Indiana Undocumented Youth Alliance, administered by Broadway United Methodist Church.

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