As the COVID-19 situation unfolds, individuals and families throughout Middle Tennessee are being impacted. Bars and restaurants are closing or reducing their capacities, schools and childcare centers are unable to open, and businesses are seeing diminishing revenues at a drastic pace.
The economic effects will be immense, particularly for those living paycheck to paycheck — with many local families still struggling to recover from the city’s recent tornadoes. Many Nashvillians are now finding their path to stable housing and financial stability even more challenging.
In response to the public health emergency declared by the Metropolitan Board of Health on March 15, Nashville Mayor John Cooper — along with philanthropic, corporate, and government partners — has created the COVID-19 Response Fund at United Way of Greater Nashville. The Fund’s advisory committee will be chaired by former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, MD.
“We urge everyone to assist each other while remaining vigilant to the limitations imposed by social distancing,” Mayor Cooper said. “One easy way to help those directly affected by the economic restrictions caused by the coronavirus is to provide monetary support to the COVID-19 Response Fund.”
The COVID-19 Response Fund was established to quickly and effectively address both the health and economic challenges of this virus. Chaired by former Senator Dr. Bill Frist, the Fund will rapidly deploy resources to community-based organizations, getting dollars to where they are needed most.
“For Nashville to rebound as quickly as possible, we need to be sure that all our local employees, particularly those in our entertainment and hospitality industry, have our support,” Cooper continued. “This Fund has been created to help with that effort.”
The fund will focus its initial allocations on helping those experiencing lost wages or who become ill from the virus to receive the assistance needed to stay in their homes and keep food on the table. It will launch with more than $1 million, and any administrative overhead will be covered by generous philanthropic partners, thereby allowing 100% of the money raised to directly benefit those in need. The first donation of $500,000 was made by the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp., whose hospitality industry partners are among the most impacted due to mandatory closures and other restrictions.
“It was an easy decision to step up and support efforts to bring relief to those who make our hospitality industry ‘work’ and the many others in need,” stated Butch Spyridon, the NCVC’s President and CEO.
Funds will be released on a rolling basis as fundraising continues throughout the outbreak and recovery phases of the crisis, making it possible to move resources rapidly and to adapt to evolving needs in subsequent funding phases. The advisory committee will work to get these dollars into the community quickly, funding nonprofit partners, community-based organizations and service providers working directly with those disproportionally impacted by this challenging landscape.
“People are really going to be struggling to make ends meet and we want to do everything we can to show them that we are here to help,” stated Brian Hassett, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Nashville. “This is an opportunity for our community to come together and demonstrate that we believe in supporting each other in times of need. Nashville did just that in the days following the tornadoes and we can do it again as we face this new crisis.”
Members of the advisory committee will work with the Mayor’s Office and United Way to quickly assess the needs and make rapid funding decisions to ensure a thorough and efficient process. The committee members will include:
Angie Adams: President and CEO, PENCIL
Katina Beard, MSPH: CEO Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center
Maneet Chauhan and Vivek Deora: Founders and Partners of Morph Hospitality
Robert Dittus, MD., MPH: Director of Institute for Medicine and Public Health
Mary Falls: Senior Advisor, Office of Mayor John Cooper
Sen. Bill Frist, MD (Chair)
Joe Galante: Chair CMA Foundation Board, former CEO and chair of Sony Music Nashville
Pastor Robert Gardenhire: Minister Schrader Lane Church of Christ
Benjamin Goldberg: Founder and Co-owner, Strategic Hospitality
Wanda Lyle: Managing Director – General Manager UBS Business Solutions Center Nashville
Rob Mortenson: President/CEO TN Hospitality Association
Juliana Ospina Cano: Executive Director, Conexion Americas
Brad Rayson: President SEIU Local 205
Butch Spyridon: President and CEO, Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation
Consuelo Wilkins, MD, MSCI: VP for Health Equity, Vanderbilt University, Executive Director Meharry Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance
For more information about the COVID-19 Response Fund, or to make a donation, visit unitedwaynashville.org/covid-19.
For general information about Nashville’s response, visit covid19.nashville.gov.