Kessler Foundation awarded nearly $1 million in COVID-19 emergency grant funding for nonprofits faced with the challenges of serving people with disabilities in New Jersey. The recipient organizations were current or former grantees of Kessler Foundation's employment grant program. Since 2005, the Foundation's grants program has awarded more than $49 million to nonprofits that expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities striving to work, adding diversity to American workplaces and boosting productivity.
"When the pandemic reached New Jersey, the effects on our grantees were devastating," noted Elaine E. Katz, senior vice president of the Center for Grant-making and Communications at the Foundation. "Being in the front lines of serving people with disabilities, a population at higher risk for infection complicated the ability of our grantees to adapt to this new reality. To help these organizations remain viable, we knew we needed to respond immediately."
Kessler Foundation quickly established the COVID-19 Emergency Fund, which provided 37 emergency grants of $10,000 to $40,000 to help with unanticipated needs and expenses. A rapid response team was formed to review and approve applications. Technology was often the priority for organizations rapidly converting to remote operations – for their staff, as well as for their clients with disabilities who now needed alternatives to connect with their families, teachers, and counselors.