June 3, 2020
Mental health major focus of new ECCF COVID-19 Grants

With support from MA COVID-19 Relief Fund, $805,000 awarded to Essex County nonprofits

Danvers, MA — Mental health providers are preparing for the “tsunami of need” that is heading their way in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The demand for mental health support – especially among Essex County’s most vulnerable populations – continues to rise as fear and anxiety about the virus, unemployment and social isolation build.

This surging mental health crisis is a major focus of the next round of grants from Essex County Community Foundation’s Essex County COVID-19 Response Fund, established in March to support nonprofits on the frontlines of the pandemic response.

Announced today, this fifth round of grants – totaling $805,000 – includes $415,000 directed towards nonprofits focused on mental health and substance use disorders.

“The fallout from the pandemic continues to raise concerns about health and, for many people, where the money for groceries and next month’s rent will come from,” said ECCF President and CEO Beth Francis. “This sustained worry – compounded by the stress associated with social isolation – means many residents are constantly on edge.”

“Anxiety and fear are also significant for those on the front lines, many of whom are concerned about being exposed or bringing the virus home to their families,” added Francis. “Living with any of these worries for weeks and months on end requires mental health support.”

The increased demand for mental health services is tapping into a healthcare system already strapped for resources. Community health care centers and other nonprofit organizations offering these services – which struggled pre-COVID – are reporting a grave mental health workforce shortage, especially of bi- and multilingual mental health professionals.

“What’s more is that the shift towards telehealth – which requires access to devices and a reliable internet connection or hefty data plan – means that many poor residents cannot gain access to this new form of care,” said Carol Lavoie Schuster, ECCF’s vice president for grants, nonprofits, and donor services. “This is resulting in a doubling of patients at emergency mental health walk-in centers.”

Additional Grants

In addition to the $415,000 in grants for nonprofits focused on mental health and substance use disorders, this round of grants is also providing support for emergency childcare ($152,500); food and other basic needs ($37,500); support for seniors ($55,000), the disabled ($87,500), the homeless ($15,000) the economically disadvantaged ($35,000) and frontline healthcare workers ($7,500).

[See attached list of Essex County COVID-19 Response Fund fifth-round grantees grouped by service area.]

This total round of nonprofit support is made possible by $650,000 in funding from the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund, established by First Lady Lauren Baker and the One8 Foundation to support those across the Commonwealth most impacted by COVID-19. This statewide fund works in concert with regional community foundations to strategically fill in where gaps are pronounced.

“As needs evolve and emerge, ECCF is once again so grateful to the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund for supporting us in our mission to get funding to the organizations and people who need it most,” said Francis. “This partnership has significantly increased our ability to positively impact the cities and towns of Essex County.”

To date, ECCF has awarded nearly $2.7 million through 170 grants to nonprofits battling COVID-19 and the resulting fallout from the virus.

“Unfortunately, the effects of this pandemic will not be going away anytime soon,” said Francis. “Our nonprofit community – and the residents they serve – will need our support for a long time to come and ECCF is in this for the long haul.”

You can help those most affected by the COVID-19 crisis by supporting our region’s nonprofits on the front lines. Donate today to the Essex County COVID-19 Response Fund on this page.

About ECCF
The mission of Essex County Community Foundation is to inspire philanthropy that strengthens the communities of Essex County. We do this by managing charitable assets, strengthening and supporting nonprofits, and engaging in strategic community leadership. Since 1998, ECCF and its family of more than 230 charitable funds have granted $85 million to nonprofits, schools, and students in Essex County and beyond. Our ultimate goal is to have 34 thriving cities and towns in Essex County and to improve the quality of life for the region’s nearly 800,000 residents. Learn more at

About the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund
The Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund supports those across the state most impacted by the COVID-19 health crisis, focusing on essential frontline workers and vulnerable populations including the homeless, immigrant populations, people with disabilities, and those facing food insecurity. The Fund works in concert with regional community foundations and non-profit leaders who partner with local leaders to understand the response and relief landscape, strategically filling in where gaps are pronounced. For more information, visit

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