About First Coast Relief Fund
The First Coast Relief Fund is dedicated to helping Northeast Florida residents in times of crisis by providing critical support through nonprofits when their resources and capacity are strained. Five of the area’s leading philanthropic organizations joined together to create the Relief Fund: The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, Jewish Federation & Foundation of Northeast Florida, United Way of Northeast Florida and United Way of St. Johns County. The First Coast Relief Fund was conceptualized by its founding organizations in early 2016, and was quickly activated in October of that year to respond to the local devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew.
These local foundations continued to work together to raise funding and support local response efforts in times of crisis. Following Hurricane Matthew, the Relief Fund was activated to help in two subsequent emergencies: the destructive Hurricane Irma in 2017 and the devastating COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.
Activation of the Fund
When activated, the First Coast Relief Fund serves as a central intake for charitable donations and then quickly distributes donations through established, local nonprofit organizations with deep experience in disaster assistance. The overhead costs are also covered, which allows 100 percent of all donations gathered from the community to be used directly for relief efforts. The First Coast Relief Fund is a collaborative partnership of the Northeast Florida nonprofits as listed at the bottom of this page, with United Way of Northeast Florida serving as the partnership’s fiscal agent.
History of Impact
Since its inception, the Relief Fund has distributed almost $9 million through 251 grants to more than 128 unique organizations in its six-county service area, including Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns counties. Strengthened by its partners, the Relief Fund still endures – collecting and distributing funds during times of crisis, then closing once the community transitions to long-term recovery solutions so it’s ready to provide critical aid when needed again.
The Relief Fund was created quickly to assist in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. This very first response effort for the Relief Fund was successful thanks to individuals, corporations and other funders who gave generously, rapidly raising $545,208. These donations enabled the Relief Fund to reinforce the hurricane response efforts of dozens of nonprofits, supporting their work to:
- provide shelter and food for more than 6,000 families
- arrange debris removal for the elderly
- help residents meet basic rent and utility expenses
- connect people with case managers and other sources of support
The unspent funds raised during this crisis also laid the foundation to ensure the Relief Fund endured as a permanent disaster relief fund for Northeast Florida.
The Relief Fund was reactivated for the second time in September 2017 to assist with the damage caused by Hurricane Irma. More than $3.79 million in donations were received, with $3.56 million awarded to 33 organizations who connected First Coast residents with the resources they needed. Key milestones and results from the Hurricane Irma response effort:
- 253,231 individuals/households were supported with multiple services
- The Relief Fund received its first million-dollar gift in its history, which was from Shad Khan and the Jacksonville Jaguars
- The majority of dollars helped with home/nonprofit stabilization and repair; mortgage and rent; and food assistance.
The Relief Fund’s most recent activation in March 2020 was in response to the devastating financial challenges of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Once again, the community rose to the challenge with foundations, corporations, individuals and the City of Jacksonville donating $5.5 million to the Relief Fund between mid-March and mid-September. This is the Relief Fund’s largest response effort to date. Funds were disbursed to 112 nonprofits that used the money throughout the six-county service area community to help:
- 408,477 individuals and 88,441 households with various services
- provide mortgage and rent payments, utility bill assistance and food for individuals and families affected by COVID-19
- nonprofits leverage the Relief Fund dollars to further support their clients
Since the First Coast Relief Fund is designed only for immediate response needs, it is not active at this time. As intended, the Relief Fund retains a balance of approximately $240,000 so it remains poised to respond immediately when/if the next crisis arises.
About Relief Fund Partners
The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida (jaxcf.org), Florida’s oldest and largest community foundation, works to stimulate philanthropy that builds a better community. The Foundation helps donors invest their philanthropic gifts wisely. It helps nonprofits serve the region effectively, and it helps people come together to make the community a better place. Now in its 58th year, the Foundation has assets of $630.4 million (12/31/2021) and has made grants of nearly $640 million since 1964.
People contribute when and where they feel they belong. The Jessie Ball duPont Fund is committed to creating communities of belonging for the people, organizations and places that Jessie Ball duPont knew and loved. To learn more, visit www.dupontfund.org.
The Jewish Federation of Jacksonville is a fundraising organization supporting the members of our community and providing for health, education and welfare while ensuring the dignity of life. For more information, visit jewishjacksonville.org.
Founded in 1924, United Way of Northeast Florida has earned a reputation as a respected and efficient philanthropic organization. United Way envisions a community of opportunity where everyone has hope and can reach their full potential. Because change doesn’t happen alone, United Way’s mission is to solve Northeast Florida’s toughest challenges by connecting people, resources and ideas. The nonprofit organization focuses on comprehensive basic needs, high-quality education, good health and well-being and financial security. United Way’s long tradition of addressing the human-service needs in Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau and Northern St. Johns counties is made possible through the commitment of thousands of volunteers, donors and community partners. To learn more, visit www.unitedwaynefl.org, or follow United Way of Northeast Florida on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.
The only organization of its type in St. Johns County, United Way-SJC brings together agencies, businesses, organizations, faith-based groups, government and individuals to focus on community problems that matter most. Partners share their vision and contribute the energy, passion, expertise and resources to get the work done. For almost 60 years, United Way-SJC has improved lives and built a strong, healthy community by strategically investing in quality programs, building partnerships, advocating for better policies, engaging the community and leveraging resources. www.unitedway-sjc.org