Aug. 29, 2023 (Jacksonville, Fla.) – The First Coast Relief Fund, in partnership with the Together Strong Community Fund, is mobilizing contributions to address immediate needs and long-term systemic racial inequities following the New Town shooting motivated by anti-Black racism that took the lives of three victims.
The Relief Fund, Northeast Florida’s community crisis response fund, is a collaboration among the region’s largest funders, designed to maximize the impact of tax-deductible donations to support the local community when a crisis sparks an outpouring of generosity from local and national donors. The Relief Fund was originally conceptualized after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando and has successfully responded to two hurricanes and the COVID-19 pandemic. The Together Strong Community Fund is the newest partner in the collaboration, focused on combating the root causes of bias.
“The First Coast Relief Fund is a proven partnership that maximizes resources flowing into our community and distributes them to nonprofits via a fair, thoughtful process,” said Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan. “We’re grateful to see the collaboration stepping forward as our community needs support for a variety of crises this week.”
In this work, the Relief Fund welcomes the Together Strong Community Fund, founded by David Miller on behalf of the Miller Families under the management of the Jewish Federation & Foundation of Northeast Florida, as the newest partner of the First Coast Relief Fund. The Together Strong Community Fund was formed to advance community-wide conversation and education following the display of hate speech in downtown Jacksonville in 2022.
“My family is fiercely devoted to making the greater Jacksonville community a place where everyone can feel safe and reach their personal potential,” said David Miller, founder of the Together Strong Community Fund, which includes lead gifts from VyStar Credit Union, the Jacksonville Jaguars, Florida Blue, CSX and Haskell. “The time is now to forge alliances and promote healing, conversation, and education.”
A generous gift from the Together Strong Community Fund has already been pledged to the Relief Fund to support this effort in addressing immediate needs and long-term systemic racial inequities.
The founding partners in the collaboration include the United Way of Northeast Florida, United Way of St. Johns County, The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, the Jewish Federation & Foundation of Northeast Florida, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, and now, the Together Strong Community Fund, based at the Jewish Federation & Foundation.
The partners in the collaboration share a longstanding commitment to racial equity and promoting understanding across religious differences, among other dimensions of diversity. Grants will be made through a committee of local leaders that includes representation from the partners as well as local experts on the issues of healing from trauma and racial equity.
The grants will fund solutions that provide support and relief to those affected by this weekend’s mass shooting as well as address systemic issues that have created disparities in our communities. Areas of grants could include community mobilization, grief counseling and capacity building for organizations directly addressing racial inequities.
“The First Coast Relief Fund uses an established grantmaking process to ensure that donors’ resources are distributed to vetted, effective organizations closest to the needs of our community,” said Isaiah Oliver, president of The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida. “The Relief Fund is a near-term fundraising option for donors and has the capability to distribute funds that address the medium- and longer-term needs of the community as we make progress against all forms of hate in our region.”
“Our Northeast Florida community was rocked by an act of hate, and it will be united by acts of love from our City, foundations, corporations and individuals whose support is flowing in from near and far,” said Melanie Patz, president and Chief Executive Officer of United Way of Northeast Florida. “Nonprofits across our region are doing the difficult work to help our community heal and create a safer, more inclusive shared future.”
Past donors include foundations, corporations, public agencies and individuals. Since its inception in 2016, the Relief Fund has distributed nearly $9 million through 251 grants to 128 unique organizations in Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau, Putnam, and St. Johns counties. Response efforts to date include Hurricane Matthew in 2016, Hurricane Irma in 2017 and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
The Relief Fund’s most recent activation, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, once again demonstrated our community’s willingness to support those most in need, no matter the type of crisis faced: more than $5.5 million in funding was disbursed to 112 nonprofits providing assistance with mortgage and rent payments, food assistance and utility bills. In 2017, donors contributed more than $3.97 million to the Relief Fund in response to Hurricane Irma, with $3.56 million awarded to 33 organizations who connected First Coast residents with the resources they needed. Learn more at firstcoastrelieffund.org.
HOW TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE FIRST COAST RELIEF FUND
- Online: firstcoastrelieffund.org/donate
- Text: HEALINGJAX to 50503
- By check: Pay to the order of First Coast Relief Fund and mail to: First Coast Relief Fund, 40 E. Adams St., Suite 310, Jacksonville, FL 32202. Please note “Healing Jax” in the memo of the check.
HOW TO ACCESS FREE MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
- The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support via phone for people in distress, including resources for you or your loved ones and best practices for professionals. Dial 9-8-8 on your phone, or visit unitedwaynefl.org/988.
- United Way 211 is a free information and referral hotline available 24 hours, seven days a week to connect callers to emergency resources, including crisis response efforts.
The Fund is also monitoring Hurricane Idalia and is poised to support that effort, when and if needed.
About United Way of Northeast Florida
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. The organization’s mission is to solve Northeast Florida’s toughest challenges by connecting people, resources and ideas. United Way focuses on improving economic mobility in the following impact areas: basic needs, financial well-being and racial equity. The nonprofit organization’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 unitedwaynefl.org, or follow United Way of Northeast Florida on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.
About United Way of St. Johns County
United Way-SJC fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in St. Johns County. For 60 years, this has been done by strategically investing in quality programs, building partnerships, advocating for better policies, engaging the community and leveraging resources to focus on community problems that matter most. Success is measured not by dollars raised, but by lives improved and changed. www.unitedway-sjc.org
About The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida
The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, Florida’s oldest and largest community foundation, works to stimulate philanthropy to build a better community. The Foundation helps donors invest their philanthropic gifts wisely, helps nonprofits serve the region effectively, and helps people come together to make the community a better place. Now in its 58th year, the Foundation has assets of $630 million and has made nearly $640 million in grants since 1964. For more information: www.jaxcf.org.
About the Jessie Ball duPont Fund
The Jessie Ball duPont Fund is a private foundation that works to expand access to opportunity and create inclusive growth for the people, organizations and communities that Jessie Ball duPont knew and loved. We envision a world in which every member of those communities feels they belong, and is engaged in shaping the future of their community. We use our grantmaking, investments, research and partnerships to increase equitable access to opportunities and resources for members of society who have historically been excluded, and placemaking to build stronger communities where all voices are heard and valued. Learn more at www.dupontfund.org.
About the Jewish Federation & Foundation of Northeast Florida
The Jewish Federation & Foundation of Northeast Florida mobilizes volunteer and financial resources to inspire engagement in Jewish life and assure a Jewish future in the local community, Israel, and around the world. Through the support of an annual campaign and Foundation, Federation helps to support members of our community by providing for health, education and welfare, and ensuring the dignity of life. For more information, visit jewishjacksonville.org.
About the Miller Families, Founders of the Together Strong Community Foundation
The Miller Families’ mission is to create positive change in the communities we touch by fostering innovation, collaboration, and measurable impact by leveraging resources and using Jewish values as our guide. Their vision is for our community to be an inclusive place of hope where all individuals have the opportunity to reach their personal potential in a just and equitable society.
United Way of Northeast Florida
Senior Director, Marketing and Communications
The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida
Stephanie Garry Garfunkel
VP, Strategic Communications
Jessie Ball duPont Fund
Jewish Federation & Foundation of Northeast Florida