In a planned message to Kern Community Foundation Fundholders, President and CEO Kristen Beall
Watson prepared the following hopeful Community Impact Report:
“In mid-March, the Foundation established the Kern County COVID-19 Relief Fund to address the
immediate and longer-term needs of our region’s most vulnerable residents impacted by the Corona
Since then, she wrote, the fund has:
- Received $277,000 in corporate and individual donations;
- Issued $252,100 in five rounds of grants to Kern and Tulare County nonprofits using an expedited grant application and evaluation process, with the largest portion of grants supporting basic needs such as shelter, food and clothing for impacted individuals and families;
- And, just last week, set up the donation infrastructure for the Food for the Frontline effort “to provide meals prepared by local restaurants for Kern County emergency room staff. To date over $30,000 has been raised and hundreds of meals (670 at the last count) have been delivered to local area hospitals.”
But then she offered a sobering reflection: “While response to these efforts represents the largest
outpouring of support we have seen for any type of community disaster, the requests far exceed the
available resources. Since mid-March we have received more than 123 grant applications
requesting nearly $1.4 Million.”
Indeed, the 84 grants awarded so far are small, ranging from $500 to $15,000 each. Some of the
organizations that have received funding include: Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault,
Salvation Army, Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County, Community Action Partnership of Kern Food Bank,
Bags 4 Kids, Adventist Health Hope Program, Wounded Heroes Fund, Bakersfield Senior Center and
California Rural Legal Assistance.
Grant requests continue to come in through the Foundation’s Online Grants Portal,
There is much to be hopeful for, however.
Contrary to what one might imagine in light of COVID-19’s fiscal impact on many individual household
incomes as well as corporate earnings, giving is actually on the rise. This has been reported by the
Foundation’s fundraising technical assistance partner Network for Good (NFG), which saw a 20%
increase in the total donations they received in March of this year vs. March of 2019.
The Foundation itself has witnessed an increase in donations to nonprofits participating in its Give Big
Kern Online Day of Giving. In the 10-day period beginning April 5, whengivebigkern.org went live to
receive donations on behalf of more than 130 fundraising nonprofits, $75,002 had already come in—
representing a 23% increase over the $61,104.50 received in the first 10 days of the 2019 Give Big
Kern campaign period.
“During these turbulent times, it is wonderful to see the giving spirit of Kern County shining brightly,”
Beall Watson said. “By coming together in support of so many in need, we undoubtedly foster a more
resilient and compassionate community.”
Give Big Kern is an ideal vehicle for giving to charities the public feels passionate about. A number of
participating agencies, including many that had to cancel spring fundraising events, are pivoting their
message to make potential donors aware of immediate—and dire—needs brought about as a result of
the crisis. To give to nonprofits through Give Big Kern between now Give Big Kern Day, May 5,
just visitgivebigkern.org, search for an organization by name or cause, find your passion, and give!
Those wishing to contribute to the Kern County COVID-19 Relief Fund, or the Food for the Frontline
effort, can make a secure, tax-deductible donation in one of the following ways:
- Online for COVID Relief: atkernfoundation.org > Give Now > Kern County COVID-19 Relief Fund; or
- Online for Food for the Frontline: atkernfoundation.org/events;
By check or phone for either:
- By mailing a check to Kern Community Foundation, 3300 Truxtun Avenue, Suite 220,Bakersfield, CA 93301, specifying “Kern County COVID-19 Relief Fund” or “Food for the Frontline” in the memo; or
- By phone using a major credit card. Please call 661.325.5346 Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.