Million-dollar commitments pour into COVID-19 response fund, more than $9M raised

LendingTree, Charlotte City Council pledge $2 million to coronavirus response fund

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - More than $9 million has now raised for a community-wide fund to assist Mecklenburg County community members affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

Foundation For The Carolinas and United Way of Central Carolinas launched the COVID-19 Response Fund to support a range of organizations assisting members of the community, particularly those most vulnerable.

According to a press release, the fund will retain flexibility to respond to evolving and emerging needs.

The initial priority is to address the immediate basic human needs of residents by deploying resources to trusted organizations that respond to, and are impacted by, the coronavirus outbreak. The fund will work in concert with local leaders and officials to complement government interventions and investments.

Charlotte-based LendingTree and Charlotte City Council committed a combined $2 million to the fund this week.

LendingTree’s $1 million commitment announcement was made Monday before the Charlotte City Council meeting. Following the announcement, Mayor Vi Lyles announced the City of Charlotte would match the $1 million gift with $1 million in public-sector support.

On Tuesday, the Howard R. Levine Foundation and Truist Financial Corporation each committed $1 million to COVID-19 Response Fund, while Mecklenburg County committed $1.3 million.

On Thursday, Bank of America and the David A. Tepper Charitable Foundation each donated $1M to the COVID-19 Fund, according to a press release from the United Way of Central Carolinas.

On Friday, Lowe’s made a $1.5 million to support the COVID-19 Response Fund.

The fund has collected more than $9 million in donations in just five days.

“There is no way of knowing the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s important we act now so that assistance is available when it’s needed most,” said Doug Lebda, founder and CEO of LendingTree. “The COVID-19 Response Fund will empower our community to aid key organizations responding to the unforeseen challenges and needs that result from this crisis, from human services to healthcare to economic assistance and more. We all have an important role to play, and LendingTree is committed to helping our community during this unprecedented time of need.”

“Charlotte has always had robust private-sector support, particularly in times of crisis, which is why it is important for the City to respond to Doug Lebda and LendingTree’s lead gift of $1 million,” said Lyles. “We will commit to matching Doug’s gift and challenging the community with a $1 million commitment. We also know that our efforts are amplified through public-private partnerships, and together, we will face this crisis.”

The commitment from the Howard R. Levine Foundation was the first major gift from a family foundation.

“The COVID-19 pandemic will affect our community in ways we have not yet imagined, and our nonprofits will be called on like never before, while experiencing financial strain themselves,” said Howard Levine. “Yesterday, the corporate and civic sectors stepped up to the plate to support this fund, and I know it’s critical that private philanthropy plays a role as well. That’s why I’ve committed $1 million to support organizations that will be aiding those in our community that need it the most.”

Truist was recently formed from a merger between BB&T and SunTrust banks and located its headquarters in Charlotte. Metrolina Region President Heath Campbell said it was important for Truist to support the community.

“Now is the time for us to come together, because the coronavirus pandemic is a challenge unlike any we’ve seen in the recent past,” Campbell said. “At Truist, we care about this community we now call home. It’s important for us to join this effort to help those who need it the most. Through the COVID-19 Response Fund, we can get funds directly to the agencies that are directly serving the most vulnerable among us.”

Mecklenburg County also committed $1.3 million to the COVID-19 Response Fund on Tuesday night. The County Commission voted in favor of the commitment after the two gifts were announced.

“At Bank of America, supporting our community and responding to some of the biggest challenges we face in our headquarters city is what we do,” said Charles Bowman, Bank of America Charlotte Market President. “Many of those who live here, like many others around the world, are hurting because of the coronavirus crisis, and this fund is a way to deploy resources to immediately address some of their most basic needs.”

Carolina Panthers Owner David Tepper also announced he was contributing $1 million to the fund through his foundation.

“David Tepper has emerged as one of our most influential leaders and a champion in the philanthropic field,” said Foundation For The Carolinas President and CEO Michael Marsicano. “This generous gift is an expression of his heartfelt commitment to the well-being of our citizens. Now is the time for us all to come together to help one another.”

Lowe’s made a $25 million commitment to support the emerging needs of our associates, customers and communities. This includes $10 million in product that will be donated to medical professionals on the frontlines. Essential items like respirators and protective gear are currently being delivered to hospitals nationwide. The commitment also includes $1.5 million to support the COVID-19 Response Fund.

Local agencies and nonprofits are already feeling the strain to deal with increased needs as the local economy tightens, workers are asked to stay home, school cancellations cause disruption and those without insurance are facing additional challenges getting the care they need.

The COVID-19 Response Fund will be administered through a partnership between Foundation For The Carolinas and United Way of Central Carolinas, in close coordination with the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.

Grants will be awarded by an advisory group of community members and will be open to any agency that meets the eligibility criteria. The advisory committee may elect to make grants directly to organizations based upon the urgency of the need or through a grantmaking process.

To contribute to the COVID-19 Response Fund, visit HelpCharMeck.org. Corporations and foundations that wish to make a donation may contact Catherine Warfield, Senior Vice President of Philanthropic Advancement at FFTC, at 704.973.4515 or cwarfield@fftc.org; or Clint Hill, Chief Development Officer at United Way of Central Carolinas, at 704.371.6359 or chill@uwcentralcarolinas.org.

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