Jewish Community Pandemic Relief Fund taking two-phase approach

Last week, the Jewish Community Pandemic Relief Fund approved an allocation of $25,000 to the Community Food Bank to rescue over 30,000 meals from the international border that otherwise were destined for the landfill. The fund also allocated an additional $20,000 to Interfaith Community Services for emergency financial assistance to individuals and families most in need, and $3,637 for a COVID-19 indigent burial. These disbursements add to previous allocations of $20,000 each to Jewish Family & Children’s Services and ICS, and $2,075 to the Tucson Interfaith HIV/AIDS Network.

The fund, established in March by professionals and volunteer leaders of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona and the Jewish Community Foundation, has raised $385,000 to date.

A May 7 email update from the office of Graham Hoffman, JCF president and CEO and JFSA president and CEO-elect, explains the deliberate, two-phase approach to distributing the funds. Phase 1, which continues throughout the life of the fund, focuses on individuals and families most impacted by the pandemic, while phase 2 focuses on agencies and organizations whose infrastructure supports those in phase 1, whether in the Jewish or broader community, as well as needs in Israel and among Jewish communities around the world.

The aim of the fund is “to respond rapidly not only to today’s problems, but also to the growing challenges that will face us as circumstances evolve,” the email stated.

“We have taken care to strike a balance on the continuum between immediately allocating funds to show community support and adopting a more gradual, measured approach as we watch to ensure we can meet the community’s evolving needs that shift and develop with time. The Jewish Community Pandemic Relief Fund operates in the dynamic tension between these poles, though we have intentionally embraced a more measured approach, knowing that the greatest needs locally may yet be ahead of us. Moreover, we work to ensure that during our phase 1 focus on individual and family needs locally, we are designating grants toward COVID-19 related needs while working to facilitate the receipt of stimulus funds and government loans to address the broader economic impact on the non-profit sector in Southern Arizona.

“Funding recommendations made by our Pandemic Relief Taskforce are brought to the joint executive committee/officers of Foundation and Federation, where funding distributions are decided. We are deploying resources in a thoughtful, measured way as this complex situation unfolds, ensuring that the funds are not exhausted in the broader communal context.”

Community partner

The Jewish Community Pandemic Relief Fund is working in concert with the Pandemic Relief funds established at the Community  Foundation for Southern Arizona and the United Way, as well as other nonprofits in our local community.

By working with these local partners, the email stated, “our position is balanced by the complementary approaches of major funders in our region” to ensure that the community’s needs are met now and in the future. “We are complementing and supplementing each other’s funding strategies, and taking care not to duplicate efforts.”

Anticipated areas of need

Areas where increased need is anticipated include, in alphabetical order, basic human services, domestic violence, first responders/medical community, food scarcity, healthcare, homelessness, mental health: suicide prevention, Native American populations, and seniors and vulnerable populations.

These areas of need have been determined through research and conversations with experts in our region.

To access services, contribute to the fund, or volunteer your time, visit  For more information, call 577-9393.