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March 24, 2021


Contact: Chelsea Kiene, 614/251-4000 or 

Gifts of Kindness Fund Distributes $1.3+ Million to Assist Individuals and Families in Columbus Region

Funds cover emergency expenses related to housing, transportation, and utilities

Columbus, OH (March 24, 2021) — As part of its ongoing response to the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, The Columbus Foundation announced today that it is distributing $1,375,000 from its Gifts of Kindness Fund to 18 nonprofit organizations.

Established in 2014, Gifts of Kindness grants are made to Columbus area individuals and families to cover expenses incurred during a destabilizing setback. Typically, the grants range from $500 - $3,000 and are awarded on a case by case basis upon review of individual applications.

In response to the acute financial needs of many individuals and families in the Columbus region, however, the fund has pivoted to award large lump sums, ranging from $10,000 - $200,000, to the 18 organizations.

“The ongoing economic challenges facing our community’s residents are daunting,” said Dan Sharpe, Vice President for Community Research and Grants Management. “We recognize the need for nimble and responsive grantmaking and feel this approach best serves the thousands of individuals and families who will receive this funding. These resources will play a pivotal bridge role, as 2020 CARES Act dollars have largely been spent, but the 2021 American Rescue Plan dollars have not yet been received by community organizations.”

The Foundation adopted this alternate approach in December 2020, when it deployed $500,000 to IMPACT Community Action to support the HOPE Fund, which helps keep Franklin County families in their homes by providing rental and mortgage assistance.

“While we know the pandemic is slowly coming to a close, the economy and jobs for low-wage earners and their families won’t recover until 2024,” said Stephanie Hightower, CEO of Columbus Urban League. “This lifeline is much needed to stop the cycle of homelessness in Columbus and Franklin County.”

These larger investments have been made possible through significant donations to the Gifts of Kindness Fund by Foundation donors, as well as community members. Last fall, an anonymous Foundation donor put forward a $2.5 million matching gift challenge. By January, the match had been met.

“Direct financial assistance to support our community’s residents facing crisis, in addition to program and project funding, is part of the Foundation’s multi-pronged approach for our kindness initiatives,” said Kate Oliphint, Director of Kind Columbus, an initiative that oversees the Gifts of Kindness program. “It’s a clear signal that we see our community members, and that we recognize their struggles and support them during these difficult times.”

The immense need for rapid, responsive funding also has spurred the Foundation to make substantial grants to support basic needs through its Emergency Response Fund since the activation of the fund at the onset of the pandemic. To date, more than $7 million has been awarded through the fund. Foundation donors have also been quick to step up their giving, with a record-setting amount of grant dollars deployed during 2020.

“As we transition into the second year of our pandemic response efforts, we celebrate the steadfast commitment to community of both our donors and our nonprofit partners. Together, we are working to build a stable, healthy, and hopeful recovery for all.”


Organizations receiving grants from the Gifts of Kindness Fund are:

  • Center for Healthy Families
  • Central Community House
  • Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resource Center
  • Columbus Urban League
  • Community Development for All People
  • Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio
  • Gladden Community House
  • Goodwill Columbus
  • Homeless Families Foundation
  • Columbus Housing Partnership dba Homeport
  • Huckleberry House
  • LifeCare Alliance
  • Lutheran Social Services of Central Ohio
  • Maryhaven
  • OhioGuidestone
  • OSU Extension, Franklin County (via University District Organization)
  • Physicians Care Connection
  • Star House


About The Columbus Foundation

The Columbus Foundation serves nearly 3,000 individuals, families, and businesses that have created unique funds and planned gifts to make a difference in the lives of others through the most effective philanthropy possible. The Columbus Foundation is Your Trusted Philanthropic Advisor® and is among the top ten largest community foundations in the United States.