Within about 48 hours, Sacramento city officials and a broad-base coalition of community partners raised $340,000 to launch a fundraising effort to help those hurt economically by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chet Hewitt, CEO of Sierra Health Foundation, right, explains the outpouring of support for the Donate4Sacramento relief funding program that was launched this week. Mayor Darrell Steinberg, left, looks on. (OBSERVER photo by Antonio R. Harvey)

Under the campaign titled “Donate4Sacramento,” the partners are on a mission to raise private contributions that would ensure families, individuals and businesses receive essential services during the pandemic crisis. 

Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Councilmember Jay Schenirer on Monday, March 23, joined  — either in person at City Hall or participation by video — a coalition of public, private, business, non-profit, labor and philanthropic collaborators.

Chet P. Hewitt, President and CEO of Sierra Health Foundation and The Center, one of the coalition partners, called the public campaign a “Rapid Response Fund” to signal that help is on the way.

“This fund was established to deepen and expedite support for workers, families, community organizations and small businesses impacted by the health and financial circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hewitt said. “We are proud to commit our time, expertise, energy and dollars to this partnership fund and invite all to join us in building hope for the future together.”

Donate4Sacramento received its first major commitments of $150,000 from Health Net, $150,000 from Sierra Health Foundation, $30,000 from Comcast and $10,000 from the Teichert Foundation.

The Donate4Sacramento campaign has attracted local, regional and statewide support, including from the offices of state Sen. Richard Pan, U.S. Congresswoman Doris Matsui, U.S. Congressman Ami Bera and the County of Sacramento.

“When there has been a need, Sacramento has always stepped up,” said Councilman Schenirer, who spearheaded the effort for the City. “I know this time will be no different. We will get through this crisis and emerge stronger.”

Donations can be made through the Donate4Sacramento.org website. Contributors can specify their contribution to be used in one of five ways:

  • Support for Families. This funding adds to the United Way California Capital Region’s COVID-19 Local Relief Fund to provide child care, meals, rental assistance and other essential resources for families whose lives have been disrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Support for Small Businesses. This support leverages and supplements the City of Sacramento’s Small Business Emergency Economic Relief Loan Program for zero-interest loans to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on small businesses and their employees.
  • Services for Our Unhoused Neighbors. Providing services through area nonprofits to unhoused Sacramentans, such as emergency shelters, hygiene stations and other solutions to meet their needs.
  • Nonprofit Support. This funding will be distributed through the Sacramento Region Community Foundation’s Sacramento Region Disaster Fund, which will rapidly deploy flexible resources to nonprofits working with communities impacted by COVID-19.
  • General Support. Flexible funding to provide support beyond the areas identified above and wherever it is most needed.

Funds will be administered by The Center at Sierra Health Foundation, Sacramento Region Community Foundation, United Way California Capital Region and the City of Sacramento.

“Every donation helps, no matter how large or small,” Mayor Steinberg said. “With this fund, we can demonstrate our commitment to leave nobody in Sacramento behind. We’re strongest when we stand together.”

Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer