On Monday, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announed the Boston Resiliency Fund, which will help the city focus efforts to fundraise and provide services for Boston families, seniors and first responders who have been most impacted by the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
"In the face of big challenges, our city shows its true colors. We've been seeing incredible acts of kindness and generosity and the Boston Resiliency Fund is a perfect example of that," Walsh said in a press release. "Through this fund, we are coordinating Boston's philanthropic efforts to support families that are facing the greatest need right now. I want to thank everyone who has already contributed, and look forward to seeing how we will all come together during this critical time of need to support one another."
For now, the Fund is focused on providing basic needs like food for children and older adults, technology for Boston Public Schools students to participate in remote learning and support for first responders and health care workers through the city's non-profit partners.
On the fund's first day, donors gave nearly $10 million.
Although it was only announced Monday, the idea behind the fund had been floated around as the seriousness of the novel coronavirus outbreak started to come into picture.
"The idea behind the Boston Resiliency Fund and supporting Bostonians has been, I think, percolating since this crisis really began," said Casey Brock-Wilson, director of strategic partnerships in the mayor's office. "As we started to realize how serious this was, we knew there were Bostonians and non-profits supporting Bostonians who would need support in the future. And that really escalated over the weekend. And the mayor made a call then to say, 'How do we get this started?'"
Brock-Wilson told WGBH News that Vertex Pharmaceuticals initiated the fund with a $1million donation.
Since then, various corporations, institutions, family foundations and individuals have given to the fund. A list of its' initial supporters can be found on the city's website. Brock-Wilson said there's been over 800 online donations so far.
The fund's next benchmark is to hit $20 million in donations, but a date hasn't been set to reach that goal.
"We're obviously working towards that as quickly as we can knowing that the need is real and immediate for a lot of our folks here in Boston," Brock-Wilson said.
Brock-Wilson said the unknowns around the coronavirus outbreak and how long it will last has made it difficult to plan how to distribute the funds.
"But we know that there are immediate needs right now," she said. "And so some portion of the fund will need to get out rather shortly to non-profits in Boston who are supporting our most vulnerable families, children, seniors. ... We want to make sure that we're supporting Boston throughout this crisis, however long it lasts.
"And so that does make planning for distribution of the Fund a little bit difficult, but we are thinking very critically about it and mindful that the needs may change over the course of this crisis as well."
Brock-Wilson said she imagines the longest city would be maintaining the fund for about a year.
"But I would guess that we will be hoping that the crisis is shorter than that and that we can spend the money in six months and feel good that we have done what we could to help mitigate this crisis and that we're getting towards the tail end of it," she said. "It's just hard to know at this point when that date is gonna be."