Our response to COVID-19
Supporting our community
The Bush Foundation continues to adjust and respond to the realities and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in our region. We are seeking ways to be most supportive and useful to our community in this time of need.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we took immediate steps to address the unfolding crisis. We pulled from our endowment and reserves to provide an additional $8 million toward relief, and are looking at more. We reprioritized spending across the organization, including canceling the 2020 and 2021 Bush Prize and bushCONNECT, to fund community needs. We also adapted our programs to be more responsive, equitable and safe.
EXPEDITED COMMUNITY INNOVATION GRANTS
One of our first actions was to adapt our Community Innovation grant program to be responsive to needs and opportunities related to COVID-19. Applications related to COVID-19 are given expedited consideration. This includes immediate response efforts and longer-term rebuilding efforts.
COVID-19 GRANTS AND FUNDING
We made several large grants to response efforts assisting communities during this time of need:
- $1 million to the Minnesota Disaster Recovery Fund.
- $500,000 to the South Dakota Community Foundation’s Coronavirus Response Fund.
- $500,000 to the Dakota Medical Foundation’s Critical Safety Net Fund serving North Dakota and northwest Minnesota.
- $500,000 to the NDN Collective Covid-19 Project to provide immediate relief to Indigenous communities in our region.
The creative community has been hit especially hard by event cancelations. With the money repurposed from bushCONNECT we provided $250,000 to support artists and culture bearers through relief funds across our region:
- Arts South Dakota Artists Emergency Relief Fund
- Springboard for the Arts Emergency Relief Fund
- First Peoples Fund Resilience Fund
- North Dakota Council on the Arts CARES Fund
We also joined with other funders in several collaborative response efforts:
- The Saint Paul Bridge Fund provides resources directly to individuals and businesses in our hometown.
- The Headwaters Foundation Community First Fund supports relief of social, political and economic consequences of COVID-19 felt by organizations led by and for BIPOC.
- ConnectedMN brings tech devices and internet access to students across the state, especially communities most in need, ensuring more equitable access to educational resources.
- Minnesota’s COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program for tenants and homeowners to receive assistance toward home-related bills.
COVID-19 Resources in our Region
Since we know that our resources can't support every need, we compiled a list of resources to connect our communities to other funding available for individuals, artists, nonprofits and businesses in our region. We retired this page in March 2021.
BUSH FOUNDATION PROGRAM CHANGES IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19
Beyond funding, we have also made programmatic changes to redirect our resources and focus toward COVID-19 and also to modify events for safety.
We canceled the 2020 and 2021 Bush Prize program to redirect funds toward relief, and are considering its future. The Bush Prize is an important program to us and to the organizations that receive it, and it is an extraordinary step for us to cancel it.
This year’s annual education learning event was held virtually. The theme of Student Centered Learning for Equity: From a Moment to a Movement, was brought to life through an impactful kick-off and powerful breakout sessions, all online.
We canceled bushCONNECT and our Event Sponsorship program. We feel proud of the work we have done with and through partners on these programs. We will focus our energy and resources to serve the most critical needs in our region.
Our grantees are balancing a lot right now, and we want to support them to focus where they need to by offering flexibility around their grants. We are working with grantees to adapt grant terms as needed.
ADJUSTMENTS TO OUR OPERATIONS
We have transitioned to remote work until further notice. Individual staff members can still be reached by email or phone as usual.
This is a region of caring and resilient people and we know people will find creative and kind ways to respond to this unprecedented time. We want to be as helpful as we can. And we want to support efforts to make the region stronger and more equitable than before the pandemic. Please contact us with any questions or suggestions for how we can be most supportive and useful.