A Dispatch from MeHAF: Funding News and Connecting from a Distance

During the course of the past three months, the COVID-19 pandemic has led us to make substantial and sometimes difficult changes to our 2020 funding plans. Many of these have been made specifically to allow our COVID-19 response to be rapid and meaningful. We’re summarizing the changes here so you know the full scope of what we’ve done.

  • The Discretionary and Meeting Support Grants programs have been suspended. We commit to revisiting this decision, with the hope of reopening the Discretionary Grants program this summer for non-COVID-19 related projects.Meeting Support Grants will remain suspended until 2021.
  • Earlier in the year we released a funding opportunity for our new Systems Improvement and Innovation Grants program (SIIRG). We completed the review of Letters of Inquiry, but chose not to continue with the full RFP process as it seemed imperative to refocus the funding on COVID-19 related support. We plan to re-launch the program in early 2021.
  • Similarly, we had planned to launch a second round of our Community Responsive Grantmaking (CRG) program this year, but have decided to postpone until 2021.
  • In consideration of the guidelines presented by both state and federal agencies, we have also made the decision to cancel all in-person meetings for the remainder of 2020. This was a difficult decision to make, as time spent face-to-face with colleagues is important and valuable for us.

 By making these difficult decisions, we were able to be nimble in our response to COVID-19. Through both directed grants (green markers) and rapid response grants (blue markers), we have supported over 80 organizations with over $1 million in grants in the past eight weeks, to help support important efforts to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. And we are exploring how we may be able to do more grantmaking over the course of this year to support the organizations that improve health and access to care for people who experience the greatest barriers – and therefore the greatest burden from COVID-19.

In hearing from organizations across the state, we know that successfully facing COVID-19 is not about solving a single challenge, but meeting thousands of small and large hurdles that look different from organization to organization. As we continue to develop what our funding opportunities will look like for the remainder of 2020 and into 2021, we will try to do so with these myriad challenges in mind.

As MeHAF staff enters the tenth week of what has become our new normal, we continue to work remotely and have been able to keep much of our day-to-day business going as it has been in the past, but from a distance. Through phone calls, Zoom meetings, and email we continue to try to be as accessible as we can to grantees, partners, and peers, to learn not only about the incredible challenges that people are facing moment to moment, but also to hear about innovative ways that organizations across Maine are meeting the growing challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.  And importantly, to hear about some of the long-term work that will carry us into the future beyond the pandemic in ways that help everyone in Maine to be healthy.

We will continue to stay in touch through this e-newsletter and through our formal and informal connections with all of you.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out to staff if you have ideas to share or questions.

As we stated a number of weeks ago, please stay healthy and safe as you do your important work.  We are keeping all of you in our thoughts.