Six months ago, as Maine began to deal directly with the coronavirus pandemic, MeHAF quickly rallied to respond to the challenges of COVID-19. Since then, we have distributed 146 individual grants equaling nearly $2.1 million to 111 organizations across Maine. Every one of these grants has been a touchpoint to help us better understand the challenges that Maine and its communities are facing during the pandemic and to hear about how, despite great odds, organizations are facing this issue head-on and with success.
As we approach the last few months of 2020, our plan is to focus our COVID-19 response at a broader systems level, and to continue to support work in other areas that, despite the pandemic, has not stalled.
- We will work to engage communities in Maine that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, including Black, Indigenous and People of Color, to begin to change the systems that have resulted in disparities.
- We have re-opened our Discretionary Grants program for the remainder of the year. In considering how best to manage this program in the last few months of 2020, we have decided to focus on non-COVID-19 related efforts. Although COVID-19 is a paramount issue for organizations and providers in Maine, for many, it is not the only focus of day-to-day work. Through the remainder of the year, we hope that Discretionary Grants will support vital work that goes beyond specific pandemic response.
- While we have chosen to re-open our Discretionary Grants program, we will not re-open our Meeting Support program for the remainder of 2020. MeHAF will be holding no in-person meetings for our own staff, Board, Community Advisory Committee (CAC), or Grantees through the end of the year, in an effort to control spread of the virus.
- We continue to support focused work in rural health, health workforce, older adults and long-term services and supports, and behavioral health/substance use disorder services.
- We are currently in the midst of our annual budget development process, where we engage our Board and CAC to decide the best and most strategic approaches to our next year of funding. Our plans align with our sincere hope to return to more “normal” cycles of funding in 2021, while still recognizing that some resources must be set aside for continuing COVID-19 response.
We also commit to understanding the impact of the pandemic and to learning and sharing successful strategies, from here in Maine and across the country, to contain it. This way we hope we can jump-start key opportunities and support new and equitable ways of response.
We look forward to supporting past, current, and future grantees and all of our partners in the vital work they do to improve access to care and the health of every person in Maine today, tomorrow, and in the future. It is more important now than ever.
As we said six months ago in our initial COVID-19 communication, please stay healthy and safe as you do your important work. You are all with us in our thoughts.