The Golisano Foundation said it is distributing $426,300 in a first round of COVID-19 response grants to Western New York organizations.
Just over $400,000 will go to organizations serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities with urgent needs resulting from the pandemic. An additional $23,000 in grant funding will go to animal welfare organizations.
Ann Costello, executive director of the Golisano Foundation, said funding is aimed at relieving the financial strain of adapting services so that agencies can continue safely serving people with disabilities.
“People with disabilities are some of our most vulnerable citizens," Costello said. "They live in congregate settings, many of them in group homes, and they may have fragile health."
The grants will help cover operating expenses for programs and the cost of supplies like personal protective equipment and disinfectant. Funds will also be used for technology needs for telemedicine and education and to help facilities improve social distancing capabilities.
Costello said that agencies have managed well but have taken on additional costs in order to continue their work.
“Like all organizations, they’ve had increased expenses to do that, and that’s what our grants and our support are designed to help with,” she said.
The organizations receiving funds are AutismUp, Special Olympics New York, The Arc of Steuben, Best Buddies WNY, Best Buddies South West Florida, Heritage Christian Services and Mary Cariola Children's Center.
Through the end of October, the foundation will be allocating around $2 million in grants to help organizations in Western New York and southwest Florida respond to the demands of the public health crisis. The next round of grants will be decided by May 27.