Our Response to COVID-19

On behalf of everyone at the William J. and Dorothy K. O’Neill Foundation, including our Trustees and remote staff, thank you for the important work you do each and every day.

Caring for Our Communities

In response to the urgent needs in our 8 funding communities, the Trustees approved an immediate COVID-19 response to direct $1 million to the following rapid response funds:

Anne Arundel County & Baltimore City, Maryland 

Big Island, HI 

Cleveland, OH

Houston, TX

New York, NY

Orlando, FL


Washington, DC 

Due to our large grantmaking footprint, we’re admittedly unable to support all funding requests at this time. However, we will continue to stay closely connected to the emerging efforts taken by our community partners, so that our philanthropic activity can efficiently and quickly direct resources to the most vulnerable.

What We Heard from Our Partners

We were amazed by the resilience, creativity, and compassion of our partners. 

  • Approximately 30% of our partners cancelled or postponed their annual fundraisers/galas, which (for many) meant the loss of the only flexible, unrestricted dollars anticipated for the year.
  • Most of our partners have moved their programming and services online (as much as possible). Health care, behavioral health, case management, family coaching, home visiting, legal service, educational programs for kids and adults, and even hearing aid fittings for babies are now all offered through Zoom, Facebook Live, Facetime, and any other social distancing method that will meet families where they are in terms of their technology access.  
  • Some of our partners have had to pause services, while scrambling to supply case managers, teachers, and coaches with the appropriate technology to conduct their  activities. 
  • We heard from the health clinics, homeless shelters and other similar housing programs, outreach teams, and pre-natal support givers who are unable to transition their services to a virtual world and continue to work with vulnerable families every day.    
  • We continue to see that families and communities of color are disproportionately impacted, further accelerating the wealth and disparity gaps that existed pre-pandemic, which places enormous stress on our safety net providers and larger systems.  
  • With each unique story, courageous leadership and a strong commitment to supporting families was ever-present.   

How We Extended Flexibility  

While we recognize that these are challenging times for everyone, we made a few changes to our grantmaking processes:

  • Relaxed Restrictions: Our 2019 grantee partners were notified that they could flex their grant dollars to best meet their needs. 
  • Adjusted Timelines: Two months ahead of schedule, we expedited our first Responsive Grantmaking cycle in 2020 and approved $1.1M in general operating grants to 34 nonprofit organizations. 

Resources & Perspectives

We were heartened that many organizations shared resources and perspectives. Here are a few that we bookmarked:

Whole-family Resources

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ascend’s 2Gen COVID-19 Response Webinar Series shined a light on how to make more permanent changes to improve outcomes for families.

View webinar recordings >

Our Commitment to Serving Families Remains Unchanged

The key message we want to convey is that we’ll continue to uphold our long-standing commitment to strengthen families and improve communities in which O’Neill family members live.

We hope you and your families stay safe and healthy.