Canberra community foundations grant more than $570,000 to 63 projects in support of local community organisations dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic

Published on 22 April 2020

Three of Canberra’s charitable foundations joined together to provide a rapid response grant round of $500,000 to assist local organisations helping vulnerable people during the COVID-19 crisis.

At a time when our community is most in need, the Chief Minister’s Charitable Fund in partnership with Hands Across Canberra, The Snow Foundation, and John James Foundation announced today more than $570,000 in grant funds has been awarded to 63 projects, which is well beyond the initial planned commitment, yet more support is still needed. These foundations are working together as part of a joint initiative to support local organisations adapting their service delivery to vulnerable people in Canberra and the surrounding region during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ms Diane Kargas Bray AM, Chair of Hands Across Canberra and the Chief Minister’s Charitable Fund ACT, said “We received over 100 applications for assistance, we know the community sector is facing many challenges due to COVID-19 and local organisations are grappling with a surge of demand, particularly in areas of mental health and emergency relief, at the same time as all fundraising activities have ceased, which is why we wanted to make this process easy, reducing administrative demand on the organisations seeking financial assistance.”

“Our COVID-19 Rapid Response Grants will support vital community services for Canberrans whose existing vulnerabilities have been exacerbated by the unfolding pandemic. The ability to rapidly provide flexible resources to community organisations who are working on the frontlines during this health crisis is crucial,” Ms Kargas Bray said.
Georgina Byron, CEO of The Snow Foundation, said that this grant round has been a great example of the power of collaboration. By working together with other foundations, it has been possible to provide support in the most efficient and most effective way.

“The three foundations streamlined their funding process to ensure that money available flows to nonprofit organisations swiftly and efficiently,” Georgina Byron said. “We recognise that each day brings new hardships, and this grant round intends to lift up the incredible efforts of organisations that are changing their operations to respond to unprecedented levels of needs.”

“Organisations such as Beryl Women, Raw Potential and PCYC are on the frontline, providing critical assistance to those who have been upended by the pandemic in areas of domestic violence, mental health, and unemployment. I am pleased that we can respond quickly to the needs of the community and get resources where they are needed most,” Ms Byron said.
Cheryl O’Donnell, CEO of PCYC, said these grants are very timely and allow organisations to continue their service delivery immediately. This is particularly important as government stimulus packages will take time to take effect and not everyone will benefit.

Ms O’Donnell said “We have started to move our programs online. However, many young people don’t have a laptop at home or can’t afford internet so we need to make sure everyone can

remain connected. It is paramount that we keep the services running as much as possible, as many people in our community depend on them and disruptions would be detrimental in the long-term.”

Joe Roff, CEO of John James Foundation, said the situation is being closely monitored. “The stories of our local organisations rising to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in Canberra and the nearby region under such stressful conditions and with little resources are inspiring,” Mr. Roff said. “We hope this funding provides much needed relief.”

The COVID-19 Rapid Response Grant Round, was created to get resources quickly to community organisations serving Canberra and the nearby region, particularly vulnerable individuals who are most disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. The foundations regularly consult with the community sector. Local community organisations are facing increased demand, reduced revenues and a very different work landscape, these initial grants focus on organisations providing frontline services to the most vulnerable in our community.

The grants announced today support a range of beneficiaries including people experiencing mental health issues, domestic violence, elderly people, at-risk children and youth, people with disabilities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the homeless, and those who are otherwise economically disadvantaged. Projects include support for transitioning services online, acquiring technology and mobile outreach services. Other organisations are increasing relief services, housing support, virtual youth engagement, training, and care packages. All awarded projects will take place in the next 3-6 months.
The full list of grants awarded is attached. There is still a gap in funding. Not every organisation that applied received funding and some organisations still need further support so if there are other individuals, foundations or corporates who may wish to be a part of this and extend their support, please let us know.

Vulnerable individuals and families in need of food and essential items can contact the Canberra Relief Network on 1800 43 11 33 or their nearest community organisation.

About the Consortium

Hands Across Canberra is an independent philanthropic community foundation, working with more than 250 local community organisations. Funds for this grant round are being provided by the Chief Minister’s Charitable Fund which is delivered in partnership with Hands Across Canberra. Since March 25, all donations to Hands Across Canberra will go to support organisations through the COVID-19 pandemic. To donate visit

The Snow Foundation is a family foundation that focuses on supporting the Canberra community and the surrounding region and beyond. The Snow Foundation is currently accepting grant applications. For more information visit applications close April 27.

John James Foundation is an independent broad-based healthcare charity providing a range of programs and assistance to the people of Canberra and beyond. Keep up to date on their activities and grant rounds on

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