Mayor Schaaf, Generous Donors Establish the Oakland COVID-19 Relief Fund to Serve Most Vulnerable Residents and First Responders

Date Posted: March 20th, 2020 @ 10:38 PM
Last Updated: March 25th, 2020 @ 10:50 PM
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Mayor Libby Schaaf announced the launch of the Oakland COVID-19 Relief Fund, an emergency fund to serve Oakland’s most vulnerable residents and first responders during the pandemic.

Funds will assist seniors and families in need of food security, small businesses, community-based organizations who serve uninsured residents, organizations that provide shelter and services for the homeless, and funds to provide tests for our first-responders.

Oakland residents and philanthropic organizations can donate to the Oakland COVID-19 Relief Fund to help protect the health of all Oaklanders by visiting

“Oaklanders show up for one another like no other community,” Mayor Libby Schaaf said. “The sudden and immediate impact of COVID-19 has disrupted every aspect of our daily lives. In these unprecedented times, I’m proud we can rely on our generous philanthropic community to start this fund, and I’m grateful to all those who will contribute to it in the coming days and weeks to support Oakland.”

The Oakland COVID-19 Relief Fund has raised $2.5 million to date.

The Bay-Area based Hellman Foundation contributed an initial $1 million gift to help meet the basic needs of critically at-risk senior residents in Oakland, many of whom are sheltering in place. In addition to other critical needs, the gift will ensure that 40,000 seniors are served meals through trusted food distribution networks.

“As a doctor and mother, I feel a particular urgency to provide solutions,” said Dr. Tricia Hellman Gibbs, MD. She added, “As a member of a multigenerational Bay Area family here since the Gold Rush, I care and worry about our beloved California. I encourage those of us who are in a position to support our neighbors to do so. My family has always felt it our responsibility to help take care of our communities, and today more than ever, we hope this effort on the part of the Hellman Foundation and others will help reach the most vulnerable among us right now, particularly those who are unhoused, working hourly wage jobs, or heroically helping the sick in our health care systems. Pandemics don't stop at county lines or the Bay Bridge. Now is the time for us to come together and recognize that a collective, regional, and long-term commitment is the best way to address this crisis.”

Through partnerships with Meals on Wheels and others, close to half the funds donated by the Hellman Foundation will go directly to meal delivery for Oakland homebound seniors for over one month. Another portion of the funds will serve as an emergency fund for qualifying small businesses to cover costs such as rent and worker payroll, with priority given to low-income business owners that may have difficulty accessing other forms of capital. The remaining funds will be distributed among other key programs and services currently targeting some of the most vulnerable Oakland residents, including those who are uninsured, unhoused, have limited English proficiency, or no access to paid sick leave.

Blue Shield has also donated $500,000, with a majority that will go toward opening temporary sites and purchasing test kits to speed the testing of Oakland’s first responders.

“It’s clear that COVID-19 requires a massive response if we want to get ahead of it. We continue to ramp up our efforts to help stem the spread of this virus, and our support for Mayor Libby Schaaf’s call to action is a great way for us to make an immediate impact on our hometown of Oakland,” said Paul Markovich, president and CEO of Blue Shield of California.

Additionally, the Stupski Foundation made a $500,000 donation to purchase health and hygiene stations at homeless encampments to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Funds will also go toward anti-displacement initiative Keep Oakland Housed, which provides critical legal and financial assistance to renters facing eviction and unstably housed residents at high risk of homelessness, including people living in motels or on couches, who are running out of funds.

“We are grateful to Mayor Libby Schaff and the city of Oakland for their swift actions to keep our community healthy and safe,” said Glen Galaich, CEO of the Stupski Foundation. “We are proud to support their critical efforts to protect the members of our community who are the most vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19, particularly people at risk of or currently experiencing homelessness. We will continue to look for ways to combine efforts with local government officials and our fellow funders to meet our communities’ needs at this rapidly evolving time, and we encourage those who can to do the same.”

Crankstart has also contributed $500,000 to be spent to broaden these efforts to support local businesses, community-serving institutions and service providers in need of short-term capital funding.

The Oakland A’s have donated $100,000 to the Alameda County Community Food Bank to help fight heightened food availability issues in the East Bay as a result of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. The team has set up a fundraising page at for fans and community members to contribute. The Club also pledged $1 million to an employee relief fund for gameday staff who work at the Coliseum. These frontline employees are the heartbeat of the A’s organization.

“This is an unprecedented time in our community. As we navigate this pandemic, it is crucial that we come together and help those who need us most,” said Oakland A’s President Dave Kaval. “We are proud to team up with other organizations to provide emergency relief in Oakland, and we ask that others join us in helping to create a healthier tomorrow.”

The Mayor appointed Pam David, former Executive Director of the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, and former Director of the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Community Development, to help establish the Fund. Ms. David, with assistance from other experienced philanthropic, government, and community experts, will ensure that donors to the Fund can be confident that the resources they provide will be used well and wisely.

“We will put all the necessary safeguards in place to make sure that the dollars raised will be quickly spent to address the critical needs the Mayor has identified,” David said. “In addition, we are establishing procedures that allow for a high level of transparency and accountability. I am honored to be a part of this effort.”

About the Hellman Foundation:

Since its founding in 2011, the Hellman Foundation has focused on supporting local organizations and initiatives homegrown in the Bay Area, striving to be strategic in helping to ensure the most pressing local needs while bolstering the impact of partner organizations through strategic philanthropy and public-private collaboration. To date, the Hellman Foundation has awarded over $69 million in grants to hundreds of local Bay Area organizations supporting education, youth development, health, and basic needs.

About Stupski

The Stupski Foundation is collaborating with community partners to invest all of our assets within the next 9 years to address some of the Bay Area’s and Hawaiʻi’s biggest challenges so that one day everyone can benefit from the wealth of opportunities and resources in the places we call home. The Foundation focuses funding on early brain development, food security, postsecondary success, and serious illness care. Learn more about Stupski’s work by visiting

About Crankstart

Crankstart is a private foundation based in San Francisco that serves the community in the areas of education, housing, human rights, the environment, the arts and basic science

About the Oakland A’s

The Athletics have always been innovators. Since their founding in 1901, the A’s franchise has pushed the boundaries in a relentless pursuit of victory. Their nine World Series titles and 15 American League Pennants make the A’s one of the most storied Clubs in Major League Baseball. The A’s take great pride in the achievements of their past and view them as a challenge to push further. As the Club moves into a new chapter in Oakland, they remain committed to creating winning experiences on the field and in the community. As Oakland’s team, the A’s are committed to providing economic opportunity for all in order to help make Oakland and the East Bay a more equitable and inclusive community.

Media Contact

Justin Berton
Communications Director

For Hellman Foundation:
Arielle Goren