Desai Sethi Foundation’s COVID-19 grants support community-based solutions

A homeless outreach organization. An initiative that employs restaurants to feed marginalized communities. 3D printed face shields for hospital workers.

These community-focused initiatives addressing problems as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are recipients of the Community Resilience Prize, a grant program by The Desai Sethi Foundation. The family foundation aims to serve underrepresented residents through education, entrepreneurship, and wellness. Winners receive up to $5,000 in funding. Three winners have received the grant so far: Motor City Mitten Mission, Pay It Forward, and the 3D Printed PPE team. After the application period ends, the current round of applicants then get to vote for their favorite proposal (teams cannot vote for their own).

“Our focus is really getting this money into the hands of either groups of individuals or grassroots organizations,” says Cara Binder-Kopchick, director of The Desai Sethi Foundation. “The intention was really our belief that community members know best what is right for their community. There are so many different programs for different parts of communities to be able to come together. But we did see this as a gap and something that we wanted to help support.”

Based on the response to the grants, Binder-Kopchick notes there is a lot of “creativity and collaboration” happening in Detroit in response to the pandemic. “That's just so important to know right now, especially [considering] the news and the reality of the city is that it's an extraordinarily hard time. But there are some real bright spots.”

To apply, teams must be based in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park and projects must serve these communities. The grants expanded to New York and Miami, cities where members of the foundation’s founders live. The winners are selected by their fellow applicants, Binder-Kopchick says, adding the foundation does not weigh in on the final decision.

The application can be found on the foundation’s website.

The current round of applications closes Tuesday, April 21. The next round will open Friday, April 24, which is when the winner of the current cycle will also be announced.

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Read more articles by Dorothy Hernandez.

Dorothy Hernandez is a freelance writer and editor who frequently writes about food at the intersection of culture and business. She has contributed to NPR, Midwest Living magazine, Eater, and a variety of other publications. Visit her website and follow her on Twitter @dorothy_lynn_h.