COVID-19 Response


We never know what will happen when we open a relief fund. But we are often pleasantly surprised.

That certainly was the case when we opened the COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund. We started the fund in March 2020, just as the state was closing everything down.

Even before we had a dollar in the fund, NVCF’s board of directors voted to grant $250,000 from our Operating Fund so the Butte County Public Health Department could buy testing equipment it didn’t have.

There was no expectation we would receive substantial donations to the Rapid Response Fund. Unlike, say, a wildfire fund that’s specific to an area, every region in the country was struggling with the same pandemic.

And yet, our donors have a habit of astonishing us.

We went to work awarding grants to organizations helping at-risk populations. We also provided masks, face shields and other protective equipment to nonprofits, businesses and health care professionals.

Early on, we joined forces with the Feather River Health Foundation. They too were issuing grants to help. Pooling our resources, we made our donations go twice as far.

Other community members opened charitable funds of their own at NVCF, the largest of which was the Aaron Rodgers Small-Business COVID-19 Fund. Working together, relief snowballed.

As of July 1, we had mobilized more than $3 million in grants for COVID-19 relief and recovery — far more than we anticipated, but what we should have expected from our incredible donors.

We received hundreds of donations to the fund. The ones from the North Valley were from people who had the means to help their neighbors. The ones from outside the North Valley were often from individuals and foundations that knew our area was still struggling after the Camp Fire.



(through June 30, 2021)

Grant money mobilized by NVCF for COVID-19 response



Nonwoven masks purchased for businesses, nonprofits & government agengies in four counties


Posters printed and distributed to businesses promoting the use of face masks


Cloth masks purchased for nonprofits serving at-risk populations

Employees benefiting from the COVID-19 Employee Care Fund




Grants issued



The COVID-19 pandemic caused an odd interruption in the supply-and-demand chain. Sometimes it was merely an annoyance (for example, toilet paper). Sometimes it was much more important (for example, personal protective equipment).

The NVCF’s Rapid Response Fund tried to help plug holes where it could. That was particularly successful when it came to providing face masks.

By working with local manufacturers, NVCF was able to help hamstrung businesses, uneasy shoppers and at-risk individuals.

The Rapid Response Fund started by buying 30,000 nonwoven white face masks from Chico manufacturer Salus Supply. NVCF distributed them to chambers of commerce in Chico, Paradise, Oroville and Gridley, which in turn conducted drive-up giveaways for business owners, who gave them to customers.

When that was a success, NVCF expanded the giveaways to Tehama, Glenn and Colusa counties. In Red Bluff, 10,000 masks disappeared in 40 minutes, even with limits on how many masks each business could take. A second giveaway distributed 12,000 masks.

Business owners line up for a drive-thru mask giveaway at the Greater Chico Chamber of Commerce office. The masks were purchased by NVCF.

In all, NVCF purchased more than 82,000 nonwoven masks for distribution. We also bought more than 5,500 more durable cloth masks made by Fifth Sun, a clothing manufacturer in Chico that pivoted to masks because of the need.Those were distributed to various nonprofit organizations working with children, senior citizens and homeless individuals.

Eventually the government caught up and was able to provide pallets of masks for north state businesses and organizations, a giveaway effort spearheaded locally by 3Core. But tens of thousands of masks from NVCF’s Rapid Response Fund helped bridge a significant gap.


All funds at NVCF serve a charitable purpose, but a couple of funds opened by community members in response to COVID-19 were doubly charitable.

Two local couples with a history of philanthropy — Tim and Ann Edwards, and Wally and Susan Marshall — were concerned during the shutdown about the survival of local restaurants. They also had a history of helping organizations like the Jesus Center and Salvation Army. They decided to open a fund that would help both restaurants and social service organizations.

They started the Local Restaurants, Local Needs Fund with $10,000. It grew from there. They received donations to their fund from the Foor Foundation, Slater and Son, NVCF and many individuals, then continued to augment the fund with their own donations.

After a year, they had purchased thousands of meals at local restaurants like Sicilian Cafe, Broadway Heights and Pour House and served them to residents of transitional housing through the Jesus Center, Salvation Army, Chico Housing Action Team, Esplanade House and more.

The fund made $68,000 in distributions with the dual benefit to restaurants and at-risk populations.

Slater and Son followed their lead by opening the Slater and Son COVID-19 Community Support Fund.

The idea behind the fund was to purchase items that vulnerable populations need from small, locally owned businesses in an effort to benefit both. It was a tremendous success. The family seeded the fund with a $100,000 donation and eventually made $105,000 in distributions to organizations serving at-risk populations.

Laura Cootsona and Shelly Watson pick up a meal for the Jesus Center from Sicilian Cafe, paid for by the Local Restaurants, Local Needs Fund at NVCF.

Laura Cootsona and Shelly Watson pick up a meal for the Jesus Center from Sicilian Cafe, paid for by the Local Restaurants, Local Needs Fund at NVCF.


The COVID-19 pandemic had different effects on different professions. While some people had hours reduced or eliminated, or were forced to work remotely, there were other classes of employees that had to work harder, with little regard for their own safety.

We dreamed up an effort to help those people.

The COVID-19 Employee Care Grant Program was designed to reward employees of nonprofits and nursing homes who work with at-risk individuals. We targeted essential workers who often work for low pay in high-stress environments. They are usually the last to ask for recognition or practice self-care. They work for companies that are frequently too busy plugging away to think about employee extras.


So we asked them to ponder the question: If you could reward your front-line employees with a gesture, what would it be? We then vetted the requests and approved them.

The result: More than 1,500 workers were rewarded with grants from NVCF totaling nearly $105,000. All 35 organizations that met eligibility requirements received grants to fund ideas such as celebratory lunches, staff appreciation events, massages, gift baskets, stress management counseling and much more.

“What a wonderful idea to create the (employee care) grant program, especially during the stressful time of COVID-19,” wrote Billie Kanter. “As a volunteer and board member of True North Housing Alliance, please accept our gratitude for awarding the grant to a group of employees who we think are the best in Chico. They have endured a lot since last mid-March and to be able to pamper them is a luxury the board itself can’t financially swing. Thank goodness for NVCF and its great staff.”