Honoring, Supporting Our Partners on the Front Lines of the COVID-19 Response

A message from all of us at RRF

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

We hope you are well and managing as best as possible during this difficult time. We want to provide a brief update on the ways RRF Foundation for Aging (RRF) is responding to the extraordinary challenges facing older people as well as our grantees and partners who serve them.

During the last three weeks, we have been in substantive conversations with scores of RRF grantees and philanthropic partners, both here in Illinois and across the country. In all of these interactions, we have been struck by our colleagues’ remarkable ingenuity and steadfast determination in the face of increased need and decreased resources. We have also proactively explored various collaborative grantmaking opportunities with both local and national affinity groups of funders.

Based on these discussions, RRF concluded that 1) rapid relief funding is urgently needed for front-line nonprofits that address the essential needs of older people, and 2) enhanced flexibility is called for as grantees wisely pivot and adjust to quickly evolving circumstances. We also recognize that it is important not to lose sight of the long view by remembering RRF’s strategic direction and its commitment to advance the Foundation’s mission in the aftermath of the pandemic. 

New Funds Allocated

Based on this review, RRF’s Board of Trustees recently approved the release of new funding in response to the immediate challenges facing Illinois organizations directly serving older people. A total of $500,000 will be distributed through two major, collaborative Relief Funds recently established to serve as vehicles for rapid response philanthropy associated with COVID-19:  

  • $350,000 will go to the Chicago Community COVID-19 Relief Fund, operated by The Chicago Community Trust and United Way of Metropolitan Chicago; and 
  • $150,000 will be granted to the statewide Illinois COVID-19 Relief Fund, operated by the Alliance of Illinois Community Foundations.

RRF will work with the leadership of both funds to ensure the needs of older people are met and has provided lists of RRF grantees and other trusted aging services providers who should be considered for funding. These Relief Funds have the infrastructure to respond efficiently to the immediate crisis, and our investment will leverage a much larger pool of funds and generate greater reach and impact.

RRF encourages direct service grantees in Illinois that are not able to tap into the two funds or that have exceptional needs to contact us. We may be able to explore the possibility of additional funds in the future or connect you with alternate resources available to the nonprofit sector.

Flexibility for Existing Grantees

Recognizing the extraordinary circumstances of the present moment, RRF is also relaxing our reporting requirements and enabling current grantees significant flexibility in the use of their grant funds. Specifically, organizations with active grants may:

  • Redirect specific grant funds to general operating support to meet identified COVID-19 demands or operating expenses associated with maintaining essential aging services; 
  • Suspend or delay reporting requirements to focus on more time-sensitive efforts; 
  • Receive no-cost extensions to accommodate project delays or altered timelines; and 
  • Make other adaptations, as needed. 

These flexible practices apply to grantees from across the country and for all RRF’s grantmaking pathways (advocacy, direct service, professional education/training, research, and organizational capacity building). Specific arrangements for current grants will be made on a case-by-case basis, so please contact us if a modification would be helpful at this time.

In Gratitude

We are grateful to all of our partners who have shared their experiences and ideas with us. Your insights continue to inform how we can most strategically respond to the needs and opportunities facing older people and our communities.

As RRF responds to COVID-19 and its myriad challenges, we recognize the tremendous burden this pandemic is placing on our grantees and all aging services organizations in our city, state, and nation. The health and social dangers facing older adults are substantial, and we are all trying to make sense of a rapidly changing environment. As we have done throughout our 40-year history, RRF remains steadfastly committed to supporting organizations working to improve the lives of older people everywhere.

We look forward to continuing to work together during this critically important time.


Irene Frye          Mary O’Donnell
President           Vice President

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