The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced Tuesday it’s planning to donate $3.7 million to support various response efforts to the novel coronavirus pandemic in the greater Seattle area.
The funding is part of a local commitment of up to $5 million the foundation announced in early March, according to a statement from the foundation. Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company founded by Melinda Gates, is also committing an additional $500,000 to support Seattle-area communities disproportionately impacted by the disease, the statement said.
“The pandemic feels like a universal experience, but we have to recognize that not all of us will experience it equally,” Melinda Gates said in the statement. “By supporting local community response efforts, we can help make sure that, in this moment of crisis, we’re not leaving the most vulnerable behind.”
The Gates Foundation will provide $1 million to Public Health – Seattle & King County to help the agency release timely and accurate information, the statement said. The funding might also help the public health department to set up temporary housing or support services for non-severe patients and those experiencing homelessness.
The organization is also planning to support six regional COVID-19 response funds — in an attempt to meet the needs of those disproportionately impacted by the pandemic — including the Seattle Foundation’s COVID-19 response fund, the Community Foundation of Snohomish County, the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation serving Pierce County, the Innovia Foundation serving Spokane County, the Yakima Valley Community Foundation and Seattle-based Philanthropy Northwest.
The funds are directed toward helping those “economically or physically at risk,” such as service industry and gig workers, health care workers, people with limited English proficiency and communities of color, the statement said.
It’s also contributing to three of the city’s homeless service providers: Mary’s Place, Plymouth Housing and the Downtown Emergency Service Center.
Additionally, the Seattle Flu Study is receiving technical support from the Gates Foundation, as it shifts some of its capacity from a research study focused on seasonal influenza to a surveillance platform for COVID-19, the statement said.
“Seattle is not just our headquarters, it’s our home,” Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman said in the statement. “And as a local organization with relevant expertise and resources, we have a unique responsibility to help.”