COVID-19 Response Fund grantees announced, questions raised

COVID-19 Response Fund grantees announced, questions raised
April 09
04:30 2020

The $1,062,000 grant was awarded to 15 local nonprofits 

Earlier this week the first grant recipients of the COVID-19 Response Fund, a partnership with the United Way of Forsyth County, were announced. The $1,062,000 grant was awarded to 15 local nonprofits, but not everyone was happy about the announcement.  

Less than 24 hours after the grantees were made public, several people who have experience working in the community started to question if the fund will provide necessary assistance for the people who need it the most.

The COVID-19 Response Fund was created through a partnership with United Way of Forsyth County, Winston-Salem Foundation, the City of Winston-Salem, and Forsyth County. The goal of the fund is to provide flexible resources for immediate, emerging, and long-term needs to local nonprofit organizations working with individuals and families in Forsyth County who are disproportionately impacted by coronavirus and the economic consequences of the outbreak. Since the COVID-19 Response Fund was officially launched on March 18, more than $3.3 million have been committed to the fund. 

Those at odds with the COVID-19 Response Fund say organizers failed to work with leaders in the community who could have helped with the process. Several people in the community also questioned if some of the grantees deserved the funding.

Longtime Winston-Salem native and community activist Nakida McDaniel said, while their intentions were good, they failed to listen to the community and find out what their real needs are. 

“I believe that we should have took a more critical look at the services needed and who can really help people,” McDaniel continued. “Our anchor institutions do not have the best reputations, even during normal times, and have poor relationships with community members after years of them talking down on them and turning them away for help.”

Many people are questioning if Union Baptist Church deserved the $50,000 they received from the fund. The funding is to be used to provide increased requests for food, clothing, and other essential resource needs for low-income single parents, seniors, and the homeless. 

Although she didn’t want to be interviewed to discuss her comments, in a very candid letter and Facebook post discussing her thoughts on the fund, Arnita Miles said Bishop Sir Walter Mack, senior pastor at Union Baptist, only does charity “in-house,” meaning non-members rarely benefit from their charitable giving. 

McDaniel said she believed the $50,000 could have been used elsewhere, too. “Union has a reputation of only taking care of tithe paying members,” McDaniel said.

“l’ve seen them turn people away in the past because they weren’t members. I would hope they would not operate this way with money coming from other sources.” 

Attempts to contact Bishop Sir Walter Mack and/or Union Baptist were unsuccessful at the time of publication.

Other organizations that received funding include: Bethesda Center for the Homeless, Cancer Services, Inc., Crisis Control Ministry Inc., Eliza’s Helping Hands, Inc., H.O.P.E. of Winston-Salem, Inc., Imprints Cares, Legal Aid of North Carolina, Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods, Samaritan Ministries, Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina, Inc., The Salvation Army, Whole Man Ministries of NC, Winston-Salem Rescue Mission, YWCA of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. 

In the press release issued to The Chronicle earlier this week, Cindy Gordineer, president and CEO of United Way of Forsyth County, said the purpose of the grants is to support non-profits in the community addressing the basic needs. She said, “Priority in this grantmaking has been given to nonprofits addressing the basic needs of community members – for rent assistance, food needs, help paying for regular medication, as well as to support those who provide medical services and support. We are fortunate to have such a strong community of nonprofits able to move quickly to provide these critical services to those most impacted.”

Applications for the COVID-19 Response Fund are reviewed on a rolling basis and grant decisions are made by representatives from the City of Winston-Salem, Hanesbrands, Kate B. Reynolds Chartable Trust, the Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity, Reynolds American, Truist, United Way of Forsyth County, Wells Fargo, and The Winston-Salem Foundation. 

For more information or to apply for the grant, visit

Editor’s Note:

See article on B5 titled “COVID-19 Response Fund for Forsyth County announces grant recipients” for full press release from the COVID-19 Response Fund with a complete list of recipients and amounts awarded.

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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