COVID-19 Response Initiative

The COVID-19 pandemic reached Boston in March 2020 and led to widespread challenges among Boston residents with food insecurity, financial and job instability, social-emotional distresses, and more. As governments issued stay-at-home orders, social and economic activities ground to a halt, and local businesses were severely impacted – particularly small, independent businesses that are part of the fabric of their communities. 

A woman passing out donationsTo strengthen further its commitment to its partner communities, Tufts Medical Center in April 2020 began an ongoing dialogue with community members and institutions in Chinatown, Dorchester, South Boston, and the local Asian community about the needs arising from the pandemic.

Several priorities emerged through these conversations, cutting across all communities:
  • Financial stability and economic opportunities for individuals and families
  • Access to sufficient, safe, and healthy food
  • Access to providers who can support community members’ social and emotional wellness
  • Resources to enable community-based nonprofits to meet greater demand for services and in new ways (e.g. virtual programming)
  • Resources to support local businesses, which are significant employers and cultural institutions
  • Access to knowledge, guidance, and resources for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19

In response to the needs mentioned above, the Office of Community Health Improvement Programs (CHIP) initiated two rounds of competitive grant initiatives for organizations in the neighborhoods of Chinatown, Dorchester, South End, and South Boston in 2020 and 2021. In May 2020, we launched the COVID-19 Community Needs Request for Proposal (RFP), which resulted in almost $300,000 distributed among 23 community organizations addressing short- and medium-term COVID-19 related needs. In June 2021, we initiated the Community Relief and Recovery RFP focused on continuous and sustainable economic recovery, which is supporting 22 organizations with $700,000.

A child learning to cook healthy mealsThe COVID-19 Community Needs RFP supported our community partners from June 1st, 2020 to September 30th, 2020.

The Community Relief and Recovery grant initiative runs from July 1st, 2021 to September 30th, 2022. Our partners are using their funding to:

  • Assist community members with Unemployment applications and other benefits
  • Provide access to culturally-appropriate food and other essential groceries to families in need
  • Purchase equipment that allows them to offer their programs virtually
  • Provide community members with laptops, tablets, and internet access to enable them to take part in virtual learning, counseling, and many other services that have shifted to remote-only opportunities
  • Offer increased access to counselors and other mental health providers during this time of acute stress and uncertainty
  • Purchase PPE to protect staff and clients who participate in programs that cannot be made virtual
  • Deliver business coaching through workshops, resource sharing, small-loan program, and technical assistance to support, stabilize, and grow local small businesses 
  • Provide ESOL training that integrates life skills, job readiness, and digital literacy education
  • Deliver housing and financial literacy training, including financial coaching, and first-time homebuyer education workshops
  • Establish escrow savings accounts and matched saving programs
  • Provide workforce development and job readiness training with employment pipelines in fields such as medical interpretation, construction, culinary, commercial cleaning, real estate, etc.
  • Deliver case management and clinical support to clients in recovery to address barriers to career readiness program participation and completion
  • Offer youth employment programs with professional and skills development workshops and opportunities
     

"We are thrilled to have received funding for COVID-19 relief. I have said this before, but I will say it again, you and your team at Tufts are always so responsive to the needs of the community. You do a great job of keeping your finger on the pulse of the neighborhoods and we feel very fortunate to have this opportunity to work with you. Thank you." – Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester

“Asian American Civic Association (AACA) is pleased to partner with Tufts Medical Center and Wellforce to pilot a new workforce development program to train participants to navigate and utilize Epic databases. Immigrants and economically disadvantaged individuals from across Boston neighborhoods and beyond will get specialized training, wraparound support services, and direct placement into significantly higher paying jobs. This partnership will enable these individuals to attain better, more sustainable futures.” -- Asian American Civic Association