Texas COVID Relief Fund launched to bring financial help to communities in need

Texas school districts, nonprofits and government organizations will be able to apply for funding from the Texas COVID Relief Fund to promote economic development, health care and education needs. This new fund—overseen by OneStar Foundation and the state of Texas—launched May 6. (Designed by José Dennis/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas school districts, nonprofits and government organizations will be able to apply for funding from the Texas COVID Relief Fund to promote economic development, health care and education needs. This new fund—overseen by OneStar Foundation and the state of Texas—launched May 6. (Designed by José Dennis/Community Impact Newspaper)

Texas school districts, nonprofits and government organizations will be able to apply for funding from the Texas COVID Relief Fund to promote economic development, health care and education needs. This new fund—overseen by OneStar Foundation and the state of Texas—launched May 6. (Designed by José Dennis/Community Impact Newspaper)

The governor’s office and an Austin-based nonprofit have launched a new fund to help Texas communities recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The state of Texas has designated OneStar Foundation to raise and distribute funds for the Texas COVID Relief Fund, according to a May 6 press release from Gov. Greg Abbott and the fund’s website.

The funds raised will be distributed to nonprofits, school districts and government organizations across Texas to help promote economic development, health care and education, per the release.

“We will prioritize funding unmet needs not covered by existing sources, vulnerable populations and underserved communities,” the fund’s website states.

OneStar Foundation President and CEO Chris Bugbee said in an email interview that the nonprofit has not set a goal for the total amount to raise.


“Having just announced the fund, it is not yet clear what the potential of the Texas COVID Relief Fund will truly be,” he said. “We know there is great need across the state, and we hope to raise a significant amount to support struggling Texans and communities across the state.”

OneStar will provide additional information in the coming weeks about how organizations can request financial support, he said. The fund's website states a team from the foundation will review applications and manage the fund's distribution. Additionally, the OneStar board of directors will vet and approve each grant award. The impact of the funding will also be regularly reported.

“Texas COVID Relief Fund is about Texans helping Texans,” Bugbee said. “The amount we raise is dependent on the giving of our fellow Texans. ... We understand that not everyone is in a position to give right now, and we are grateful for all donations, large and small.”

Unemployment claims data shows that many Texans are without jobs. In Texas, about 254,000 initial unemployment claims were filed for the week ending March 25, 2020, a 2,003% increase compared to the week ending March 27, 2019, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Texas Workforce Commission has received about 2.3 million unemployment claims since March 14 and has paid out a total of $3.9 billion in benefits, per TWC data available as of May 7.

Individuals, companies or other organizations interested in donating to the Texas COVID-19 Relief Fund can find more information here. Bugbee added that the fund will be donation-based: It is not supported by state or federal dollars.

First created in 1976 as the Texas Center for Volunteer Action, OneStar was established in 2004 to support Texas nonprofits and enhance civic engagement, and it is designated by the state to raise and distribute funds during times of disaster, according to Gov. Abbott’s release and OneStar’s website.

“Most recently, the governor and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation partnered to create the Rebuild Texas Fund, which is housed at OneStar, and raised $100 million to support Texas communities affected by Hurricane Harvey,” Bugbee said of the nonprofit’s previous disaster recovery efforts.

In 2017, OneStar received $56.3 million in contributions and grants, according to the latest Form 990 tax statement available. Of that, about $56,301 was from government grants.

OneStar provided nearly $7 million in disaster relief grants, of which about $1.5 million—the largest grant listed—went to San Antonio-based LiftFund, a small business lending nonprofit, per the 2017 Form 990.