Funders Collaborative join Operation Helping Hands initiative to launch Miami Pandemic Response Fund

Health Foundation of South Florida, The Miami Foundation, Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, The Frederick A. DeLuca Foundation join United Way to provide $500,000 in seed funding

Anchor organizations have joined United Way of Miami-Dade and the Miami Herald/el Nuevo Herald through Operation Helping Hands to launch the Miami Pandemic Response Fund. Health Foundation of South Florida, The Miami Foundation, Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, The Frederick A. DeLuca Foundation and United Way have come together to provide seed funding of $500,000 to aid families and small businesses through a network of nonprofit partners responding to the unprecedented economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this time of need, the collaborative is urging the community to join this initiative and support each other by donating through Operation Helping Hands.

“For 95 years, United Way has been serving our community, taking great pride in bringing resources together to respond to emerging needs,” Maria C. Alonso, president and CEO, United Way of Miami-Dade, said. “We are grateful to our partners, for their leadership and commitment to helping us establish the Miami Pandemic Response Fund to provide emergency assistance to those who need it most.”

“Big moments call for big action, and that’s why we joined this coalition of Miami’s leading funders and nonprofit organizations. It’s critical we come together in a bold way to leverage, pool and deploy our resources especially in the midst of a crisis that impacts not only our health as a community but our very resilience as a region,” Dr. Steven E. Marcus, president and CEO, Health Foundation of South Florida, said. “The last few weeks have been a reminder of how deeply connected we are to one another as colleagues and fellow South Floridians. We hope our unity as funders inspires others to take action and join us, because the only way we can truly build a path to recovery is together.”

With 59% of local households already struggling to meet their basic needs, including more than 248,000 families with children, we know one setback can lead to a major financial hardship. A prolonged crisis like this can be catastrophic, not only for these families but for small businesses which serve as the backbone of our local economy. In fact, 81% of businesses in Miami-Dade County have less than 10 employees. Additionally, more than a third of residents are living without health insurance or a standard source of health care, generating high levels of uncertainty.

“Greater Miami has a long history of uniting in times of crisis,” Joseph A. Fernandez, interim president and CEO, The Miami Foundation, said. “This is an unprecedented challenge for our lifetime, and every resident, public agency and organization must do their part to lessen the spread and community impact of COVID-19. We’re fortunate to work with United Way and so many other local philanthropies to quickly get critical help to the residents who need it most.”

The fund will address short term impacts on working families with emergency needs including rent/mortgage assistance, food, medication and utilities as well as issue micro-grants to small businesses.

“We understand the steps needed to control the spread of COVID-19 will make a massive economic impact on Miami-Dade County’s travel and tourism industry, the top economic engine for our community,” William D. Talbert, III, president & CEO, GMCVB, said. “The GMCVB is committed to helping travel industry employees in the frontlines receive some aid during these challenging times and we are proud to partner with United Way Operation Helping Hands to create a tourism industry component to the Miami Pandemic Response Fund.”

Several corporate partners have pledged to support Operation Helping Hands and the Miami Pandemic Response Fund, including Bank of America, BJ’s Charitable Foundation, Florida Blue and Wells Fargo.  More partners are expected to come on line in the coming weeks.

To make a donation you can:

Volunteer opportunities specific to helping families in need during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found at Safety precautions are being taken at the volunteer opportunities such as providing hand washing stations, gloves and keeping a safe distance between volunteers and staff.

To stay informed about the novel coronavirus, personal precautions and links to other resources visit

About Operation Helping Hands

Operation Helping Hands is a partnership between United Way of Miami-Dade and the Miami Herald/el Nuevo Herald that was created in 1998 in the aftermath of devastating hurricanes Mitch and Georges, to provide the people of South Florida a way to extend a helping hand to their neighbors in need. Since then, it has been reactivated numerous times in response to disasters and other emergency situations.

About United Way of Miami-Dade

Since 1924, United Way of Miami-Dade has been an innovative force in the community, successfully responding to emerging needs and transforming people’s lives. Today our work is focused on education, financial stability and health – the building blocks for a good life. We invest in quality programs, advocate for better policies, engage people in the community and generate resources. To learn more, give, advocate or volunteer, visit,, or instagram/UnitedWayMiami.

About Health Foundation of South Florida

The mission of Health Foundation of South Florida is to invest in and be a catalyst for collaborations and policy and systems changes that improve the health of South Florida communities, with a focus on vulnerable, low to moderate-income populations. Established in 1993, the foundation has awarded over $130 million to nonprofits that provide programs and services in Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter @HealthSFL.

About The Miami Foundation

The Miami Foundation partners with donors to champion their causes and improve local quality of life. Since 1967, we’ve done this by taking leadership on civic issues, investing in our community and nurturing philanthropy. Thanks to our more than 1,000 donors, we currently manage over $360 million in assets and have made more than $400 million in grants that create opportunities for residents, make Miami-Dade County more resilient and foster home-grown creativity.

About Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) is an accredited not-for-profit sales and marketing organization whose mission is to attract visitors to Greater Miami and the Beaches for leisure, business and conventions. For a vacation guide, visit our website at or call 1.888.76.MIAMI (US/Canada only) or 305.447.7777. To reach the GMCVB offices, dial 305.539.3000. Meeting planners may call 1.800.933.8448 (US/Canada only) or 305.539.3071 or visit To get further engaged with Miami and the Beaches, join the conversation by following us on our social media channels at,, and

About The Frederick A. DeLuca Foundation

The Frederick A. DeLuca Foundation was created in 1997 by the late Frederick DeLuca, co-founder of the global SUBWAY® restaurant chain, to provide youth and adults the tools to achieve independence and self-sufficiency. Since its inception, the foundation has provided educational scholarship opportunities and grants to community-based organizations in the state of Connecticut. Today, the Foundation’s impact has broadened to support artistic experiences, health awareness, and workforce development programs that enhance the lives of children and families throughout South Florida.

2020-03-24T12:44:12-05:00 March 24th, 2020|