The Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines today announced it has activated a new Disaster Recovery Fund that will be used to support communities that are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 emergency. 

The DRF was created in partnership with disaster response and philanthropic organizations in Greater Des Moines to develop a collective strategy for charitable giving during times of disaster. The Community Foundation’s board has committed an immediate $100,000 to the fund, which has been matched by $100,000 from United Way of Central Iowa. 

“As our community and its most vulnerable populations are facing the effects of COVID-19, the DRF provides an opportunity for the public to give with the reassurance their donations will be used to quickly move resources to where they are most needed and to adapt to evolving needs,” said Kristi Knous, the Community Foundation’s president. “The flexibility of the fund will ensure that the community will be able to respond to needs that are not being met by existing nonprofit, local, state and federal programs.” 

Having United Way involved will provide valuable insight from the organization’s 211 assistance program to help determine what some of the most critical needs are within the community, she said. 

The collaborative community effort has already received initial support from the Businessolver Foundation, Cultivating Compassion: The Dr. Richard Deming Foundation Fund, Mid-Iowa Health Foundation and the Polk County Board of Supervisors. 

Within hours of the announcement, the fund had already reached approximately $325,000, which included a $50,000 donation made immediately following the livestreamed announcement, Knous said. 

The DRF was created in recent months as a critical component of the community’s collaborative Disaster Recovery Plan that emerged following severe flooding in 2018. The DRF Coordination Team consists of the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, United Way of Central Iowa, Polk County Emergency Management Agency, American Red Cross-Central Iowa Chapter, IMPACT, Polk County, and Community Family and Youth Services-Polk County. 

The group engaged in conversation with nonprofit organizations, emergency management agencies and other services providers through a series of meetings in late 2019 to lay the groundwork for creating a flexible fund to address unforeseen challenges during times of disaster.

Money received will first focus on disproportionately affected communities by addressing economic needs and the health impact on vulnerable populations caused by COVID-19-related closures and other impacts of the outbreak. The long-term application of the fund will focus on additional needs that are not being met by existing nonprofit, local, state and federal programs that will inevitably arise, according to the Community Foundation. 

“We may not know what tomorrow will bring, but thanks to support of the DRF we have the confidence that we stand ready to meet the challenge,” Knous said. “Our community has proven time and time again that we are better together and this collaborative spirit will once again prevail as we support our neighbors in need.”

For more information and to donate online, visit the Disaster Recovery Fund webpage. For general questions, inquiries about the DRF, or information about partnering, please contact Angie Dethlefs-Trettin, chief community impact officer, at or 515-244-0340.