Community

Responding to COVID-19

In the midst of crisis, Excellerate has stepped forward to help thousands who are struggling in Northwest Arkansas.

LAST UPDATED • July 27th, 2020

Census data reveals that 67% of jobs in Northwest Arkansas pay $50,000 or less, with the area median income being $52,000. This represents some 150,000 people that often go unnoticed. They are the underpinning of our region: They work in our hospitals, they process our food and prepare our meals, they help us shop, they care for and educate our children, and they keep us safe. And, all the while, they struggle to care for their own families from day to day.

And now COVID-19 has many of these people facing the same emergency at the same time.

The magnitude of this simultaneous need in Northwest Arkansas is unprecedented. It is testing the region’s support services like they have never been tested before, largely by people who have never needed such services before, don’t know they exist, and don’t know how to find them.

In the midst of this crisis, Excellerate Foundation (formerly Endeavor Foundation) has stepped forward to help fill the gap. We have tracked data constantly during the pandemic and have watched as the greatest need has transitioned from unemployment in the hospitality industry to loss of income due to illness in the food processing sector.

Thus, Excellerate has rallied major stakeholders across the region and the state—including Walton Family Foundation, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, multiple employers, city governments, and the faith community—to raise and deploy more than $2.5M back into our community. We have also been building key collaborations to leverage the existing resources in the community. As a result, thousands of households have benefited from these efforts:

Partnered with United Way of Northwest Arkansas to link its 211 telephone help line with Hark at Excellerate Foundation, creating one of the country’s leading innovative mechanisms to connect people to the resources they need, while providing financial support at the individual level (Catalyst Fund NWA).

Created more than 5,000 Hark “client plans”, which have made more than 15,000 referrals to needed resources and services.

Leveraged Catalyst Fund NWA—a financial assistance program created by Excellerate and Walton Family Foundation--to provide rental, utility and general assistance to nearly 1,500 households affected by COVID-19.

Helped more than 400 small property management businesses weather the worst of the economic decline by providing housing assistance to their tenants.

Worked directly with property managers to prevent evictions and remove late fees.

Linked people to financial education in order to connect them with COVID-related financial assistance programs (e.g. reduced interest on credit cards or student loans, mortgage forbearance).

Provided data and analysis to area nonprofits to help them receive more than $400,000 in federal funds for rental and utility assistance.

Assisted city government in the distribution of federal aid.

Coordinated resource donations from local businesses to reach the rural areas where they are most needed, including more than 42,000 pounds of pet food from Simmons Foods.

Advocated on behalf of the populations hit hardest by the coronavirus.

Supported local quarantine efforts.

These examples and many others illustrate the power of Excellerate’s ability to connect organizations to each other to address the many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, while also connecting individuals to the vital resources they need to carry on. Excellerate has been—and will continue to be—at the forefront of the efforts to keep Northwest Arkansas safe and secure during these uncertain times.