The Rapidian

COVID-19 in Grand Rapids: Thursday, April 23 updates

Grand Rapids Community Foundation and local Latinx leadership organizations launch La Lucha Fund for undocumented and mixed status families impacted by COVID-19 pandemic, and more statements issued April 22-23, 2020.
Grand Rapids Area Mutual Aid Network (GRAMAN) team distributing food to local families in need.

Grand Rapids Area Mutual Aid Network (GRAMAN) team distributing food to local families in need. /Grand Rapids Community Foundation

Kent County now has 815 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 27 related deaths. Statewide, there are a confirmed 35,291 cases and 2,977 related deaths. These numbers, reported by the State of Michigan, are as of today, April 23.

Shared in this Thursday, April 23, update are continued COVID-19 responses impacting greater Grand Rapids from the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, the Greater Grand Rapids Chamber Foundation, and Kent County’s Emergency Management Division.


Grand Rapids Community Foundation and local Latinx leadership organizations launch La Lucha Fund for undocumented and mixed status families impacted by COVID-19 pandemic

The Grand Rapids Community Foundation (GRCF) announced today, April 23, the launch of a new COVID-19 emergency relief fund – La Lucha Fund – which will support undocumented and mixed status families in Kent County who are not eligible for unemployment, CARES Act relief, or other government support.

La Lucha Fund is a collaboration between the GRCF, Movimiento Cosecha, the Grand Rapids Area Mutual Aid Network (GRAMAN), and LatinxGR. LatinxGR is a partnership of five Latinx leadership organizations in Grand Rapids, which includes the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan (HCWM), the Latino Community Coalition (LLC), the Latina Network of West Michigan (LNWM), the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (WMHCC), and the West Michigan Latino Network (WMLN).

With the loss of jobs brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and ineligibility for formal government relief, many of Kent County’s undocumented and mixed status families are finding it particularly difficult to buy food, medicine, and other household necessities, or pay rent, utilities, and other monthly bills.

La Lucha Fund will support local families ineligible for government assistance during this time by providing a maximum of $500 in assistance per family, on a one-time basis. Families must apply online for La Lucha Fund assistance and meet its qualifications.

Rafael Castañon, one of the founders and Chair of the WMLN, notes that the fund is available for more than just Kent County’s Latinx residents.

"La Lucha Fund represents solidarity with our immigrant community,” said Castañon. “While the fund is Latinx led, anyone ineligible for government assistance living in Kent County can apply. Currently the application is available in English and Spanish at"

The GRCF serves as the fiscal sponsor for the fund, accepting and processing donations on its behalf. The GRCF also made an initial investment of $100,000 to the fund. The vetting of La Lucha Fund applications and fund disbursals are conducted by members of Movimiento Cosecha, the GRAMAN, and the HCWM, with additional support as needed from the other LatinxGR organizations.

"La Lucha Fund is a result of advocacy and collaboration of local Latinx leaders,” said Erika VanDyke, the GRCF’s Program Officer. “Grand Rapids Community Foundation is proud to be a partner and conduit for this effort. Donations to La Lucha Fund can be made at"

More information about La Lucha Fund is available on its English-language FAQ page and Spanish-language FAQ page on the GRCF’s website.


Greater Grand Rapids Chamber Foundation and its local partners launch Rapid Response Economic Relief Fund for small businesses impacted by pandemic

Also launching a COVID-19 emergency relief fund for the Kent County area are the Greater Grand Rapids Chamber Foundation (GGRCF) and its local partners, the GGRCF announced yesterday, April 22. Their fund – the Rapid Response Economic Relief Fund – will support small businesses in Kent County impacted by the pandemic.

The Rapid Response Economic Relief Fund has raised more than $1 million thus far and seeks to raise $3 million in total. Local business groups and philanthropists already supporting the fund include Amway, CDV5 Foundation, Deloitte, Priority Health, and Spartan Nash.

Through the fund, $5,000-$10,000 grants are being provided to small businesses in Kent County with five to 25 full-time employees. Grant recipients are also receiving backroom financial support and the services of a business consultant to assist with cashflow projections.

Ultimately, the fund seeks to act as a financial bridge to small, for-profit businesses awaiting assistance from government-sponsored programs and to organizations that cannot access local, state, or federal relief funds,” the GGRCF said in a statement.

Grand Rapids Chamber President and CEO Rick Baker shared more on the fund’s purpose.

“We are committed to having both an organization and initiative where the most vulnerable and underserved businesses understand that they belong in this community,” Baker said. “It is paramount to support those that have contributed to the vibrancy of our city and work together to cultivate a thriving and prosperous West Michigan for all.”

The GGRCF has connected with the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber, Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses, Start Garden, The Right Place, SpringGR, Ferris Emprende, Local First, and area neighborhood business associations to identify potential applicants and ensure all Kent County communities have an ability to seek and secure funds.

More information about the Rapid Response Economic Relief Fund and its application process is available on the Rapid Response Fund page on the GGRCF’s website.


Kent County’s Emergency Management Division seeks volunteer workers for its presumed COVID-19 negative shelter for women experiencing homelessness

Kent County’s Emergency Management Division (EMD) has a need for volunteer center workers at its presumed COVID-19 negative shelter for women experiencing homelessness, it announced today, April 23.

“These women were recently tested for COVID-19, found to be negative, but needed to relocate to take pressure off the shelter resources in the Heartside District downtown,” the EMD said. “This is part of the Kent County Health Department's strategy of social distancing, specifically in this vulnerable population.”

The center is located at the Catholic Central High School gymnasium at 319 Sheldon Blvd. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503.

Every volunteer working will be provided appropriate personal protective equipment. The EMD notes, however, that volunteer workers at this location will not be in direct contact with known positive COVID-19 patients.

“Kent EM personnel and volunteers who have already worked at this shelter would tell you that it has been very rewarding, helping a vulnerable and appreciative group of women!” the EMD added.

The center’s three positions are Site Ambassador, Assistant Site Manager, and Cleaner / Maintenance. The Site Ambassador position is currently scheduled to be filled at all times, and the Assistant Site Manager and Cleaner / Maintenance positions are currently scheduled in the evenings.

To volunteer for the EMD’s center worker positions, visit


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