The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) matched a $300,000 contribution by the City of Redwood City to provide emergency relief funding for local small businesses.
The total $600,000 contribution to the San Mateo County Strong (SMC Strong) Fund’s Small Business Grant Program will specifically support Redwood City small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The contribution augments CZI’s initial commitment of $5 million to assist Bay Area public health agencies, local organizations and schools in the recovery. Established by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan, the Redwood City-based organization is also collaborating with local universities on efforts to increase regional COVID-19 testing and to research solutions to prevent the virus’ destructive spread.
Its latest contribution shows the organization’s commitment to the Redwood City, which it has called home since 2018, said Councilmember Giselle Hale.
“CZI sees our small businesses as an essential part of what makes us special,” said Hale, who helped facilitate the CZI contribution. “This funding provides a lifeline to a number of those small businesses at their greatest time of need. That’s being a good neighbor. We are proud to have them in Redwood City and thankful for their generosity.”
Cristina Huezo, director of CZI Community, echoed Hale’s sentiment, expressing pride in calling the “vibrant and inclusive” community home.
“We want to do our part to support them in this extremely difficult time and look forward to when they can safely open again,” Huezo said.
Mayor Diane Howard thanked Hale, CZI and the unanimously supportive council for their support of additional relief funding.
“Our small businesses create jobs, foster innovation and provide essential goods and services,” Mayor Howard said. “They also create a sense of place unique to Redwood City.”
The needs by small businesses have proven to be immense. In just the first hours of opening the application period for small business grants on April 27, the countywide SMC Strong Fund received 2,500 responses. The Fund was launched March 24 with an initial $3 million contribution of Measure K funds by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. About $1 million of that initial funding was pledged specifically for small business relief.
The SMC Strong Fund is seeking to raise more funding to support the economic relief effort. Donations are encouraged by visiting the website www.smcstrong.org.
Photo description: Dr. Priscilla Chan, co-founder and co-CEO of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, speaks at CZI’s January launch of the Community Space in downtown Redwood City that offers free meeting and event space for nonprofits located in and serving San Mateo County, as well as for Redwood City and County government agencies.