Philanthropy A to Z
R – Resilience: Cape Cod Resilience Fund
Text by Allyson Plessner
Jutting out into the tempestuous waters of the Atlantic, the unique peninsular shape of the Cape means that it is often referred to as an arm. Admit it, you’ve popped a bicep once or twice and proudly pointed to your elbow to indicate a favorite Chatham beach or to your clenched fist to show your friends where to find Provincetown. But, if the Cape is the left arm of Massachusetts, then early spring saw it in need of more than a few trips to the gym as the pandemic sapped away the strength of many local businesses and residences. As a constant champion of the diverse mom and pops that dot the Cape and Islands, Love Live Local, a nonprofit run by Amanda Converse and Jen Villa dedicated to sustaining local small businesses, was quick to step up to the weight rack and provide a helping hand to our struggling region.
“When the stay-at-home order was issued back in March, we at Love Live Local knew it was going to be bad for our neighborhood businesses,” says Converse. “Most small businesses can’t close for a week, let alone a month or two or three. We knew we had to do something, and we knew the community wanted to help—beyond just getting takeout and shopping online.” With the help of the Hyannis Main Street BID and many local chambers, the Cape Cod Resilience Fund was launched in late April with the goal of investing in vulnerable small businesses.
The Cape Cod Resilience Fund issues one-time grants anywhere between $500 and $2,000 to what Love Live Local rightfully deems the cornerstones of the Cape community: small, independent businesses. To qualify, organizations need only be Cape-owned and operated. Preference is given to year-round brick and mortar locations with a community-centric spirit. For those with the means to support their friends and neighbors, the Resilience Fund offers the opportunity to make tax-deductible donations to, or partner with, Love Live Local in maintaining the fund. And, fortunately, the Resilience Fund is here to stay even when the pandemic has run its course. “We believe the economic impacts of COVID will be felt for years, so we have committed to continuing to raise money through grassroots donations, fundraising partnerships and grant writing in order to ease the financial strain caused by the economic shutdown and continued economic slowdown,” explains Converse. “The Cape Cod Resilience Fund will continue well into the future to help businesses weather all sorts of storms (including actual storms!), and we’ll evolve the program to meet the needs of the local businesses in our region.”
This is Love Live Local’s inaugural year as a nonprofit organization, though they’ve been communicating the importance of small businesses within the Cape Cod community for years. Their nonprofit status allows Love Live Local to focus their attention more on advocacy work like the Resilience Fund, which raised $49,000 for their first round of grants in June. Those resources were distributed to 47 businesses, and for the second round, Converse says there are over 100 applicants, demonstrating the great financial need that 2020 has wrought on independently owned organizations across the region. As the Resilience Fund continues to demonstrate success in supporting the creative, vibrant entrepreneurial future of Cape Cod, Love Live Local is further investing their time and resources into the wedding vendor community throughout the region, which has taken a particular hit this year, by establishing a “Wedding Vendor Fund.” This subset of the Resilience Fund is aimed at providing a round of grants specifically to the local wedding industry, which has reported a loss of income of more than 75% in the wake of the ongoing pandemic.
Love Live Local’s recent impact report shows that local restaurants and retailers reinvest over 50% of their income right back into their community. That is two to four times more than national corporations. With small businesses making up over 90% of the Cape Cod community, those investments are crucial to the local economy. “But, beyond the economic impact, our local businesses are staffed and owned by our neighbors and friends,” enthuses Converse. “That matters; they matter.”
As the acting left arm of the state, Cape Cod has an integral role to play in the health and resourcefulness of this particular part of New England. It’s a role that becomes particularly evident in the bustling months of summer, but the hard-working employees and business owners that keep this place alive don’t stop their work when the air turns brisk and the crowds flock south. It takes a village to, well, maintain a village, but those who love the Cape want more than that; they want to see the region flourish. The Cape Cod Resilience Fund allows people to invest directly into their community, and into the people and businesses that make it so profoundly special.
To learn more and support the Cape Cod Resilience Fund, head to lovelivelocal.com/resilience, and to stay up to date with the recently-launched Wedding Vendor Fund, visit lovelivelocal.com/weddingvendorfund.
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