After months of gathering funds for the victims of the massacre of 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde in May, 48 households impacted by the shooting will receive funds.
The Kerrville-based Community Foundation of the Texas Hill Country and the San Antonio Area Foundation led an effort to hire the National Compassion Fund to distribute more than $23 million in donations gathered by seven organizations on behalf of the families.
The Community Foundation's CEO Austin Dickson said the hiring of the National Compassion Fund provides the mechanism for the money to be distributed equitably at the direction of a Uvalde-based steering committee. Dickson said it had not been an easy process; one met with national scrutiny in the wake of the shootings.
"When donations started coming in on the day of the crisis, we knew within a matter of hours we were getting a lot more donations than we normally handle," Dickson said. "We had no mechanism to give the money away. We were in a predicament."
Dickson said the Community Foundation is not allowed to give away grants to individuals, and others faced a similar problem of having no way to distribute the money fairly — or transparently.
The Community Foundation and the San Antonio Area Foundation partnered to bring in the National Compassion Fund, covering its fees, so no funds went to administrative costs. In turn, the National Compassion Fund formed a steering committee made up of Uvalde residents — but without school district employees or elected officials to help determine the payout to 448 families.
"Our community experienced significant loss and trauma on May 24, but— together with people from around the country and around the globe — we came together with incredible acts of generosity and compassion," Steering Committee Chair Mickey Gerdes said.
Dickson said it was essential to create a transparent process for how the money would be distributed, much of it trauma-informed in the approach. While money poured in from around the country, Dickson said the groups needed to understand how to pay it out. It was up to the Community Foundation and the San Antonio Area Foundation to convince the other groups, including the Robb School Memorial Fund, to pool the money together.
"We have simply been stewards of these funds committed to honoring the intent of more than 13,000 gracious donors to help those directly impacted by this tragedy," Gerdes said. "Although these donations could never make the survivors whole, we are hopeful these donations provide the recipients with some comfort knowing that there are many people who wanted to give something to help them in whatever way possible."