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The Archdiocese of Chicago and Catholic Charities Announce Historic $20 Million Raised for Joint COVID-19 Relief Effort

Catholic Charities raised an additional $15 Million since March for a total of $35 Million in funding for services amid the pandemic

Chicago – (Nov. 23, 2020) – The Archdiocese of Chicago and Catholic Charities have jointly raised a historic $20 million for COVID-19 relief efforts in response to the vast needs of individuals and communities in Cook and Lake Counties. This fund is one of the largest U.S. Catholic relief responses to COVID-19 and is being deployed to assist thousands of people without regard to their faith, racial, ethnic, or gender identities.

Sixty percent of the $20 million in joint relief funds has been deployed to Catholic Charities to significantly increase assistance to individuals and families in need as the pandemic’s economic impact has dramatically increased the demand for services compared to a year ago. This assistance includes food and housing support, burial aid for victims of COVID-19, and domestic violence counseling and prevention measures. Forty percent has been deployed to other Archdiocesan assistance efforts including emergency scholarships for Catholic school students, support for Kolbe House, the archdiocese’s inmate re-entry ministry and other critical efforts.

“The global pandemic has caused unspeakable loss and overwhelming financial hardship for so many of our neighbors and cataclysmic disruption of our health and health care systems, our economy, parishes, schools and our daily routines,” said Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago. “In these days of Thanksgiving, I am grateful to the many donors giving witness to the Catholic tradition of Corporal Works of Mercy that calls us to come to the aid of our brothers and sisters in need during this historic crisis.”

“We are here for all people in need during this challenging time, no matter what their identity or faith calling. As the charitable expression of the Church and as an anchor institution across the region, Catholic Charities is a community of diverse people who identify with the vulnerability of others and feel called to lift up those in need. In doing that, hearts are transformed, both for those who receive and those who give,” said Sally Blount, Catholic Charities CEO. “I am grateful for Cardinal Cupich’s leadership in marshalling such significant resources for the COVID-19 Relief Fund and to Catholic Charities’ many donors who have stepped forward in extraordinary ways.” 



During the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of calls per day to Catholic Charities’ Homelessness Prevention Call Center has increased by 40 percent, and requests for food assistance have doubled and will likely soon triple. In March, April and early May 2020, Catholic Charities met a 60 percent  increase in requests for food compared to the same time period in 2019. Then in May through September, demand increased 100 percent year-over-year as more than 40,000 families were served at our nine area food pantries and several mobile “pop-up” food pantries hosted at parishes.

Similarly, Charities has seen a significant increase in requests for burial assistance – largely from non-Catholics on the West and South Sides of Chicago facing financial hardship while grieving the loss of a loved one. Catholic Charities has distributed more than $735,000 in grants thus far, helping 210 grieving families lay loved ones to rest. While a new round of burial assistance funding has recently been received, Charities is seeking more donations as the need for burial assistance only continues to grow.


Since the start of the COVID-19 school closures, archdiocesan schools have received hundreds of applications for emergency tuition assistance due to job loss, a significant decrease in income, illness, or other challenges.

By early September, $1,018,000 in COVID-19 relief scholarships averaging $1,400 per student had been awarded to 726 students in 500 families. The majority of the awards are to students attending school in Chicago, but the need is also great outside the city. Awards have been made to students in 85 schools throughout the archdiocese from Oak Lawn, to Waukegan, to Elk Grove Village.


Since March, more than $830,000 has been allocated to domestic violence counseling and prevention measures. COVID-19 has exacerbated domestic violence with many victims confined to sheltering at home with their abusers. There is and will continue to be a need for case management services, including housing and rental assistance to help victims flee unsafe home environments, education and application help for clients about available benefits and job search assistance.


Parishes across the archdiocese have experienced increased demand for their food pantries, soup kitchens and community outreach. Due to COVID-19, most have had to transition quickly from dine-in service to “to go” as guests can no longer enter their buildings. Through September, over $300,000 has been donated to parish-based ministry social services to help those unable to pay for rent, utilities or groceries.  


The early release of prisoners due to the pandemic brought about an urgent need for assistance. Almost all those released from incarceration come from poverty and are returning to poverty. Their only belongings are the clothes on their backs. Kolbe House has been able to step in and provide additional support for inmates transitioning out of a jail setting such as delivery of clothing, CTA and food gift cards, medication refills and financial assistance to help with essentials such as phone service and counseling. Close to $200,000 has been allocated to help Kolbe House provide these services.

For information about the COVID-19 relief fund, please visit