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Jeff Bezos-backed fund awards $5M to nonprofit

November 21, 2018
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Community Rebuilders Grand Rapids van
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A local nonprofit has won a $5-million grant from a fund backed by the founder of Amazon.

Grand Rapids-based Community Rebuilders said yesterday it received $5 million in the first distribution round of the $2-billion Day 1 Families Fund, founded by Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Bezos.

Jeffrey King, director of advancement and communication for Community Rebuilders, said the organization will use the funds toward its goal of effectively ending family homelessness in Kent County by the end of the grant’s four-year timeline.

Though he admits it is a “bold” initiative, he believes it is possible.

In 2017, Community Rebuilders served 323 families experiencing homelessness, 97 percent of them finding permanent housing.

Using a housing-first model, King said the nonprofit first provides families with financial assistance to pay for three to six months of housing in the private market and then helps them identify how to maintain housing. 

In 2017, Community Rebuilders led a community-wide effort that effectively ended veteran homelessness in Kent County, as recognized by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. The nonprofit has housed nearly 600 veterans since 2016.

“This $5-million grant from the Day 1 Families Fund is an absolute game-changer for our life-saving and life-changing organization,” said Vera Beech, executive director, Community Rebuilders.

“Community Rebuilders is a hard-working organization, and we’re not afraid to take risks to support families experiencing homelessness. This grant will allow us to do so on an even bigger scale to more quickly reach our community’s goal of eliminating homelessness in Kent County.”

Community Rebuilders is one of 24 nonprofits in the nation to receive the first Day 1 Families Fund grants, totaling $97.5 million.

“We hope these grants provide the additional resources these leaders and their organizations need to expand the scope and impact of their efforts,” Jeff Bezos said.

King said the fund’s selection committee identified organizations throughout the country that align with its mission and invited them to apply for grants.

Jeff Bezos announced the Day 1 Families Fund on Sept. 13 via Twitter.

He said the fund has two focuses: to support existing nonprofits that help homeless families and to create a network of new nonprofit, tier-one preschools in low-income communities.

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