Three major philanthropic initiatives supporting the Camp Fire relief effort have joined forces to create the Butte Strong Fund — a master group that will work to provide a roadmap for recovery.
The Butte Strong Fund is a partnership of the North Valley Community Foundation, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and the Aaron Rodgers NorCal Fire Recovery Fund. Representatives from each organization will work together throughout the long-term process to identify and fund local recovery organizations.
The Camp Fire on Nov. 8, 2018, is the most destructive wildfire in state history. It killed at least 86 people, displaced tens of thousands and destroyed nearly 19,000 homes, businesses and other buildings.
The response from the community and around the country was rapid, with thousands of people donating roughly $25 million for Camp Fire relief.
“We’ve established the Butte Strong Fund to address the long and difficult road ahead in pursuit of true healing and recovery for our communities,” said Alexa Benson-Valavanis, president and CEO of the North Valley Community Foundation. “It is clear that we are united in our suffering and also our strength.
“We are bound by our compassion and our resilience. Not only are we in this together but it will take sticking together to get through this. NVCF is here now and for the long journey ahead.”
The North Valley Community Foundation’s Camp Fire Relief Fund used more than $1.3 million early for direct relief and recovery needs — for gift cards, child care services, mental health needs, emergency shelter and much more.
After opening its doors to first responders and community members in the immediate aftermath, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. began a long-term fundraising campaign. The Chico-based brewery also enlisted more than 1,400 breweries nationwide to brew Resilience Butte County Proud IPA, with all proceeds from sales going to the Sierra Nevada Camp Fire Relief fund. The bulk of these funds — projected be to more than $10 million — will be used to implement Butte Strong Fund initiatives.
“By joining forces with these great partners, we can significantly increase the positive impact on our community,” said Sierra Grossman, Vice President and head of Corporate and Social Responsibility at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. “The support of our global brewing industry has allowed us to support our Butte County community. It’s been heartwarming to see the light of the human spirit shine through even the darkest of hours.”
Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers quarterback and two-time NFL Most Valuable Player who hails from Butte County, donated $1 million initially and encouraged partners to add to the recovery efforts.
The Butte Strong Fund was set up with the specific intent to work alongside communities for years.
Organizations can apply for grants focused on six areas: 1) housing, 2) children and youth services, 3) health and wellness, 4) education, 5) community development, and 6) business recovery.
Benson-Valavanis said housing is a vital issue, requiring both short-term and long-term solutions.
“There’s not enough relief money to rebuild the impacted communities, but we hope to help with projects that will kick-start the process and make a meaningful difference in the lives of our community members,” she said.
The Butte Strong Fund does not have a direct assistance program. Individuals are not eligible for direct funding. Funding is provided only to eligible organizations that are directly serving people displaced by the Camp Fire.
For more information on the Butte Strong Fund, and to learn more about the upcoming grant application process, see ButteStrongFund.org. The consideration of grant requests and the final decisions on funding will be made by a committee of local stakeholders and leaders.
Tax-deductible donations can be sent to Butte Strong Fund, 240 Main St., Suite 260, Chico, CA 95928 or by visiting www.nvcf.org and clicking Donate.