State-run coronavirus aid non-profit began spending money last week

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The Arizona Coronavirus Relief Fund has raised more than $8.2 million since launching in late March, but it didn’t distribute any of that money until last week, some seven weeks after launching. 

In all, the fund, which is managed by the Arizona Commerce Authority, has distributed $1.8 million. Gov. Doug Ducey announced the non-profit fund March 24, along with the website.

The first disbursement of funds was $500,000 on May 13 to the Arizona Association of Food banks. The largest payout, $700,000, happened Wednesday when the fund was used to support organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club that provide out-of-school child care. 

The fund has also been used to get additional supplies for foster care organizations, help kids with special needs and help organizations that provide food and grocery deliveries for senior citizens

In April, the amount of money available in the fund wasn’t public knowledge until the Mirror reported that state officials wouldn’t say who was in charge of the funds and how they’d be overseen. 

The funds are entirely separate from the $50 million that state lawmakers set aside as part of the “skinny budget” passed in March.

“The committee will review requests from nonprofits seeking support,” Susan Marie, executive vice president for the ACA, previously told the Mirror, adding that the committee will be “working very closely with and receiving input from philanthropic community leaders in Arizona.” 

Marie said that the committee will also work with the private sector to secure “in-kind” or “lowest possible price point” for certain needs. An example she gave was for a school to access e-learning tools. 

When the fund launched, the Arizona Cardinals football team announced it had made a $1 million donation. The team’s chairman and president, Michael Bidwill, also sits on the Board of Directors for the Arizona Commerce Authority. His sister Nicole, an executive and owner of the Cardinals, is on the committee overseeing the Arizona Coronavirus Relief Fund

The committee members are:

  • Nicole Bidwill, an owner and executive for the Arizona Cardinals
  • Eileen Klein, the former president of the Arizona Board of Regents
  • Dan Mahoney, a partner at the law firm Snell & Wilmner
  • Tina Marie Tentori, the executive director of the APS Foundation
  • Sandra Watson, the president and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority