San Francisco 49ers announce donation for coronavirus recovery
San Francisco 49ers President Al Guido announced Thursday the team's $49,000 seed contribution to a fund for local nonprofits affected by the coronavirus crisis. Photo by Katie Lauer.

Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers, sat empty Thursday amid the county’s “shelter in place” order to slow the spread of coronavirus, as the NFL team announced plans to help residents get back on their feet.

49ers President Al Guido announced the team donated $49,000 to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s newly-created emergency fund for nonprofits in the region.

“These nonprofits provide vital services, including delivering meals to the elderly and those unable to secure food for themselves,” Guido said. “As a community, what we do now will help determine the outcome of this crisis.”

The 49ers’ donation is being matched by a slew of other funds, including $500,000 from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation itself and $50,000 from Comcast, which is providing faster data speeds and two months of free WiFi access to low-income customers – a vital service as many resources and services are now only accessible online.

Additionally, Santa Clara County supervisors Cindy Chavez and Dave Cortese detailed their plans to set aside $1 million for the fund as well.

Guido said the 49ers’ cheeky $49,000 contribution is just the first step in the team’s support for the community.

“We felt like this was a seed for (the fund) and a way to have a smile and laugh, because we still want to be joyful in all of this,” Guido told San José Spotlight. “Our foundation will continue to give money throughout this process, and, frankly, we’re really looking for our leadership on the political side to help direct us as to where that is best to give. This is really just the beginning.”

The funding will support nonprofits in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, as they continue to provide critical services despite decreased revenues – due to canceled events and fewer donations – and increased costs of combating the virus.

One nonprofit that will benefit is the Gardner Family Health Network, which provides medical, dental, vision, counseling and substance abuse services to around 50,000 residents locally.

“We’re trying to support our employees, whether or not they have leave, but at the same time, the reduction in volume (of services) and additional costs of cleaning will create a greater impact financially,” Gardner CEO Reymundo Espinoza told San José Spotlight. “These funds will help us fill in some gaps and help us continue into the future, because, unfortunately, if you can’t make ends meet, the only thing you can do is reduce capacity.”

Silicon Valley Community Foundation President and CEO Nicole Taylor said these partnerships are vital to avoid reduction of essential services.

Silicon Valley Community Foundation CEO Nicole Taylor emphasized the need for funding essential nonprofits, like Gardner Family Health Network, amid the coronavirus pandemic. Photo by Katie Lauer.

“It’s really, truly important for us that nonprofits are the lifeline; They’re the ones that are delivering services to all of us,” Taylor said. “We felt that we had to step up and launch this fund, and we’re excited to be here and do this right in our backyard with leaders of the nonprofit community and leaders in our public government.”

Guido also said the team has dedicated $500,000 for the stadium’s hundreds of employees who are temporarily out of work due to the coronavirus – ranging from daily facility workers and cafeteria staff to its museum STEAM teachers.

“Anybody who frankly makes this business run won’t be impacted,” Guido told San José Spotlight. “All of our employees who are without wages right now, we’re going to make sure that they don’t miss a paycheck, and none of their dollars are impacted by the postponement or rescheduling of a lot of things that have had to happen here.”

Guido said the organization is unsure about the fate of events planned at the stadium, especially as officials wait to hear from other organizations, such as concert and event promoter Live Nation.

But he delivered an important message for ticket holders in the meantime — “hang in there.”

Contact Katie Lauer at katie@sanjosespotlight.com or follow @_katielauer on Twitter.

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