Collaboration, Innovation and Impact During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic response, the CDC Foundation acted quickly to mobilize resources, and coordinate with public health authorities, community organizations and others to provide financial support, resources and leadership to meet critical needs.

People everywhere came together to support our work and make an impact. Hundreds of thousands of individuals contributed. Corporations and philanthropic organizations supported emergency response programs. Celebrities shared important safety messages. Musicians gave concerts to raise money. Athletes challenged each other. People came together with creativity and innovation.

With that backing, our team worked with partners to ensure the rapid and effective deployment of support and to fill gaps to meet the needs of communities. Ranging from the arts organization in the rural mountains developing creative ways to share vaccine messaging to state-based organizations taking on complex roles during the pandemic, we were proud to support groups in the United States and across the globe that developed innovative solutions to reach more people and help them live their healthiest lives during the most dangerous health threat in more than a century.

Learn about our work:

• Mobilizing for impact

• Supporting local organizations

• Collaborating for success

• Empowering innovative outreach

• Providing public health leadership



Mobilizing for Impact


By bringing together individuals, organizations, business and public sector entities, we were able to distribute more than 8 million pieces of personal protective equipment for frontline workers, provide laboratory and medical equipment and testing support, hire more than 4,000 surge staff for health departments, sponsor national communication campaigns, aid long-term care facilities and community-based organizations serving vulnerable populations, support much-needed research and so much more.

an icon representing a group of people

7.5+ million

people directly impacted

a silhouette of North America


states and territories assisted

an icon of an open hand with abstract coins

$590+ million

donor funds committed


Learn more about our work through our impact metrics.


Our collective work with partners and donors and the many communities who came together to make an impact help tell the story of our role during the pandemic response. There are many examples of this work in action. For instance, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we worked with partners to quickly launch the Severe-Acute Respiratory Infections Preparedness research consortium, a network of leading scientists and researchers from varying fields who came together to collaborate and improve health outcomes. In another example, through our support, scientists at the Wadsworth Center were able to develop a new process for antibody screening among newborns to help understand how different waves of infections had unique geographic patterns and map vaccine uptake over time.

We also worked to provide equipment and supplies to communities across the country struggling with shortages and supply chain issues.


The impact of the funds from the CDC Foundation exponentially improved the work that we were already doing in our communities. We were able to hire outreach teams to go door to door to build community and to strengthen relationships with our community partners and build trust.

Atara Young, Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation and CDC Foundation grantee organization


The timing of this grant was just perfect. It allowed us to react very quickly and to create widespread services that have since become permanent.

Bruce Fulton, executive director of Neighbor Ride



Providing Support for Health Departments in Your Community


From the outset, the COVID-19 pandemic strained the nation’s health care and public health systems like never before. State, territorial, tribal and local health departments—which were already struggling with funding and staff shortages—found themselves stretched to the limit. With support from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) grant, we hired and managed critical workforce staff, including contract tracers, case investigators, lab technicians, data scientists and epidemiologists in health departments across the country.


We would not have been in the great position we are at our tribal health department if it wasn’t for my CDC Foundation team. The work they’ve done in the seven months that they’ve been with me has been work that would’ve taken years otherwise.

Stephanie Jay, health educator at the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians


Learn more about our surge staffing efforts.



Creatively Collaborating for Success


Through our relationships with partners in various industries, we were uniquely positioned to find creative solutions to challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. We worked with arts and cultural organizations, influential community voices and nontraditional partners to align a diverse interests and resources and leverage all parties’ strengths for the good of the public health response. Events to raise awareness and funds for the COVID-19 response included partnering with gamers, athletes and musicians, holding a “Saturday Night Seder” with celebrities and a Facebook fundraising campaign with a $10M matching gift.



Empowering Innovative Outreach


By providing funding directly to community-based organizations, we were also able to empower trusted voices to share accurate and timely information on COVID-19 and vaccinations.

In one example, we were proud to provide COVID-19 test kits and free onsite COVID-19 vaccinations to an Atlanta-area organization focused on affordable health care and other services to support the physical, mental, emotional and financial health needs of community members. In tribal communities, where health disparities and a lack of health and community services were made worse by the pandemic, we worked with partners to provide grants to 12 different tribal communities for trained staff to fill in for existing family and other informal caregivers and provide respite care to those in need. A series of bilingual plays supported by the CDC Foundation incorporated public health messaging about vaccination for COVID-19 and flu into their dramatic storylines.


It’s a labor of love, it’s an act of community care and it’s an opportunity for us to come together—without shame or judgment—to talk about safety, responsibility and how we’re really doing in the face of the pandemic.

Lily Raabe, director of Olympia Family Theater


We’re realizing people respond best to first-hand perspectives. Even my immediate family members, who were skeptical of the vaccines in the beginning, were able to come to a decision after hearing first-hand perspectives. Basically, people need to trust someone, in order to come to a decision.

Leema Pradhan, program manager at the Nepal Seattle Society



Providing Public Health Leadership


At the CDC Foundation, we believe that people, groups and organizations have greater positive impact and can accomplish more collectively than individually. During COVID-19, we were able to bring together many different partners and serve in a leadership role through our work with philanthropy and the public and private sectors.

Data and research were essential to the COVID-19 response. As one example of our work in action advancing innovative public health solutions,we partnered with research organizations to gather daily samples from a dozen wastewater plants for SARS-CoV-2 and track specific variants.

To provide resources to local organizations, we acted quickly to use donated media support to create the Community COVID Coalition, a program aimed at helping states educate their diverse communities about the importance of contract tracing and its role in slowing the spread of COVID-19. We also partnered with public and private organizations to help create the Health Action Alliance, a joint initiative that is helping U.S. employers navigate evolving physical and mental health challenges and prepare for future public health emergencies.

We also worked directly with individuals to provide information and resources. Early in the pandemic response, we launched a campaign with resources to support mental health during the pandemic and cope with COVID-19 related stress. When it became clear that there was a gap in accessible COVID-19 information for individuals with disabilities, we supported the creation of a new microsite to host official COVID-19 guidance and information in alternative formats, including accessible digital materials and braille-ready files. In another example, we also supported the creation of the Search. Find. Help. website that provides a searchable online library that connects organizations to nearly 300 existing resources that can help older adults and caregivers.


As people wondered whether Omicron would eventually arrive in the United States, our data showed it was already here. We shared those results with our state and county public health partners within a week of the World Health Organization designating Omicron a virus of concern, giving them more information to guide their responses.

Alexandria Boehm, PhD, an investigator leading the Sewer Coronavirus Alert Network


The commitment that the people at the CDC Foundation have shown has been outstanding. We were working with them in a very short timeframe, and they were always very responsive to our requests.

Fernanda Lessa, lead of the prevention team, International Infection Prevention and Control Program, CDC




Playlist: The CDC Foundation and COVID-19

The United States and our world have faced unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. This playlist represents just some of the ways we, along with our partners and supporters, activated in response.



Examples of Our COVID-19 Work in Action