Oprah Winfrey gives grants to ‘home’ cities during pandemic

Oprah Winfrey
Posted at 8:35 AM, May 20, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Oprah Winfrey is giving grants to the cities she’s called home through her $12 million coronavirus relief fund.

She announced Wednesday that her Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation will donate money to organizations dedicated to helping underserved communities in Chicago; Baltimore; Nashville, Tennessee; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Kosciusko, Mississippi, where she was born.

"I’m proud to be able to support the communities I have called home," said Winfrey. "These organizations are working tirelessly on the ground to help those hit the hardest by the pandemic, meeting people where they are and serving in ways needed most."

After about a month of discussions, they came up with the NashvilleNurtures project.

"We were so honored when Ms. Winfrey called. I said, 'what do you need me to do,'" said Dr. Glenda Glover, president of Tennessee State University.

Oprah partnered with Mount Zion Baptist Church and her alma mater TSU to give $200 Kroger gift cards to Nashville families.

Winfrey's $2 million Nashville donation will be able to help more than 10,000 families impacted by COVID-19.

"What I saw first hand was single mothers where 200 made all the difference in the world," said Bishop Joseph Walker. "They were just so grateful and this represented hope."

Winfrey is also a former NewsChannel 5 anchor.

The grants will go to the folllowing organizations:

Live Healthy Chicago, an initiative to provide thousands of families in predominately African-American and Latinx communities, known to face an elevated risk of severe symptoms, immediate support in the form of wellness visits, contact tracing and care packages. Live Healthy Chicago helps to build the capacity of organizations that are on the front lines in the fight against this pandemic. It also invests in the long term recovery of these communities. Ms. Winfrey reached out to community organizations to best support Chicago, and in response, helped institute a collaboration between West Side United, Rush University Medical Center, the MAAFA Redemption Project, My Block My Hood My City and Forty Acres Fresh Market. Live Healthy Chicago's efforts complement the work done by City of Chicago’s Racial Equity Rapid Response Team, which West Side United helped convene in April 2020 at the request of Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

NashvilleNurtures, a collaboration between Mount Zion Baptist Church and Tennessee State University, Ms. Winfrey’s alma mater, providing immediate food relief to over 10,000 families in the greater Nashville area. A full list of the Nashville Pastors Coalition that Winfrey held an initial call with regarding how to best support the community, and all organizations involved in this partnership, can be found at

SaintA which provides telehealth mental health services to Milwaukee residents, particularly the African-American community hit hardest by COVID-19. SaintA is outfitting up to 150 students, adults, and families, who would not otherwise be able to access quality mental health care, with telehealth devices and internet access for a year.

The Nia Imani Family, Inc. in Milwaukee which provides housing for young, pregnant or first-time mothers, many of whom are recovering from homelessness, violence, and traumatic life experiences.

The Boys and Girls Club of Kosciusko, Mississippi which established a drive-thru food pantry to provide daily food support for over 1,500 children in East Mississippi.

Living Classrooms Foundation, a nonprofit in Baltimore that disrupts the cycle of poverty and helps the community become safer, stronger, and healthier by meeting individuals where they are and building skills for life. Living Classrooms inspires children, youth, and adults to achieve their potential through hands-on education, workforce development, health and wellness, and violence prevention programming.

Center for Urban Families, a Baltimore organization that addresses some of the city’s most pressing issues including poverty, unemployment, father-absence, and family disintegration. Through addressing the key challenges of Baltimore’s urban families by working to connect fathers to their children, creating opportunities for economic and financial security through work, and providing access to other key interventions and supportive services, CFUF has served over 29,000 vulnerable Baltimoreans, providing the bridge that many have needed to attain stability and serves more than 1,400 men and women a year.