Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What is the San Mateo County Strong Fund?

The San Mateo County Strong Fund (SMC Strong) was established by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors on March 24, 2020 to assist individuals, families, non-profits and small businesses that have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

How can I donate to the fund?

Donations can be made by clicking here. Donations are accepted via PayPal and credit card.

Will all the funds be distributed in San Mateo County?

Yes. All donations will go to assist residents of San Mateo County, non-profits that assist County residents and small businesses located in San Mateo County.

Did San Mateo County contribute to the SMC Strong Fund?

Yes. The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors approved a $3 million contribution of Measure K funds to the SMC Strong Fund on March 24, 2020.

How is the fund managed?

The San Mateo County Strong fund is managed by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The Foundation is charging a 1% management fee, a reduced rate from their usual 5% management fee.

Are contributions to the fund tax-deductible?

All contributions to the fund are treated as gifts to a public charity and are generally tax deductible, subject to individual limitations. We recommend consulting a tax professional if you have questions about the deductibility of your gift to the fund.

Who will decide how the funds are distributed?

The Board of Supervisors will approve a distribution plan for each recipient group, individuals and families, non-profits and small businesses adversely affected by COVID-19.

How can donors be sure their contributions are going to help people in need, non-profits or small businesses adversely affected by COVID?

As noted above, the County Board of Supervisors is approving distribution plans for all contributions to SMC Strong. For example, plans will require non-profit grantees to report on how awards are spent including number of people assisted and how grant funds are being applied to operating expenses. That information will be reported back to the Board on a monthly basis. See details on assistance for individuals and families below which includes documentation requirements for income and need along with payments for expenses to vendors, not cash payments to applicants. The details on the small business distribution program are still being developed, but the same type of fraud prevention measures will be included in that program too.

Assistance for Individuals and Families Affected by COVID

How will funds be distributed to individuals and families?

The funds to assist individuals and families adversely affected by COVID-19 will be distributed, based on eligibility and funding availability, through the Emergency Financial Assistance program managed by Samaritan House in coordination with the eight Core Service Agencies located throughout the county. San Mateo County residents interested in accessing services, including applying for emergency financial assistance, can contact their local Core Service Agency. Contact information for the Core Service Agencies is found at:

What kind of assistance is provided?

COVID-19 Emergency Financial Assistance can be used to pay for the following emergency needs:

  • Housing assistance such as deposits, rent or mortgage payments
  • Utility arrears or deposits
  • Transportation assistance such as car repairs, vehicle registration or other transportation needs
  • Other essential needs, such as medical expenses, as determined on a case by case basis

What are the eligibility requirements for the COVID emergency financial assistance program?

To be eligible for COVID-19 emergency financial assistance, an individual or household must meet all the following criteria and provide the requested documentation about their household’s financial and housing situation in order to be considered for the available funding:

  • Be a San Mateo County resident; and
  • Demonstrate through paystubs, bank accounts and/or other documents a household income within the past 30 days at or below the income eligibility threshold, which is currently 60% of the Area Median Income. (Note: the specific income threshold may be shifted, as the COVID-19 situation/response evolves.); and
  • Demonstrate financial hardship resulting from COVID-19 such as proof of lost or reduction in income; and
  • Demonstrate financial need such as a letter for past due rent from a landlord, past due utility or medical bills, emergency car repair or vehicle registration which if not addressed would create hardship for the household; and
  • Ability to maintain housing or have a plan in place to maintain housing which will be determined on a case by case basis.

Are there eligibility requirements related to citizenship or documentation status?

No. All residents who meet the eligibility requirements, regardless of citizenship or documentation status may apply for COVID-19 Emergency Financial Assistance.

Where do I go to apply for COVID Emergency Financial Assistance?

Call or visit your nearest Core Service Agency (contacting by phone is preferred at this time due to social distancing). See the list at the link below to locate the Core Service Agency that serves your area of the County.

What happens if I request financial assistance through the COVID Emergency Financial Assistance program?

When you contact your local Core Service Agency, the staff there will ask for information about your household and your current situation (including income, financial resources, and housing). If it seems that your household may be eligible, the Core Service Agency staff will provide you with information on the application process, which includes providing various verification documents (related to income and financial resources, employment, housing situation, etc.). Once all requested information and documents are submitted, the Core Service Agency and Samaritan House staff will review and may ask for additional information or documentation. The Core Service Agency staff will communicate to you regarding the result of your application and whether assistance will be able to be provided, based on the eligibility criteria and the available funding, as funding is limited.

How much money is available through the COVID Emergency Financial Assistance Program?

The Board of Supervisors directed $1 million of their contribution to SMC Strong to the COVID-19 Emergency Financial Assistance Program. If additional donations are received from private donors, charitable foundations or other sources, that amount will increase.

How much does each applicant receive from the COVID-19 Emergency Financial Assistance Fund?

For applicants who are eligible, whether or not they receive assistance and if they do, what amount of assistance they receive, is dependent on factors such as their household’s income, resources, and need and on the availability of funding, as funding is limited.

For clients who are eligible and determined that they will receive assistance, will they receive the assistance as cash?

No. The Emergency Financial Assistance Program will direct payments on behalf of approved applicants. For example, an approved partial rent payment would be made directly to the property owner or payment for emergency and necessary car repairs would be made directly to the repair shop.

What if I need help with other needs such as groceries or help applying for unemployment?

For questions about food resources and how to access meal and grocery assistance programs, contact Second Harvest of Silicon Valley’s Food Connection line at 800-984-3663. You can find out more about unemployment insurance and can apply online at You can also contact the Core Service Agency that serves your area as they provide a variety of services including food resources, assistance with applying for resources like CalFresh and others, and referrals for homeless services. If you need assistance that the Core Service Agency can’t provide directly, they will make every effort to connect you to local agencies and organizations that can meet your needs. A link to the Core Services Agencies is below.

Small Business Grant Program

Are small business grants still available?

This grant opportunity is now closed. There are more than 150 agencies that will be placed on a waiting list until additional funding is received. For future opportunities, please check back on this website. You may also visit for information on non-profit emergency grant opportunities.

How can I learn more about the Federal Stimulus bill or other State and Federal programs for small businesses?



Non-Profit Grant Program

Are non-profit grants still available?

This grant opportunity is now closed,. There are more than 150 agencies that will be placed on a waiting list until additional funding is received. For future opportunities, please check back on this website. You may also visit for information on non-profit emergency grant opportunities.

Are there other programs are offering grants to non-profit agencies?

Yes. You may also want to consider applying for the Regional Non-Profit Emergency Fund program through the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. We also suggest you research additional grant opportunities.

In challenging times like these, it’s more important than ever that we all pull together.
Thank you for visiting this page and for your generosity.

Help the County of San Mateo combat the COVID-19 pandemic by donating to the San Mateo County Strong Fund. Your tax-deductible donation goes towards outbreak response efforts, including providing assistance to individuals, families, small businesses, and non-profits in San Mateo County. 
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Silicon Valley Community Foundation is a non-profit public benefit corporation dedicated to charitable activities within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended. Financial information about Silicon Valley Community Foundation can be obtained by contacting us at 2440 West El Camino Real, Suite 300, Mountain View, California 94040-1498, 650.450.5444.

SMCU Community Fund is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization - Tax ID #85-0663372.
All Donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.
Contact: SMCU Community Fund, ATTN: Support Services, 350 Convention Way , Redwood, City, CA 94063.