SAN ANTONIO — Families directly impacted by the shooting at Robb Elementary can now apply for a share of a massive victim's fund.
The National Compassion Fund (NCF) began accepting requests for the monetary gifts Tuesday. A local committee will soon distribute portions of the so-called Uvalde Together We Rise fund, worth at least $16 million, to eligible applicants.
"The folks that are covered are the people who were there, on campus, at 11:27 A.M. when shooting began," said Jeff Dion, executive director for the National Compassion Fund.
A number of organizations began taking donations soon after the May 24 tragedy. Eventually, six groups pooled their collections into the Uvalde Together We Rise fund to form what is likely the largest victims' relief effort.
The NCF will oversee the money.
A special panel comprised of Uvalde residents met for weeks to determine how to distribute the cash. The steering committee eventually decided to allocate the donations in tiers.
The largest gifts are reserved for legal heirs of the 21 victims who died in the shooting. Injured survivors will net the next-largest amounts.
People who were in Robb Elementary' s western wing during the shooting are eligible for the third-largest gifts. Students who were on the playground when shooting began will take a slightly smaller amount, along with funeral home workers who took fire from across the street.
People who were elsewhere on Robb's campus during the shooting will collect the smallest gifts.
Click here for more details about the gift tiers and eligibility criterion.
Applications are due on Oct. 13. The NCF will not accept donations after Oct. 20.
Gift amounts will not be adjusted for need. Adult recipients are free to spend the money how they choose.
"All of the families of the deceased will be treated in the exact same way, regardless of their circumstances," Dion said. "We think that's the right thing to do."
Under Texas law, younger recipients will not be allowed to access the money until they turn 18-years-old. Guardians will need to establish trust funds in those children's' names.
Other families collecting federal aid, such as Medicaid, may need to consult with NCF advisers so the gifts do not jeopardize their eligibility for government assistance.
The NCF has hired 15 people to walk applicants through the process, should they need help.
"There's a lot of people on the ground that are ready to help guide families through this process to help make it as easy as possible for them," Dion said.
Advance payments are available to families who need them. People in the highest gift tier are eligible to collect $25,000 advance payments, to be deducted from their total allocation.
Uvalde residents have waited for months to collect the donations, flocking to community to ask where the money went.
"This is an opportunity for people to give to a trusted source and know that 100 percent of these donations are going to people who are most directly impacted," Dion said.