At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, Lockheed Martin took urgent action to prioritize the health and safety of our employees while maintaining our essential operations. Lockheed Martin responded swiftly to protect our employees, continue customer delivery, ensure continuity through our value chain and support our communities. We leveraged our strong leadership and resources to meet the unique needs of our various stakeholder groups.
Our top priority in the face of COVID-19 is to protect the safety and well-being of our employees. During the pandemic, we implemented a flexible teleworking policy for employees who can meet our customer commitments remotely. In addition to promoting Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services, Lockheed Martin health plans temporarily are covering COVID-19 treatment and telehealth services without any cost or cost sharing for enrolled employees and family members. This coverage ensures access to critical services such as COVID-19 medical care without worry of financial hardship, and access to virtual mental health services during an unprecedented time of stress and uncertainty. The Lockheed Martin Employee Disaster Relief Fund, which offsets costs associated with short-term emergency response and recovery in the face of a Federally-declared disaster, was activated to assist employees impacted by COVID-19. The fund disbursed $271,500 to support 608 employees. In addition to implementing new safety guidelines and providing resources such as personal protective equipment (PPE) to facilitate a safer work environment, we also offered direct access to COVID-19 testing through CVS Health. Despite uncertainties created by the virus, we continued our planned talent acquisition processes using virtual technology solutions to engage with and hire more than 11,000 people. For more information on our remote hiring efforts, please see the Talent Recruitment section of this report.
To support the defense industrial base and the greater economy, we launched Rise Up Resources, a campaign to facilitate communication with our suppliers and connect them with best practices and resources to respond to the unique challenges that emerged as a result of the pandemic. For example, we provided suppliers with COVID-19 reporting protocol, informed by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance. We provided financial resources to vulnerable businesses by using accelerated progress payments from the U.S Government plus cash on hand to advance $2.1 billion to our suppliers as of Dec. 31, 2020. This included accelerated payments to nearly 6,200 small businesses since March 2020. For more information on our efforts to support our suppliers, please see our COVID-19 Supply Chain Information page.
During the challenging times created by the pandemic, it became more important to come together in support of our communities. We donated nearly $22 million to non-profit organizations and public schools trying to alleviate the educational, food and health challenges of COVID-19. We also worked to distribute PPE in our local communities. Lockheed Martin partnered with Boulder Crest Foundation to deliver critical mental health programming that wasn’t readily available during the pandemic. This donation is part of a larger $1 million grant to expand access to proven mental health services for combat veterans across the country. Even as employees shifted to work from home, we continued to partner with our food service providers to donate more than 300,000 meals to various charitable organizations around the country. In addition to supporting pandemic first responders, we made donations to support public school students’ access to technology. For example, Lockheed Martin supported 60 public school districts, connecting thousands of students with resources for technology and other improved distance learning outcomes.
To help solve the most pressing challenges faced by federal, state and local officials, we offered our engineering and technical capabilities. This included donating the use of our corporate aircraft and vehicle fleet for relief logistical support and medical supply delivery. We also donated the use of our facilities for crisis-related activities including critical medical supply storage, distribution and COVID-19 testing as needed.
Please visit the Lockheed Martin COVID-19 Information page for our most up-to-date information on our COVID-19 response.