41 posts categorized "Covid-19"

International grantmaking during COVID: a focus on equitable access to education in Latin America

August 12, 2020

International grants_tinker foundationIt’s safe to say that no person or organization is having the 2020 they expected. At the Tinker Foundation, the pandemic has caused us to shift course significantly as Latin America, the region central to our mission, struggles with a once-in-a-century health, economic, and social crisis. And while our home base is New York City, we are challenging ourselves to put our assets to work for the organizations and communities at the epicenter of the pandemic there.

Like many other foundations, when the coronavirus emerged we reached out to our current grantees to offer support. At that point, in mid-March, we questioned whether it might seem "U.S.-centric" to send a communication about a virus that had not yet reached large swaths of the hemisphere. In retrospect, that concern seems quaint. By mid-May, a New York Times headline, "Latin America’s Outbreak Rivals Europe’s. But Its Options Are Worse," was sounding the alarm. As of this writing, the region leads the world in deaths from COVID-19.

As we talked with our grantees, we noted how quickly many were mobilizing amid the uncertainty (and despite, in some countries, official denials that the virus was a problem). One grantee, the Argentine fact-checking and investigative journalism organization Chequeado, repurposed travel funds from a grant to prototype a website dedicated to combating misinformation about the virus. Within weeks, they had secured additional funding and launched a regional effort with more than twenty other organizations.

Within Tinker, we recognized the need to begin taking action — just as our grantees had — while at the same time laying the groundwork for more substantive grantmaking. We started small, reallocating funds from other budget lines to support rapid-response grantmaking. These early grants prioritized the immediate needs of vulnerable populations, including the millions of Venezuelan migrants and refugees unable to work as stay-at-home orders rolled out across Latin America. Two small grants to Tinker grantee partners in Central America focused on vulnerable children affected by school closures. Another sought to support civil society organizations working to shift strategies in response to the crisis.

As we began making plans for the remainder of the year, the scale of the COVID catastrophe in Latin America became clearer. Ecuador experienced a devastating early wave of infections that collapsed the health system in Guayaquil, its largest city. Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and Peru all appeared in the list of seven countries with the highest incidence of COVID. A virus first introduced to Latin America by international travelers returning home from abroad was now tightening its grip on vulnerable populations across the region, from residents of crowded informal settlements, to migrants and refugees, to Indigenous and Afro-descendent communities.

As a midsize foundation, we knew we had to make the most of our grantmaking resources. But we had other important assets we could draw on, too, including longstanding relationships and networks, operational flexibility, and an engaged board willing to operate differently in response to a crisis. In addition to maintaining some longer-term grantmaking across our program areas, we decided it made sense to identify one COVID-related priority to focus on in the remainder of the year and give it our all.

Discussions with grantees, staff, experts, and board members all pointed to the impact of the pandemic on education, an existing Tinker program area. We learned, for instance, that by June, 95 percent of students in the region were out of school. As in other parts of the world, ministries of education, administrators, and teachers had quickly shifted gears — introducing online instruction strategies meant to replace classroom instruction. And yet past crises suggested that students would incur significant learning losses, and that many would not return to school at all, with the impacts likely greatest among students who had faced barriers to equitable education pre-pandemic.

In late June, Tinker launched a $500,000 funding initiative to help address the specific educational challenges generated by the pandemic. Over the coming months, we will partner with Latin America-based civil society organizations working to address the near-term effects of school closures. Many of these organizations have already hit the ground running, using their own resources to fill gaps, pilot innovative approaches, and support teachers and students. Additional funding can enable further experimentation and help consolidate and scale what is already working. Critically, the initiative will seek to complement and build on the priorities and initiatives of public education systems in the region.

The enormous response to our initiative highlights the urgent need for more funding for education as the virus continues to upend systems and the status quo. We received more than five hundred letters of inquiry, approximately five times what a typical call for applications from our Education program attracts. Following a review of a subset of full proposals, we will announce grants in September.

The applications we’ve received speak to the predictable but profound challenges of ensuring equitable access to education in a pandemic context — particularly in rural and low-income urban areas where students have limited access to the Internet or Internet-enabled devices. The proposed projects also demonstrate the resilience and creativity of schools, teachers, and civil society organizations, all of whom are imagining new ways to reach and engage students, as well as reinvigorating older tools like community radio. A number of applications call for investment in social-emotional learning and other efforts to address the trauma occasioned by the pandemic as a critical enabler of continued learning.

Following this round of special grants, we will work closely with our partner organizations to learn from their work and identify broader areas for research and innovation, larger-scale funding, and policy change. As a foundation that works across Latin America, we also hope to connect and convene local actors that share a commitment to protecting access to education throughout the crisis.

COVID-19 has created profound challenges across many domains — all of them competing for policy makers' and the public's attention. But when we look back on this challenging time, it may well be disruption to education that casts the longest shadow over Latin America. If millions of students fall behind or become permanently disconnected from school, the impact could last at least a generation. At Tinker, we will continue to support those in Latin America who are imagining and taking action to ensure a better future for the region’s children and young people.

Headshot_caroline_kronley_squareCaroline Kronley is president of the New York City-based Tinker Foundation. Prior to joining the foundation, she worked as managing director for strategy at the Rockefeller Foundation, leading the development of new programmatic initiatives, and before that she was a management consultant at Katzenbach Partners and at Booz & Company, where she served a broad range of clients on strategy and organizational performance.

Nonprofits: it’s time to redefine your corporate relationships

August 11, 2020

Rethink your corporate relationshipsNonprofits are looking at one of the best opportunities in decades to redefine their corporate partnerships for the betterment of their constituents.

The public's expectations with respect to the role business should play in addressing social inequities has shifted dramatically over recent years. In this moment, how corporations decide to meet these expectations has enormous implications for nonprofit leaders. Our latest research, The Corporate Social Mind Research Report, includes two findings that argue strongly for a rethink of the nonprofit-corporate funder relationship: 1) these days, Americans expect companies to have an opinion on pressing social issues; and 2) companies actually do influence how individuals act in support of particular causes.

It is our view that both findings create an opportunity, even a responsibility, for nonprofits to help companies successfully engage customers, employees, and stakeholders in taking action on social issues.

Large segments of the American public are hungry for accurate information about the issues they care about and are looking for ways to meaningfully engage in change. And these days they have added publicly owned companies to their list of go-to sources for such information. If your nonprofit hasn’t already redefined its relationships with its corporate funders, it's time to get started.

Here are a couple of things you can do:

Reposition your nonprofit as a subject-matter expert. Nearly half (46 percent) of consumers we surveyed expect a company to know how its products or services are impacting society. This represents a golden opportunity for nonprofits to step up as subject-matter experts. Many nonprofits are well-positioned to provide information about corporate impact at every level of a corporation’s operations, from product design, to supply chain management, to branding and marketing.

In our survey, almost 60 percent of respondents said they believe companies should make clear where they stand on racial equity, social justice, and discrimination, while almost half want the same for the environment/climate change. Again, nonprofits, in their role as experts, can help companies define their positions and craft messaging around their issue. Companies know their business and customers, but a nonprofit is more likely to understand who is (and isn't) affected by an issue and how a business might be impacting its constituents. In other words, nonprofits can educate, inform, and help companies build knowledge about an issue and bring a more authentic, public-focused perspective to its internal conversations.

Partners in change. When we asked, "What actions have you (as a consumer) taken in the last three weeks because a company asked you to get involved in a social issue?" we learned that:

  • 25 percent of those who responded to the survey posted or shared something related to an issue;
  • 21 percent started to or increased their purchases of local products and/or services;
  • 20 percent said they had made an in-kind donation to a charity; and
  • 20 percent said they had made a cash donation to a cause or charity.

In addition, a quarter (26 percent) of respondents think companies should engage their employees in fundraising or volunteering for a social cause or issue. Many nonprofits are well positioned to offer easy and customized access to such opportunities, educating employees about their issue and the company’s role in creating impact while underscoring its commitment to the issue.

Our survey results illustrate the potential of authentically engaged companies to make a difference. Viewed holistically, social issues cut across all segments of society, from companies, to donors, to voters and policy makers, to beneficiaries, consumers, and investors. Social change happens when all of these groups ignore their traditional roles and organizational boundaries and join forces to advance solutions to an issue.

The two most prominent issues in 2020, COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter, are causing many companies to rethink their role in advancing social change. Matching the level of engagement of their customers is likely to be a challenge for many of them, but one well worth the effort. Nonprofits are well-positioned to support companies and help inform their decisions and actions. As companies work to develop more effective and meaningful approaches to urgent social issues, nonprofits have a unique opportunity to redefine the corporate-nonprofit relationship by significantly enhancing the value they bring to it.

Headshot_derrick_feldmann_2015Derrick Feldmann (@derrickfeldmann) is the founder of the Millennial Impact Project, lead researcher at Cause and Social Influence, and the author of the new book, The Corporate Social Mind. You can read more by Derrick here.

Women and the changing face of philanthropy

July 29, 2020

Women_high_fives_GettyImages_PhilanTopicAs the current global public health crisis galvanizes people to give, women are well-positioned to accelerate changes in the philanthropic landscape that are already in motion.

According to Giving USA's recently published Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2019, charitable giving in America totaled nearly $450 billion in 2019, the second-highest total ever (adjusted for inflation) and a 4.2-percent increase from 2018.

And while conventional wisdom might have predicted a decline in giving over the first three months of 2020 due to COVID-19, the pandemic has actually motivated Americans to give at a rate higher than seen in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and after the 9/11 attacks. Further evidence of Americans' generosity was provided by Fidelity Charitable, which released a report in June showing that grant awards from its donor-advised funds since the beginning of the year totaled some $3.4 billion, up 28 percent over the six-month period in 2019.

Another survey, this one conducted by the Community Foundations Public Awareness Initiative, found an 80 percent year-over-year increase in gifts to thirty-two community foundations from March to May 2020.

"Before the pandemic started, women were increasing their giving and broadening beyond what they might normally support," Jennifer Alcorn, deputy director of philanthropic partnerships for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, told Forbes. "From research and development, local food banks, giving direct relief to families across the country, to global health — women are a driving force behind the increase in giving we’re seeing right now."

This shifting dynamic is best understood as a movement started by women eager to engage in philanthropy that has the potential to benefit women. According to the Boston Consulting Group, private wealth held by women grew from $34 trillion to $51 trillion between 2010 and 2016 — an increase of 50 percent in just six years. It's a trend likely to continue, as a significant amount of the private wealth projected to change hands over the next few decades is likely to be transferred to women.

What's more, it seems that philanthropy comes naturally to women. A 2017 study by the University of Zurich found that women are more likely than men to engage in prosocial behavior (defined as voluntary behavior intended to benefit others), including simple acts of kindness and donating to charity. Indeed, research supported by PayPal found that women give more to charity despite earning 19 percent less than men, and that as they age they become even more generous.

Perhaps most importantly, women are taking control of their own destiny. A study by the Women's Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis found that women increasingly are spearheading efforts focused on addressing women's issues. Specialized women's funds and foundations are going beyond grantmaking to achieve impact, engaging in activities such as relationship-building, partnerships, and policy advocacy to pursue broader social change.

All of this affirms what I have witnessed as a professional philanthropist and social activist: as women secure more power for themselves, the face of philanthropy will continue to change. It is vital that women shape those trends with intention and an eye to strategy.

One way women who engage in philanthropy can be consequential is to encourage increased support for nonprofits working to empower women and girls, including organizations focused on preventing and funding a cure for breast cancer, providing relief for women who are victims of domestic violence, and supporting female entrepreneurs. While women are exceedingly generous when it comes to donating to other important causes, just 1.6 percent of Americans' charitable giving goes toward nonprofits that work to empower and advocate for women and girls. If women better support one another, others will surely follow and increase their support for women who find themselves at risk.

Women also can more effectively support each other by approaching philanthropy strategically and with the goal of maximizing their return on investment. Individually and collectively, we can be more discerning when deciding where to give and using data to shape our decisions. Viewing giving as a business whose ultimate objective is to deliver the best result for the greatest number of girls and women almost always will amplify the impact of one's gift.

At the Ruderman Family Foundation, we use an intersectionality lens to focus our philanthropic investments: empowering marginalized communities and women to take a more active role in shaping their lives. My experience over the last twenty years has taught me that our approach to  managing challenges and creating solutions works. Philanthropy has proved to be one of the best vehicles we have to express our values and put to work our skills and expertise. I know, and my experience has taught me, that women and girls can be powerful agents of change, and it is up to  philanthropy to help them fulfill that destiny in the boldest way possible.

The tangible impact of women's giving will continue to change the world. The COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to accelerate this much-needed revolution.

Shira Ruderman_PhilanTopic Shira Ruderman is the executive director of the Ruderman Family Foundation.

Students still need emergency aid. Funders must step up to fill the gap.

July 24, 2020

Mother_college_student_son_GettyImages_PhilanTopicjpgIn response to the coronavirus pandemic, colleges, nonprofits, government, and philanthropy moved quickly to disburse emergency aid to students, many of whom found themselves without reliable access to food, housing, and technology after their campuses were forced to close. And with job losses affecting both working students and families, that support may have temporarily allayed the fears of students who wondered whether they would ever be able to return to school.

But for two groups of students — those ineligible for federal financial assistance, including undocumented students, and those, like student-parents, with additional financial needs — much-needed relief was in short supply. When government is either unwilling or unable to support students working to make their lives and communities better, philanthropic institutions have a duty to fill the gap. As a new school year marked by uncertainty draws closer, more emergency aid is needed, especially for students whose educational aspirations may slip through the widening cracks created by the pandemic.

While the federal CARES Act provided $6.3 billion in emergency grant funds for colleges and universities to distribute to students, the U.S. Department of Education's original guidance for the funds left out undocumented students, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, and international students, creating confusion for months and in some cases slowing the distribution of aid to other students.

What's more, the funds provided by the CARES Act could only be used for food, housing, and expenses directly related to the cost of attendance, leaving many students without adequate support to continue their education. For student-parents, in particular — who need to support children as well as themselves — expenses almost always exceed the assistance provided by their schools. Even before the pandemic, the cost of food, housing, and child care — which in many states is costlier than tuition or rent — made it difficult for student-parents to complete a degree. Single mothers, for instance, are more likely than any other group of women to have started but not finished college and just 8 percent of single student-moms graduate on time.

As more funders and institutions of higher education begin to examine how their investments can be used to advance racial equity, it's also important to note that 40 percent of all Black women in college are mothers. Clearly, success in closing racial and gender equity gaps in college success will remain elusive if we ignore the needs of student-parents.

DACA recipients enroll in college at about the same rate as their peers, but they are four times less likely to complete a degree. They also are ineligible for Pell grants or other forms of federal financial aid, which makes the high cost of tuition a significant barrier to their ability to complete their education. And while mental health issues disproportionately impact undocumented students' postsecondary success, many undocumented students are unable to qualify for affordable health insurance.

With limited emergency aid available to student-parents and unavailable to most undocumented students, the long-term success of both groups is in doubt and should be a priority for philanthropy going forward.

There's no shortage of research on the economic and societal benefits of investments in these groups. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has increased high school graduation and college enrollment rates and raised productivity and earnings among DACA recipients. Immigrants and international students make significant contributions to the U.S. economy as well as the innovations needed to address the challenges we face and keep the country competitive in a globalized economy.

Likewise, student-parents are risers and earn better grades than non-parenting students. Investing in their success not only helps them, it also benefits their children. Parents who complete a degree have access to higher-paying jobs and, on average, double their income over the course of their working lives, while studies have shown that even a $1,000 increase in salary can result in as much as a 27 percent increase in a child's cognitive development. We all benefit when committed learners are given an opportunity to realize their potential.

Philanthropy is uniquely suited to address these gaps in emergency aid funding — and many funders are already leading the way. In California, the College Futures Foundation and Mission Asset Fund created a statewide emergency aid fund that prioritizes undocumented students, foster youth, and those who are housing insecure. Edquity, which both of our organizations — Imaginable Futures and ECMC Foundation — support, joined Course Hero and Believe in Students to allow anyone to contribute to a pool of emergency funds that will be distributed to students not eligible for CARES Act aid.

Our own organizations invested in emergency aid efforts when the outbreak and subsequent spread of the virus forced campuses to close: Imaginable Futures targeted $400,000 of its emergency aid funding to student-parents and, because they have higher living expenses, required that funding be set at least $1,200 per student-parent, while ECMC Foundation made more than $1.5 million in direct emergency aid grants that went primarily to students who are not eligible for federal financial aid.

Still, as uncertainty looms over the upcoming school year, the educational dreams of 454,000 undocumented students and nearly four million student-parents hang in the balance. With the crisis likely to extend into the fall, we need more philanthropic investment in emergency aid for students left behind by federal programs. Educational equity, economic mobility, breaking the cycle of poverty, racial justice — none of these ambitious goals are realistic if students do not have the resources to succeed.

Undocumented students, DACA recipients, student-parents attend classes and study while navigating family care, financial insecurity, housing instability, and hunger. They fight for their education and their future every day. It is time we fight with them.

(Photo credit: GettyImages)

Vinice davis_jessica_haselton_PhilanTopic

Vinice Davis is a venture partner at Imaginable Futures and an investor in Edquity. Jessica Haselton is director of Education Innovation Ventures at ECMC Foundation and an investor in and board member of Edquity.

What grantees need most — a partner

July 21, 2020

NorthBergen_Healthy_Places_by_DesignFor better or worse; for richer, for poorer; through sickness and health.

You may not associate this vow with your typical funder — unless you've had the good fortune to partner with New Jersey Health Initiatives (NJHI).

Among the many things that make NJHI unique is the value it places on shifting power to communities, making longer-term commitments so that grantees have the time needed to achieve community transformation, and forming authentic relationships with grantees and partners.

NJHI was established in 1987 as a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). In New Jersey, RWJF's home state, NJHI plays a leading role in advancing the foundation's efforts to build healthier communities through grantmaking and investments. Since its inception, NJHI has supported more than forty statewide funding initiatives encompassing over five hundred grantees across all twenty-one counties in the state, making grants in support of youth-led initiatives, health and well-being, mental health, and community-based capacity development.

Recognizing that the communities it supports are best positioned to create the most impact and sustainable change, the organization strives to be flexible, nimble, and innovative. "We allow community partners to determine the best use of grant funds based on their specific community needs," says NJHI director Bob Atkins. "We have focused our grantmaking on engaging more voices and stakeholders in the communities in which we work, and to have them inform our thinking and approaches to making their communities healthier and more equitable."

As a community-led funder and partner focused on a single state, NJHI can make multiple investments in the same communities in ways that are strategic and complementary, rather than duplicative. "It has been exciting to see past and current grantees weave in elements of what they first received funding for five or ten or fifteen years ago," says NJHI deputy director Diane Hagerman. "We know that changes to health outcomes may not be seen for five or even ten years, so seeing work that was funded in the past resurface in a more current context speaks to the commitment of communities to make lasting change."

NJHI also recognizes that needs and context are not the same across communities, even within a single state. "We've analyzed our approach and become increasingly aware that some of our more distressed communities want help to build their own organizational and collaborative capacity," Hagerman notes. To address those requests, NJHI increased the amount of technical assistance it provides to applicants from distressed communities, many of which don't have a paid grant writer on staff.

More recently, a reimagining of NJHI's approach put greater focus on how it works with communities — as opposed to for communities. "One of the most valuable roles we can play," says Atkins, "is to set the table for grantees and community partners while they decide and create buy-in around what will help them achieve their goals." As such, NJHI leverages its influential role as connector and convener to help its community partners expand their networks and access additional resources, including coaching and collaborative learning and networking opportunities. Such investments provide exceptional returns in terms of building capacity at the community level.

"NJHI not only invests in communities, it invests in leaders and has built a movement across the state of people passionate about health equity," says Mary Celis, director of health initiatives at United Way of Passaic County. "Being a part of the NJHI family means you always have thought-leaders to problem-solve with and learn from."

NJHI's responsiveness during the COVID-19 pandemic provides another example of how it has grounded its investments in relationships. The large number of coronavirus infections and deaths in the state have underscored the important policy and systems work NJHI grantees do to address health disparities in their communities. NJHI was quick, for example, to provide timely funding resources and other critical information to grantees, and it devoted its April monthly Learning Collaborative session to an open discussion about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in grantee communities. It was reassuring for NJHI grantees and partners to hear a funder be transparent about the ways in which the crisis has impacted the work it funds, and that the funder was committed to providing maximum flexibility in terms of its current grants.

The focus on developing meaningful partnerships has been critical to NJHI's efforts to reduce health disparities and create healthier communities in New Jersey. "This work cannot be accomplished alone or in silos," Atkins says. "To be effective in what we are trying to achieve requires partnering with our communities and other organizations. We don't want to simply be seen as 'the funder' — we are their partners, committed to learning from and alongside them."

That strategy serves NJHI, its grantees, and their communities well — and New Jersey is a healthier state because of it.

(Photo credit: New Jersey Health Initiatives/North Bergen Municipal Alliance)

Joanne Lee_PhilanTopicJoanne Lee is collaborative learning director at Healthy Places by Design, an organization that serves as a strategic partner for communities and those who invest in them.

Calling all science funders: biomedical research needs a lifeline

July 16, 2020

Women_medical_research_scientists_GettyImagesWhen research institutions and universities were forced to shut down in March, clinical trials, therapeutic development, and discovery science ground to a halt. While researchers are slowly returning to their labs and restarting their experiments, the scientific world is contending with a loss of productivity and funds that cannot be addressed by simply restarting the stopped clock.

Years of research designed to advance treatments and cures for diseases such as Alzheimer's, diabetes, and depression have been compromised. Researchers at public institutions have reported that critical tools in the development of medical therapies have been lost. Clinical research for diseases other than COVID have seen dramatic setbacks because patients have been unwilling or otherwise unable to assume the risk associated with in-person evaluation for a clinical trial. Some funders are helping researchers address these problems by rearranging budgets and awarding no-cost grant extensions. But such approaches do not take into account the extent of the losses incurred by the shutdown.

Personnel needed to be paid throughout the closures. Re-establishing animal and cell models to replace those that had to be destroyed requires new funds, not just an extension of funds. To make an analogy with the private sector, if science were a business, the last three months would be seen as a series of grievous losses, with the threat of bankruptcy always in the background. But scientific experimentation is not the same as business. The closures weren't just setbacks: our loved ones live with diseases that science is trying to find cures or treatments for, and the COVID-related setbacks of the last three months have resulted in slower development of — and, in some cases, a complete abandonment of — treatments with the potential to save lives.

Layered on top of the very real losses in the lab are the impacts on people — the dedicated researchers who quietly drive scientific progress. Academic science is a notoriously difficult career path: pre-COVID numbers suggest that just 23 percent of biomedical PhDs pursue a career in academic science. But since March, many scientists have seen their job security and long-term prospects thrown into question. Early-career scientists about to move into new faculty positions have had job offers rescinded or delayed, or are competing for fewer available openings. New faculty report struggling to collect sufficient data to be competitive in the federal grants process. Those who are parents may not be able to return to work, given the impact the pandemic has had on child care. This translates into fewer women in the lab, when there are already too few.

At this critical moment, the biomedical research community urgently needs philanthropists to take three steps:

1. Increase budgets for currently funded projects. Science funders know how important flexible funding is. Increasing grant budgets now not only will help mitigate some of the research setbacks of the last three months, it also will underwrite the additional personnel time and equipment needed to get back to square one on experiments that were abandoned.

2. Modify policies and programs to support vulnerable scientists. Science needs scientists. In order to provide those who are brave enough to pursue a career in scientific research with a fair shot, it is important to recognize that certain groups of scientists are more at risk of losing their funding, abandoning the field, or both due to COVID-related pressures. Postdoctoral fellows and newly minted research faculty need stable funding in order to establish their ideas. Female scientists who are also parents are facing greater childcare responsibilities — a fact that is already showing up in fewer grant submissions by women scientists, falling publication rates, and reduced participation in COVID research. And Black and brown scientists who face persistent roadblocks to advancement in their careers need support now more than ever to help them overcome decades of discrimination in funding as well as fewer publication and job opportunities.

3. Strengthen the health research sector. Finally, philanthropy must do more to ensure that organizations working to advance and support biomedical research stay afloat. These organizations play a key role in driving patient-focused progress and accelerating therapeutics in specific areas. Support for organizational overhead — keep-the-lights-on funding— is hopelessly "unsexy" but massively important, in that it keeps experts on the job who are critical to vetting and shepherding good science in its journey from the lab to real-world applications.

In a recent discussion about the actions needed to overcome COVID-19, Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said, "People keep asking me, 'What's the one thing we have to do?' The one thing we have to do is understand that there is not one thing."

This is just as true for science in the context of the pandemic. COVID-related impacts on biomedical logistics, funding, and human talent have put the entire biomedical research ecosystem at risk. Without immediate attention and support for that research and the scientists who work to advance it, there is little hope we will develop new and improved treatments for the thousands of diseases that annually impact millions of people around the globe.

Altimus-Cara_PhilanTopicCara Altimus, PhD, is a director at the Milken Institute Center for Strategic Philanthropy.

A 'Just and Resilient Recovery' framework for international donors and financial institutions

July 09, 2020

HR&A_just_resilient_recovery_shutterstockEven as some of the most severe COVID-19 outbreaks subside, the pandemic continues to spread around the world, with 11.5 million cases confirmed and more than five hundred thousand deaths as we write. Roughly two-thirds of all new confirmed cases are in developing countries, with Latin America alone accounting for over a third of new confirmed cases.

The economic disruption that the virus and measures to contain it have brought to developed economies will be dwarfed by the consequences of similar efforts in the developing world. According to forecasts from the World Bank, COVID-19 will, by the end of 2020, push an additional forty-nine million people into extreme poverty. That represents an increase of 8 percent and would be the first increase in extreme poverty globally since the Asian financial crisis in 1998. The projections suggest that sub-Saharan Africa, where an additional twenty-three million people could fall into extreme poverty, will be hardest hit, with Latin America and the Caribbean and South Asia splitting the balance.

Designing emergency response programs, fiscal and monetary stimulus, and long-term economic recovery plans to address the effects of the pandemic will be more challenging in places where the economic damage is deepest and existing inequality the most acute. Indeed, a combination of already-stagnant economies, tight fiscal conditions, and weak institutional capacity has created a perfect storm in many developing countries.

A Framework for International Donors and Financial Institutions

Against this backdrop, the mitigation of economic and social damage in many countries has been left to global philanthropies and international financial institutions. The G20 countries have agreed to a useful, if limited, suspension of debt service for the poorest countries, and the World Bank moved quickly to mobilize $160 billion in new and repurposed capital, which was followed by other multilateral development groups. We believe, however, that these efforts will be insufficient if these and other institutions do not take a structured approach to understanding needs on the ground and the prioritization of the implementation of their actions.

While most actors have rightfully focused their immediate attention on public health measures and efforts to strengthen the safety net, as cities and regions start emerging from quarantine and effective therapies and vaccines are developed they will need to collectively address the underlying economic and social challenges that have made COVID-19 so devastating and destabilizing for the most vulnerable groups in society.

Based on our experience with previous natural, economic, and humanitarian crises, we have developed a framework to help guide cities and communities on the path to a more "Just and Resilient Recovery." The framework calls for public and private institutions to organize and coordinate their COVID-19 recovery efforts around the four sequential phases illustrated below.

Global Philantropy Commentary Graphic

The time for planning and coordinating fiscal policy efforts is now. Global donors and financial development institutions should start planning and prioritizing how and where their assistance will be directed to ensure that countries and cities that receive that assistance can use it to create a more just and resilient "next" normal that addresses some of the structural inequities of the old normal, including poverty, informality, and discrimination.

Over the coming weeks and months, as institutions continue to organize their internal resources and begin to develop road maps for the next phase of the recovery, they should consider the following:

Assess the economic disruption: As lockdowns ease and more evidence and data becomes available, institutions should develop a more granular understanding of the economic and fiscal impact of the virus in the countries and jurisdictions they serve. This can be done at scale with a dynamic model that takes into consideration baseline economic conditions pre-crisis, the scope of containment measures taken and the degree to which they have been enforced, the level of unemployment (formal and informal), and, where appropriate, the fiscal measures already taken by governments to mitigate the economic impacts of the virus. The model should also take into account the compounding effects of future natural disasters and the percentage of the population lacking access to clean water and waste treatment infrastructure. This more granular understanding of the economic damage resulting from the virus will enable institutions to better calibrate the magnitude and speed of the response required in different countries, regions, and communities.

Understand needs and opportunities: Supported by such an assessment, institutions need to understand which economic sectors and segments of the population have been most impacted and what the opportunities are to rethink how to rebuild and create employment opportunities in more productive industries. A focus on sectors with high economic multipliers such as technology, research, and advanced manufacturing should be seen as an opportunity to bring substantial numbers of workers into the formal economy and prepare large segments of the population for the future of work.

Map resources: Once the economic damage and the opportunities for a more just and resilient economic recovery have been identified, institutions need to think carefully about how to leverage resources from other countries, donors, and the private sector. The capital from donors and multilateral development banks should be seen as a "filler" that closes financial gaps and addresses market failures, catalyzing private investment and participation. Understanding the potential to effectively leverage private-sector participation under the current short-term capital commitments from development banks will be critical. That includes exploring more active participation in public-private concessions, providing availability payments, and making backstop guarantees to de-risk projects.

Prioritize areas of investment: With an understanding of the needs, opportunities, and resources available in the short- and mid-term, institutions should be able to prioritize the allocation of resources across countries and sectors in an efficient way and provide guidance and direction to specific country offices and divisions accordingly. Such a prioritization should consider which industries and clusters are best positioned to increase productivity and create jobs and how communities can benefit from such growth in an inclusive manner. This could include investments in digital infrastructure that pave the way for greater innovation and technology, public transportation to make job opportunities accessible to everyone and cities more sustainable, and resilient infrastructure designed to mitigate the shock and disruption of future climate-related disasters.

The global development community has a generational opportunity to substantially transform the economies of the poorest countries, leveraging resources from all sectors, with a focus on investments that boost productivity and eradicate secular inequities and establish a precedent for a Just and Resilient Economic Recovery. Let’s not let that opportunity go by the wayside.

Shuprotim_Bhaumik_Ignacio_MontojoShuprotim Bhaumik is a partner at HR&A Advisors, where he specializes in economic development and public policy consulting. Ignacio Montojo is a director at HR&A and specializes in the design and implementation of public-private partnerships and financing strategies for infrastructure and real estate development projects. Both have worked on behalf of several international financial institutions, including the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the International Finance Corporation in countries around the world, including Afghanistan, Argentina, Bangladesh, Colombia, Costa Rica, Kenya, Panama, and South Africa.

Young Americans, racial equity, and the pandemic

June 29, 2020

2020-06-07T082928Z_1842925027_MT1AFL127122807_RTRMADP3_BLM_RALLY_IN_RESPONSE_TO_DEATH_OF_GEORGE-FLOYDRecent events have galvanized tens of thousands of young Americans of all races into becoming active and vocal supporters of Black Lives Matter — a vigorous, positive, can’t-be-ignored movement rooted in the efforts of countless others who have worked hard over decades to address and eliminate racial inequality in American society. The fact that the protests erupted in the midst of a public health crisis that required people to physically distance themselves from others has merely served to reinforce the shared experience of the protestors and made many feel as if they are part of an unstoppable global movement. Most young Americans (ages 18-30) now believe real change is at hand and inevitable.

The research initiative I lead under the Cause and Social Influence banner has been tracking the actions of this cohort in real time since the pandemic began, so when the first protests broke out after the killing of George Floyd, we were able to quickly add research questions specific to the issue of racial inequality. The result is four Influencing Young Americans to Act 2020 reports that reveal the kinds of actions young people have taken since Floyd’s death, as well as some of the other factors that have influenced young people since March.

Here are five key takeaways from the reports:

1. Charitable giving by young Americans is up. At the end of 2019, we asked young Americans what action they preferred to make when they supported social issues; only 9 percent said making a charitable gift. That number had inched up to 10 percent by the time a pandemic was declared in March, and ticked up again, to 12 percent in April, where it stayed in May. We expected this number to continue to tick up as social distancing guidelines remained in place in populated urban areas. Instead, as the protests sparked by George Floyd’s death grew in intensity in late May and early June, we began to see proof of what we have long believed and shared with our readers: passion drives participation. Indeed, during the first week of the protests, one-fifth (20 percent) of survey respondents who self-identified as either white, black, or a person of color made a charitable gift. And the passion we are seeing around the issue has sparked support beyond financial donations, including higher levels of volunteerism and advocacy.

2. Interest in online influencers is up. In the initial stages of the pandemic, family and friends were the major influencers in terms of how young Americans perceived and responded to the public health threat. By mid-April, young Americans were more likely to take their cues from local government, while 60 percent of members of this cohort said they were not looking to celebrities or online influencers/content creators for virus-related information. That started to change in mid-May, by which time the percentage of respondents who aid they were not relying on celebrities or online influencers/content creators for COVID information had fallen to 48 percent. The Black Lives Matter protests drove that number down further, especially among young Black Americans. During the first week of June, the percentage of respondents who said they weren’t turning to online influencers/content creators for information had fallen to 33 percent; broken down by racial group, we found that 43 percent of white respondents and 58 percent of young black respondents were looking to social influencers for news about race-based discrimination, racial inequality, and social injustice.

3. Young Americans trust nonprofits and distrust Donald Trump. As the protests were spreading in earnest in early June, nearly 50 percent of young Americans said they felt President Trump was not addressing racial issues “well at all,” with only 16 percent of white/Caucasian respondents saying he was handling the situation “moderately well.” Majorities of both white and black respondents also said they trust social movements and nonprofits more than the president or government to do what’s right with respect to racial inequality, race-based discrimination, and social injustice — a change from the early days of the pandemic, when local government and nonprofits garnered the highest trust rankings.

4. Purchases and companies can influence change. Over a decade of research, we have watched young Americans use their purchasing power to influence companies and brands to support the causes and social issues they care about. But how and where this cohort spends its money became much more obviously intentional after the 2016 presidential election. In the weeks after the election, we found that more than a third (37 percent) of young Americans had shifted their purchasing patterns in significant ways to align more with their positions on social issues. By 2018, a majority of this group believed their purchasing decisions represented a powerful form of activism, and by this spring, as shutdowns and stay-at-home orders became the rule, young Americans were focused on the economic sustainability of local businesses and the things they could do to help business owners. At the same time, eight out of ten (80 percent) young Americans believe companies can influence public attitudes with respect to behaviors that can help limit the spread of the virus. The same belief is reflected in our June survey, with 74 percent of respondent saying companies can have “a great deal” or “some” influence in addressing race-based discrimination, racial inequality, and social injustice.

5. Young Americans are creating new channels of influence. Younger millennials and Gen Z are the most educated young Americans the country has ever seen, and thanks to technology they have the kind of reach that activists in the past could only dream about. With those tools, we see them working to bring about change by petitioning political representatives, mounting advocacy campaigns, and turning out like-minded voters. They also are supporting brands that embody their values, calling out brands that only give lip service to those values, and directing more money to local and small-business owners. And they are giving to the causes they are passionate about.

The coronavirus pandemic and the nationwide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd are showing us how rapidly a fundraising and marketing strategy can be turned upside down. How well nonprofits respond in the months to come will depend on their familiarity with and connection to their audiences and their willingness to adjust their fundraising tactics and appeals to meet the moment.

(Credit: Keiko Hiromi/AFLO)

Headshot_derrick_feldmann_2015Derrick Feldmann (@derrickfeldmann) is the author of Social Movements for Good: How Companies and Causes Create Viral Change, the founder of the Millennial Impact Project, and lead researcher at Cause and Social Influence. You can read more by Derrick here.

We need more than COVID charity; it’s time for systems change

June 16, 2020

Land-grant-university-racial-equityToo many people in our home state of North Carolina are struggling to survive as COVID-19 wreaks havoc on their health, financial stability, schools, and communities. As the pandemic rages on, we also see thousands of residents protesting George Floyd’s murder and the injustices and racism that have permeated all aspects of our society for far too long. Charity is not enough to make a long-term difference.

We must begin laying the groundwork for what comes after this uncertain moment. We have the opportunity to reinvent what we want our state to look like and reform the systems that have failed many of our most vulnerable residents — communities of color, rural residents, elders, children, and families with low incomes.

Like many foundations in our state and around the country, The Duke Endowment and the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust moved quickly in the early months of the public health crisis and released millions of dollars to address urgent needs in the state, including food scarcity, housing insecurity, and inadequate healthcare supplies.

No matter how quickly we move, however, COVID-19 and the nationwide protests spotlight have amplified inequities that existed long before today.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people of color are disproportionately impacted by this virus. They’re more likely to be hospitalized or die from the disease. Latinos are almost three times as likely to be uninsured; African Americans are twice as likely to lack insurance.

We also have learned that many residents with lower incomes are essential — risking their lives so that others can ride the bus, buy groceries, or visit the doctor. A lack of access to affordable housing, reliable transportation, and personal protective equipment puts vulnerable residents in jeopardy.

As philanthropic leaders, we are calling on other foundations, government, and business leaders to think about how we, collectively, can change the path forward.

The public and private sectors came together to respond to urgent needs by investing millions when the COVID-19 crisis hit. If we continue to work together, we can make systemic changes that will help our state thrive well beyond this moment.

What might such a shift look like?

In North Carolina, all residents would have access to quality, affordable health insurance and care — during this health crisis and over the long-term. Residents in rural communities would be able to visit healthcare clinics that offer high-quality primary care and seamless connections, via telehealth, to regional medical centers. Children would have access to and thrive in quality early-childhood programs, where teachers are supported and appropriately compensated. Law enforcement policies that negatively impact communities of color would change.

How can we, collectively, make this happen? We — government, nonprofits, foundations, and businesses — must each do our part to ensure coordinated access to health care and mental health services. We must address the factors outside of medicine that impact health by investing in affordable housing, transportation, economic supports, and access to healthy food. We must increase access to technology and high-speed Internet so students and families can stay connected in a time when virtual learning is imperative. We must invest in innovation centers as our state transitions to value-based care to ensure that this new model of care, one that encourages providers to treat the whole person, produces equitable health outcomes for all. And we must strengthen our state’s public health system so that local communities are better prepared to address the next health crisis head on. These are just a few ideas; working together with our communities, we will develop more.

If we don’t seize this moment, we will end up revisiting these issues — entrenched poverty, systemic racial bias, high uninsured rates, children left behind in school, a shaky public health system — over and over again.

While we can’t literally join hands as we are social distancing, we can unite for change. Philanthropy and business can incubate and pilot innovative ideas and approaches, and our local, state and federal governments can bring those successful ideas and innovations to scale.

Will this take a significant investment of time and resources and a commitment to include all voices in the solutions? Absolutely. But experience shows that we can tackle difficult problems together. The moment to do so is now. COVID-19 and residents marching in the streets have taught us that the stakes of inaction and disinvestment are high.

By investing in bold ways to help our most vulnerable communities, we have an opportunity to build a future where we are stronger than we were before, with an equitable system that supports all residents.

Headshot_comp_Laura_Gerald_Rhett_Mabry_PhilanTopicDr. Laura Gerald is president of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Rhett Mabry is president of the Charlotte-based Duke Endowment.

Foundations step up funding for COVID-19 response efforts (May 16-June 15, 2020)

June 14, 2020

Foundations-pledge-support-for-covid-19-relief-update_full_imageAs COVID-19 continues to disrupt life in the United States and around the globe, private foundations are stepping up with funding to meet the immediate needs of individuals and vulnerable populations impacted by the virus. Here's a roundup of grants announced over the last three weeks:

ALASKA

Rasmuson Foundation, Anchorage, AK | $550,000

The Rasmuson Foundation has announced twelve grants totaling $550,000 in support of COVID-19 response efforts as well as rural healthcare initiatives in Alaska. The second round of funding awarded in partnership with Premera Blue Cross and the Alaska Community Foundation through the Premera Rural Health Care Fund includes grants of $25,000 to the Arctic Slope Native Association for the purchase of oxygen bottles for COVID-19 patients; $65,316 to the Bartlett Regional Hospital for a COVID-19 triage tent; and $32,500 to the Copper River Native Association for emergency room telemedicine equipment.

CALIFORNIA

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Redwood City, CA | $755,000

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has announced grants totaling $755,000 in support of efforts to address the mental well-being of students and teachers impacted by the coronavirus. The Crisis Text Line, which saw a 22 percent increase in texts from students age 17 and younger between March and May, was awarded $550,000 to increase the number of trained volunteer counselors who provide real-time support and references to local care and services, while Healthy Minds Innovations will receive $205,000 to expand its app-based Healthy Minds Program, which is designed to help educators build awareness, connection, insight, and purpose.

Shurl and Kay Curci Foundation, Los Angeles, CA | $1 million

The University of California, Los Angeles has announced a $1 million commitment from the Shurl and Kay Curci Foundation in support of the UCLA COVID-19 Rapid Response Initiative, a partnership of the Fielding School of Public Health and the David Geffen School of Medicine. The gift will enable researchers to test frontline health workers and first responders for active COVID infections, antibodies, and immune response on a regular basis, facilitating rapid diagnosis and helping protect their colleagues and family members.

Omidyar Network, Redwood City, CA | Up to $750,000

The Omidyar Network has announced the recipients of a first round of grants from its COVID-19 Economic Response Advocacy Fund. Through the fund, grants ranging from $75,000 to $150,000 were awarded to the Maine People's Alliance, Michigan People's Campaign, Free Press Action Fund, Roosevelt Institute, Jobs With Justice, Groundwork Action, and Make the Road New York together with Make the Road Action.

startsmall LLC, Mountain View, CA | $11.6 Million

Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey's limited liability company, #startsmall, has announced commitments totaling $11.6 million in support of COVID-19 relief efforts. Commitments include $5 million to World Central Kitchen in support of its Restaurants for the People program in Oakland and another $5 million to former presidential candidate Andrew Yang's nonprofit, Humanity Forward, to help fund a project that provides basic income payments to individuals and families most at risk of experiencing loss of income. Other recipients include Eminem's Marshall Mathers Foundation ($750,000), the Edgewood Center for Children and Families ($350,000), and Sisterhearts, Inc. ($500,000). With this latest round of grants, Dorsey has committed more than $85 million to COVID relief since April, when he pledged $1 billion of his equity stake in Square to charity.

John and Mary Tu Foundation, Fountain Valley, CA | $1 million

The University of California, San Diego has announced a $1 million gift from the John and Mary Tu Foundation in support of translational research aimed at advancing COVID-19 testing and advancing new diagnostics, therapies, and ways to monitor the spread of the virus. The funds will support a team led by virologist Davey Smith, who has been working to sequence the virus and track it as it spreads into vulnerable populations, as well as leading clinical trials of new treatments for those who have developed moderately severe cases of COVID-19.

Weingart Foundation, Los Angeles, CA | $2.7 million

The Weingart Foundation has announced unrestricted operating support grants totaling $2.7 million to twenty-eight nonprofits impacted by the coronavirus. Recipients include the South L.A. Transit Empowerment Zone ($200,000), community-based housing organizations East L.A. Community Corporation ($100,000), and Reach Out West End and Access California Services ($100,000). In the belief that unrestricted funding remains the best way to help nonprofits respond and adapt to the public health emergency, the foundation plans to award up to $20 million in general operating support over the next twelve months.

COLORADO

Katz Amsterdam Foundation, Edgewater, CO | $1 million

Vail Resorts chair and CEO Rob Katz and his wife, Elana Amsterdam, have announced a $1 million grant from the Katz Amsterdam Foundation to the Tulane University School of Medicine in support of efforts to expand COVID-19 testing for populations most at risk in the metro Denver region.

Community First Foundation, Arvada, CO | $454,750

In a second round of funding through its Jeffco Hope Fund, the Community First Foundation has announced grants totaling $454,750 to help stabilize Jefferson County nonprofits that may not be providing direct services to county residents but have been negatively impacted by the virus due to canceled or suspended programming and fundraising events and/or a falloff in donations. Grant recipients include the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver, and Seniors' Resource Center, Inc.

CONNECTICUT

Antonacci Family Foundation, Enfield, CT | $250,000

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts has received grants totaling more than $250,000 from the Antonacci Family Foundation, MassLive.com reports. Awarded through the foundation's Millions of Meals initiative, the funding will support the food bank's network partners in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties; its Brown Bag Food for Elders sites in twenty-one cities and towns in Hampshire and Franklin counties; and its Mobile Food Bank programs in Amherst, Easthampton, Greenfield, and Turners.

FLORIDA

Helios Education Foundation, Tampa, FL | $650,000

Helios Education Foundation and the Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities have announced the Helios-Florida Consortium COVID-19 Summer Completion Grant Initiative in support of low-income students at risk of not completing their degrees as a result of the public health emergency and its economic fallout. Funded by a $650,000 investment from Helios, the initiative will provide students at Florida International University, the University of Central Florida, and the University of South Florida with up to $1,250 to help meet expenses not covered by the CARES ACT or traditional financial aid.

ILLINOIS

Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities, Chicago, IL | $1 Million

The Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities, a funder collaborative that supports proven and promising approaches to gun violence prevention, has announced changes to its annual grant program and is awarding rapid response funding to organizations impacted by COVID-19. Grants were awarded to a hundred and sixty-four nonprofits working in twenty-one neighborhoods on Chicago's South and West Sides to build social cohesion and trust, foster cooperation between residents and the police, and adapt their programming in line with social-distancing requirements.

INDIANA

Ball Brothers Foundation, Muncie, IN | $35,000

The Ball Brothers Foundation has announced grants totaling $35,000 to Ball State University and Ivy Tech Community College in support of COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. The grants include $5,000 to help BSU College of Health's clinics provide telehealth services; $25,000 in support of planning efforts at local K-12 schools as administrators and teachers prepare for the fall; and $5,000 to Ivy Tech Community College's COVID-19 Relief Fund.

KENTUCKY

James Graham Brown Foundation, Louisville, KY | $1.5 million

The University of Louisville has announced a $1.5 million gift from the James Graham Brown Foundation in support of the Co-Immunity Project, a collaboration of the UofL Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute, Louisville Healthcare CEO Council, and Baptist Health, Norton Healthcare, and UofL Health systems. The funding will support expanded testing of individuals for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, as well as the testing of wastewater, with the goal of developing a "virus radar" that provides real-time data for tracking and curbing the spread of COVID-19 in Kentucky.

LOUISIANA

Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, New Orleans, LA | $150,000

The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, with support from the Helis, W.K. Kellogg, and Josef Sternberg Memorial foundations, has announced emergency relief grants totaling $150,000 through its Louisiana Culture Care Fund. Grants of between $5,000 and $12,000 were awarded to seventeen nonprofits, including the Amistad Research Center ($10,000), the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana ($10,000), and the Louisiana Preservation Alliance ($7,500).

MAINE

Sam L. Cohen Foundation, Portland, ME | $1 Million

The Sam L. Cohen Foundation has pledged $1 million in support of organizations and projects providing direct services to populations in Maine impacted by COVID-19. To date, the foundation has awarded thirty-one grants totaling $520,000, including $120,000 in support of programs for low-income individuals and those experiencing homelessness; $100,000 in support of healthcare, mental health, and eldercare services; $180,000 in support of food assistance programs; and $50,000 to COVID-19 community reliefs funds in Cumberland and York counties.

MICHIGAN

Kresge Foundation, Troy, MI | $4.2 Million

The Kresge Foundation has announced grants and grant supplements totaling $4.2 million in support of COVID-19 relief and response efforts in Detroit, Memphis, and across the United States. The foundation awarded new grants totaling approximately $2 million to nonprofits and state agencies, including PolicyLink (Oakland, California), which will receive $500,000 in support of the Convergence Partnership, a funder collaborative that invests in efforts to address structural and institutional barriers affecting the health and well-being of marginalized communities; United States Artists, which was awarded $250,000 to address, through its Artist Relief Fund, the immediate financial needs of individual artists and creative workers; and Whole Child Strategies, which will receive $200,000 in support of a coalition of place-based organizations providing emergency relief to low-income families in eight Memphis neighborhoods. As part of its commitment to provide grantees with more resources and flexibility to respond to the public health emergency, the foundation also is providing supplemental grant funds totaling $2.2 million to a hundred and twenty-four community development corporations and justice- and democracy-focused organizations.

Michigan Health Endowment Fund, Lansing, MI | $5.3 Million

The Michigan Health Endowment Fund has announced grants totaling $5.3 million in support of efforts to improve community health across the state and provide critical help during the COVID-19 crisis. The total includes more than $4.5 million in health impact grants to fifty-two organizations and projects — including many focused on food access, support for older adults, and mental health services — and more than $809,000 in capacity-building grants to eighteen organizations with annual budgets under $5 million. Recipients include the Autism Alliance of Michigan ($100,000), Community Housing Network, Inc. ($50,000), Grand Rapids African American Health Institute ($89,420), Mosaic Counseling ($30,000), Our Kitchen Table ($24,050), and Sylvester Broom Empowerment Village ($100,000).

NEW JERSEY

Russell Berrie Foundation, Teaneck, NJ | $4.48 Million

The Russell Berrie Foundation has announced emergency grants totaling $4.48 million in support of COVID-19 relief efforts in northern New Jersey and Israel. The grants will assist nonprofits working to address medical and healthcare needs, food and economic insecurity, and other social impacts of the pandemic. Grant recipients include Holy Name Medical Center ($250,000), the NJ YMCA Alliance (200,000), the Community Food Bank of New Jersey ($100,000), the Jewish Federation of Northern NJ ($50,000), Azrieli Faculty of Medicine of the Bar Ilan University ($500,000), and the Arab-Jewish Center for Empowerment, Equality, and Cooperation ($50,000).

Kessler Foundation, East Hanover, NJ | $1 Million

The Kessler Foundation has announced COVID-19 emergency grants totaling nearly $1 million to New Jersey nonprofits serving people with disabilities. Thirty-seven organizations received grants ranging from $10,000 to $40,000 to help cover unanticipated needs and expenses, including technology required for remote operations, personal protective equipment (PPE), and supplies needed to meet new federal and state requirements for sanitation and safety measures.

NEW YORK

William T. Grant Foundation, New York, NY; Spencer Foundation, Chicago, IL | $900,000

The William T. Grant and Spencer foundations have announced commitments totaling up to $900,000 with the goal of reducing disparities in youth outcomes exacerbated by the COVID-19 public health emergency. Two initial Rapid Response Research grants will support collaborations between researchers and policy makers — the first between the Boston mayor's office and Northeastern University professor Alicia Modestino, who will use evidence-based design to try to save the city's summer employment programs for youth, and the second bringing together researchers from Drexel University's Juvenile Justice Research and Reform Lab and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges to inform alternatives to confinement for young people caught up in the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

Price Family Foundation, New York, NY | $1 million

Albert Einstein College of Medicine has announced a $1 million challenge grant from Michael F. Price and the Price Family Foundation in support of COVID-19 research. The foundation will match donations on a one-to-one basis to the school, which, in partnership with Montefiore, is leading a national effort to test the efficacy of convalescent plasma for treating those fighting the infection, as well as studies on potential treatments such as remdesivir, leronlimab, and sarilumab.

Surdna Foundation, New York, NY | $4.6 Million

The Surdna Foundation has announced that it has allocated $4.6 million to date in support of grantees working to meet needs in communities of color disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Among other things, the funding will support efforts to assist business owners and workers, mitigate the impact on individual artists of color and small and midsize arts nonprofits serving communities of color, and bolster relief efforts and community organizing in black, brown, and Indigenous communities, with a focus on land, food, and environmental justice. Where appropriate, the foundation also has converted project grants and conference registration fees to general operating support, adjusted the terms of grants, waived project reports, expedited grant payments, and streamlined grant renewals.

Bob Woodruff Foundation, New York, NY | $1.9 million

The Bob Woodruff Foundation has announced $1.9 million grants to thirteen organizations working to provide veterans, service members, and their families and caregivers with health and wellness services; support veterans and military families transitioning into civilian communities; and address the acute and critical needs of veterans impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Grant recipients include Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), which is working to address the immediate emotional and financial needs of military survivors facing increased anxiety and depression as a result of the loss of income and isolation caused by COVID-related shutdowns; the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center's Medical-Legal Partnerships, which is providing legal services needed to address complex social factors affecting veterans' housing status, health, and well-being; and Goodwill Industries of Houston, which will provide vocational training to prepare veterans for high-need, high-growth careers.

Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, Winston-Salem, NC | $2.7 million

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust has announced investments totaling more than $2.7 million in flexible funding for COVID-19 relief efforts in Forsyth County and across North Carolina. Grants were awarded to healthcare delivery systems, including hospitals and associated clinics, free clinics, and health centers that regularly see Medicaid, Medicare, and uninsured patients; local and statewide community foundations, many of which are helping nonprofits meet the basic needs of vulnerable populations; local health departments, which require additional capacity to test, track, and report cases, coordinate state- and local-level responses, and protect populations most at risk of infection; and grassroots groups and other nonprofits working to provide timely COVID-related information to marginalized populations.

PENNSYLVANIA

Richard King Mellon Foundation, Pittsburgh, PA | $200,000

The Richard King Mellon Foundation has awarded $200,000 to MasksOn.org to provide four thousand protective masks to Pittsburgh-area healthcare workers and first responders, the Pittsburgh Business Times reports. Designed by doctors with help from engineers from MIT and Google, the converted snorkeling masks will be provided to Allegheny County's seven Federally Qualified Health Centers, Excela Health and Bethlen Communities in Westmoreland County, and Westmoreland County firefighters.

VIRGINIA

Ivy Foundation, Charlottesville, VA | $2 million

The University of Virginia has announced a $2 million commitment from the Ivy Foundation in support of biomedical research focused on COVID-19. The Ivy Foundation COVID-19 Translational Research Fund will support research aimed at addressing diagnosis, treatment options, vaccine development, and healthcare worker protection needs.

________

"New Grant Awards Include COVID-19 Response Projects." Rasmuson Foundation Press Release 05/21/2020.

"Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Awards $700,000 to Support Mental Well-being of Educators, Students." Chan Zuckerberg Initiative press release 05/29/2020.

"UCLA receives $1 million for COVID-19 Rapid Response Initiative." University of California, Los Angeles press release 05/26/2020.

"Omidyar Network Announces Initial Grants from COVID-19 Economic Response Advocacy Fund." Omidyar Network Press Release 05/27/2020.

"#startsmall Tracker." #startsmall Excel Sheet 05/21/2020.

"$1M gift speeds COVID-19 testing and tracking at UC San Diego." University of California, San Diego press release 05/28/2020.

"Unrestricted operating support will help nonprofits weather the COVID-19 crisis." Weingart Foundation press release 05/28/2020.

"Weingart Foundation unrestricted operating support grant awards: May 2020." Weingart Foundation press release 05/28/2020.

"Vail Resorts CEO to Donate $11.7 Million from SARs Exercise; Announces Grants to Support COVID-19 Efforts, Racial Justice Reform and Youth Access." Vail Resorts press release 06/08/2020.

"Jeffco Hope Fund Round 2 Aims to Help Jeffco Nonprofits Stabilize During Pandemic." Community First Foundation Press Release 05/21/2020.

"Big Y, Antonacci Family Foundation aid Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, as coronavirus pandemic makes it tough for families to keep food on the table." MassLive.com 06/03/2020.

"Helios Education Foundation and Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities Launch Summer Completion Grant Initiative." Helios Education Foundation Press Release.

"BBF awards special funding to support BSU and Ivy Tech COVID efforts." Ball Brothers Foundation press release 05/27/2020.

"Foundations Adapt $1 Million Anti-Violence Fund for Communities Hardest Hit by Virus & Gun Violence." Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities Press Release 05/20/2020.

"COVID-19 antibody initiative receives $1.5 million to expand testing, launch 'virus radar'." University of Louisville press release 06/08/2020.

"Thanks to support, LEH awards more emergency relief grants." Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities press release 05/28/2020.

"Sam L. Cohen Foundation Commits $1 Million to Support COVID-19 Response and Recovery in Cumberland and York Counties." Sam. L. Cohen Foundation Press Release 05/11/2020.

"$4.2M in New Grants to Equip National Nonprofit Response to COVID-19 Pandemic." Kresge Foundation Press Release 05/14/2020.

"Investing $5.3 Million in the Health of Michigan Communities." Michigan Health Endowment Fund Press Release 05/18/2020.

"The Russell Berrie Foundation Announces $4.48 Million in Emergency Grants to Support COVID-19 Response Efforts in New Jersey and Israel." Russell Berrie Foundation Press Release 05/19/2020.

"Kessler Foundation Awards COVID-19 Emergency Grants to Grantees Serving People With Disabilities in New Jersey." Kessler Foundation Press Release 05/13/2020.

"William T. Grant and Spencer Foundations award rapid response research grants to combat youth inequality exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic." William T. Grant Foundation and Spencer Foundation press release 06/01/2020.

"Luce Foundation emergency grants support underserved communities in the US." Henry Luce Foundation press release 06/05/2020.

"Grants information." Henry Luce Foundation webpage 06/05/2020.

"Albert Einstein College of Medicine awarded $1 million challenge gift for COVID-19 research from the Price Family Foundation." Albert Einstein College of Medicine press release 06/02/2020.

"Solidarity and Support for Our Grantees." Surdna Foundation Press Release 05/13/2020.

"Bob Woodruff Foundation announces $1.9 million investment in spring grant recipients." Bob Woodruff Foundation press release 06/09/2020.

"2020 spring grants." Bob Woodruff Foundation webpage 06/09/2020.

"Kate B. Reynolds Charitable trust invests more than $2.7 million in immediate, flexible funding to respond to COVID-19 in North Carolina." Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust press release 06/01/2020.

"Richard King Mellon Foundation brings converted snorkeling masks to Pittsburgh health care workers." Pittsburgh Business Times 06/01/2020.

"Ivy Foundation commits $2 million for COVID-19 translational research fund." University of Virginia press release 05/26/2020.

Maintaining a consistent fundraising stream: lessons learned from COVID-19

June 01, 2020

Top_keyboard_red_donate_button_GettyImagesOver the last few months, the staff at Valleywise Health Foundation has witnessed astounding levels of empathy and generosity directed toward healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic in Maricopa County. Many nonprofits and public charities are hurting right now, so it's especially uplifting to see how charitable people can be in the face of hardship and uncertainty. Like many organizations, we continue to face challenges, but as we like to say around here, with challenges come opportunities.

During these unprecedented times, we've found three approaches to be critical to our ability to maintain a consistent funding stream and ensure continued support for healthcare workers in the Valleywise Health system: adapting critical programs to new formats; appealing to donors' sense of humanity; and utilizing new channels to reach donors and supporters. We believe all three approaches are something other philanthropic organizations can benefit from as they work to secure support for critical services that are likely to become even more essential in the weeks and months to come.

Adapt to a "new normal." Social distancing requirements are forcing the cancellation of public gatherings and events nationwide. This new reality is a challenge for nonprofits and foundations that rely on events to raise awareness of and funding for their programs. But instead of despairing over the cancellation of your gala fundraiser or summer meet-and-greet, try to think about it as an opportunity to pivot to something new. All it takes is a little flexibility, creativity, and patience.

Valleywise Health Foundation's "Night of Heroes" event — an annual fundraiser that celebrates "heroic" patient stories and recognizes Valleywise Health's doctors, nurses, and employees — was scheduled to take place on April 23, with Isabella McCune, a 10-year old who suffered second- and third-degree burns over 65 percent of her body in a 2018 accident but whose courageous spirit remains undimmed after more than a hundred surgeries and procedures, as our honoree. As it became clear, however, that we would not be able to hold an in-person event this year, we decided to convert the night into a virtual livestreamed event for invitees and others. The results exceeded our expectations, and we raised a record $225,000 — significantly more than last year's total — for the new Arizona Burn Center and COVID-19 emergency needs in the county. The online nature of the event also enabled us to reach a far larger audience of potential donors than our original venue would have accommodated, and our cost-per-dollar-raised fell to 24 cents, well below the national average of 50 cents for in-person events.

Make a human connection. In times like these, it's imperative that you continue to reach out to your donors and supporters. While the depths of a global pandemic may not seem like the best time to fundraise, many people are reflecting more than ever on what is truly important to them and looking for new ways to support their communities. In fact, this is a great time to tell them how their generosity can lift up their community and the causes they care about.

At Valleywise Health Foundation, we are communicating with our donors on a regular basis about the ways in which their support strengthens the efforts of local healthcare workers to provide the best possible care to all who need it. By making sure to include a touch of the personal in all the stories we share, we also make it clear to current and potential donors that their gifts are helping real people with real needs. Even if you're not making an ask today, you should be looking to show current and potential donors how important your organization's work is to the community and how critical their support for that work is.

Utilize new channels for reaching donors. With millions of Americans currently sheltering in place, social media has become an even more important fundraising and awareness-raising channel for nonprofits. At our foundation, we've also turned to various apps to help expand our capabilities. For instance, we used Fund Duel, a gamified online fundraising platform, to support our virtual "Night of Heroes." The app allowed us to collect and share donations in real time, reaching even more donors than we could have during an in-person event. Embracing new technologies and platforms can add a layer of complexity to your fundraising, but more often than not they will provide opportunities to reach even more people with your message.

While online tools and platforms can help you reach a bigger audience, keep in mind that the key to creating a deep connection with members of that audience is to keep your message local. In an emergency, people want to be assured that their support is helping their neighbors and community. In other words, when communicating through a variety of channels, keep the message focused on the impact your donors are helping to create.

It's important that philanthropic leaders remain patient and flexible during this public health emergency. There is a lot we don't know about this virus, and the entire world is trying to adapt to our new reality as quickly as it can. We're all in this together, and while we may be facing a new normal on the other side of it, we can take steps now to adapt, pivot, and make ourselves stronger and more resilient as a sector.

(Image credit: GettyImages)

Kevin_Neal_for_PhilanTopicKevin Neal serves as board chair for Valleywise Health Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) that supports Valleywise Health, a comprehensive healthcare system serving Arizona's Maricopa County. To view the Night of Heroes livestream, digital event program, and film premiere, visit www.valleywisehero.org.

Uniting to Protect and Empower Women Is Everyone's Responsibility

May 28, 2020

Top_domestic_violence_awareness_GettyImagesImagine cowering in fear from the person you once trusted more than any other. This is the reality for the one in three women globally who will be beaten, raped, or otherwise abused in their lifetimes. In the United States, domestic violence is one of the leading causes of death among women between the ages of 15 and 44, while an estimated 3.8 million people, most of them women and girls, are trafficked every year. 

At a time when gender equality has never been more important, turning a blind eye to violence against women is not an option. The systemic abuse of women, often at the intersection of color, class, and caste, is simply not acceptable. Unfortunately, the global COVID-19 pandemic has seen a surge of violence against women that has shelters in the United States, China, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Spain, India, the United Kingdom, Uganda, South Africa, and France reeling. Even more worrisome are areas of the world where hotlines are not ringing because women cannot get away to make the phone call that may save their lives or where services do not exist to help those most at risk.

In normal times, women are the ties that bind our communities together. But increased violence against them is fraying this social contract and threatening not only women's lives but community cohesiveness. At this critical moment, philanthropic leadership is essential to ensure that the safety and security of women, here in the U.S. and around the globe, are protected. 

Fourteen years ago, the NoVo Foundation stepped up to fill a gap in sustainable funding for organizations working to end violence against women, while at the same time modeling a new approach to women-focused philanthropy. Long before many of its peers followed suit, the foundation made flexible, multiyear gifts that were larger than most government grants and cleverly designed to unlock the promise of long-term change. In the years that followed, NoVo's leadership in the women's space had a huge impact in terms of breaking the silence around the scourge that is violence against women. It took a decade for the impact of that funding to become clear, but then countries such as Iraq and Sudan started to pass laws that criminalized domestic violence and practices like female genital mutilation. Justice had begun to raise its sleepy head. Indeed, inspired by the trust-based philanthropy modeled by the foundation, I made my first large commitment in this area. NoVo had changed the rules, and women around the world could not have been more grateful. 

Tragically, in May the foundation, in a letter posted on its website, announced that it had decided to scale back its extensive investment in organizations working to end violence against women. 

Women and women's organizations around the world were shocked and, a week later, are still reeling.

Historically, women and girls have largely been largely overlooked by donors, with only 1.6 percent of Americans' charitable giving directed their way. And the risk for women and girls will grow exponentially as women's unemployment hits double digits for the first time since the Great Recession and critical programs are dismantled due to lack of funds. 

At Women Moving Millions, we prioritize investment in women and girls because we know, and research has shown, that it is the most effective way to drive impact for everyone. We also recognize that we have a shared responsibility to ensure that communities which have borne the brunt of the pandemic have the resources they need to recover, and that the decisions we make today will impact what happens tomorrow — and for years to come. 

Trust-based investment in grassroots organizations led by women who are proximate to the issues rooted in gender discrimination is the only long-term, sustainable answer to centuries of patriarchy and white privilege. In the weeks and months ahead, philanthropy has an obligation to stay the course and even double down in support of women's groups at risk of losing their funding. 

Social change does not happen overnight. In this moment of uncertainty, opting out or scaling back is not an option. It is time for all of us to unite in shared purpose to protect women from violence and empower them as agents of change.

Mona_Sinha_for_PhilanTopicS. Mona Sinha is an advocate for gender equality in business and society and the board chair of Women Moving Millions, a community of women who look to fund "big and bold" ($1 million+) to create a gender-equal world. She is a member of the ERA Coalition, which seeks to include a constitutional amendment of equality on the basis of sex; is a trustee emerita of Smith College, where she served as vice chair of the board and led the Women for the World campaign; and serves on numerous educational and nonprofit boards.

The Forgotten Sector?

May 27, 2020

20180602_USP501All nonprofit organizations, large or small, have one thing in common — they exist to provide a public benefit. Although smaller nonprofits, defined provisionally as having five hundred employees or fewer, have been able to take advantage of government lending programs established in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak — the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Main Street Lending Program (MSLP) — larger nonprofits have not. This is a major and potentially catastrophic oversight.

This oversight reflects the government's tunnel-vision tendency to view the economy and threats to the economy primarily through the lens of for-profit entities — i.e., big and small businesses. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, but it is not just our balance sheets that are at risk during this crisis. The U.S. social safety net, already threadbare, is in danger of collapse. Nonprofit organizations, especially the larger ones, are the last line of defense for millions in the fight to keep themselves from falling into abject poverty, illness, and despair.

The U.S. nonprofit sector is large, with annual expenditures of $2.5 trillion dollars. It employs 12 million people, the third-largest workforce in the country, behind retail and manufacturing. In and of itself, it is a significant part of our economy. But in the government's zeal to protect the health of the business sector, the essential role played by the nonprofit sector in safeguarding the health and safety of our most vulnerable citizens has been ignored.

A just-released analysis of the sector's financial vulnerability — Main Street Lending 2.0: A Proposal to Support Our Most Vital Nonprofits — by SeaChange Capital Partners and based on data provided by Candid, characterizes the COVID-19 crisis as "an extinction-level event" for nonprofit organizations. In other words, not only are the vital services provided by the sector at risk of being lost, so are untold numbers of nonprofit sector jobs.

Large nonprofits are a vital component of the nation's social safety net. Social services nonprofits, in particular, are providing resources to meet the needs of struggling families, including  frontline healthcare workers, such as food assistance, housing, and emergency childcare. As the SeaChange report points out, "Large nonprofits tend to be particularly important in areas like residential care (e.g., homeless shelters, foster care, homes for the developmentally disabled, etc.) where smaller organizations do not have the capacity (technology, HR, finance, compliance, etc.) or the scale to do the work."

What's more, nonprofits that provide social services operate with very slim margins. This is true not just of small nonprofits but of large ones as well. Here are some key facts from the report:

  • In the U.S., 1,548 large nonprofits provide social services.
  • Those nonprofits have annual expenses of $121 billion and total revenues of $123 billion.
  • The median social services nonprofit: operates with a margin of just 1 percent; receives just 6 percent of its revenue from philanthropy; has total financial assets equivalent to 1.9 months of expenses; and has operating reserves of less than a month of expenses.

Again, these are the large social services nonprofits, those with five hundred or more employees. And, as the analysis makes clear, many of them operate on the brink of insolvency even in normal times.

The SeaChange report argues forcefully that the eligibility requirements of the PPP and MSLP need to be modified to accommodate the crisis-related needs of both large nonprofit organizations as well as smaller ones. "PPP is already available," the report's authors write

to for-profit groups with more than 500 employees, provided they meet two conditions: (i) net income of $5.0 million or less and (ii) tangible net worth of $15 million or less. Unfortunately, the [Small Business Administration] has indicated in some of its guidance that nonprofits are not eligible under these criteria. Nonprofit ineligibility makes zero sense. Why would otherwise eligible organizations established for public purposes be less worthy of PPP assistance than those established for private gain?

Where the rules of the PPP thoughtlessly exclude many nonprofit organizations while including for-profit organizations with the same financial characteristics, the Main Street Lending Program ignores nonprofit organizations altogether.

The Federal Reserve has stated that "while nonprofit organizations are not currently eligible under the MSLP program, we acknowledge the unique needs of nonprofit organizations, many of which are on the front lines providing critical services and research to fight the pandemic...and will be evaluating the feasibility of adjusting the borrower eligibility criteria and loan eligibility metrics of the program for such organizations."

How is it that the nonprofit sector finds itself in such an absurd situation?

The U.S. federal government is good at paying attention to some things, and less to others. It is massively concerned with the financial health of the business sector, especially large businesses, as primary drivers of the U.S. economy. It honors and understands the important role of small businesses, as demonstrated by the existence of the Small Business Administration.

Because the federal government cares about the health of business, it knows a lot about the business sector and collects massive amounts of data on the sector on a continuous basis. Indeed, it knows so much about "small businesses" that it has a comprehensive 49-page document listing the specific size requirements that businesses across more than a thousand North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) categories must meet in order to qualify as "small" and be eligible for assistance from the SBA.

There is no such set of standards for defining what constitutes a large or small nonprofit organization. And the job of amassing and organizing basic data on the organizational health of the nonprofit sector has been left to the sector itself. If not for organizations such as Candid, the Urban Institute's Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy, the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies, and a handful of others, such data would not be available at all.

All of this means that when legislative relief packages are being considered during times like these, our government has no systematic means at its disposal for assessing and responding to the financial needs of the U.S. nonprofit sector. Hence, the sector is treated as an afterthought, with resulting legislation that looks like the PPP and MSLP.

Although I've focused on social service nonprofits in this post, the SeaChange report discusses the economic challenges currently faced by all large U.S. nonprofits, including hospitals and health care, higher education, and arts and cultural organizations. It is MUST reading.

The COVID-19 crisis has stretched the capacity and resources of many nonprofit organizations to the breaking point. Without immediate attention to the financial challenges U.S. nonprofit organizations are facing, huge holes will be ripped in the nation’s social safety net, leading to catastrophic consequences for millions of U.S. citizens.

The government has largely outsourced the job of maintaining the social safety net to the nonprofit sector. But having outsourced much of this work, it has apparently forgotten that it still bears a fundamental responsibility to ensure that the basic survival needs of the nation’s most vulnerable populations are met. Every American requires and deserves at least a minimal level of protection from the fallout created by COVID-19.

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Headshot_Larry_McGillLarryLarry McGill is vice president of research at Candid. This post originally appeared on the Candid blog. For more from Larry, check out the PhilanTopic archive.

Corporations Ramp Up Support for COVID-19 Response Efforts (May 1-15, 2020)

May 24, 2020

SARS-CoV-2As COVID-19 spreads globally and in the United States, corporations and their foundations are stepping up with funding to meet the needs of individuals and vulnerable populations impacted by the virus. The  roundup below captures some of the corporate activity in response to COVID-19 over the last two weeks. (In many cases, larger gifts have been covered separately as part of PND's daily news feed.) Items are sorted in alpha order by company name.

For more coverage, check out PND's COVID-19 page and Candid's COVID-19 popup page.

The Akamai Foundation, a charitable fund endowed by Cambridge-based Akamai Technologies, has announced a $1.1 million commitment in support of global COVID-19 relief efforts. The commitment includes grants totaling nearly $500,000 to twenty-nine organizations providing medical care, support for health clinics, food assistance, and emergency child care in sixteen countries where Akamai employees live and work.

Amazon has announced a commitment of $3.9 million over three years through its Amazon Future Engineer program to CodeVA in support of that organization's efforts to provide computer science education and training to high-needs school in Virginia. Since the COVID-19 public health emergency began, the nonprofit has conducted live online code-along events, including free bi-weekly AP computer science exam prep sessions, and has developed unplugged computer science education resources for students lacking good Internet connectivity.

The Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation has announced grants totaling $260,000 to address food insecurity in Ohio communities. Grants include $135,000 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, $100,000 to Feeding America, $50,000 to the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, and $25,000 to the Children's Hunger Alliance. The foundation also announced commitments totaling more than $1.9 million to nonprofits serving communities and families elsewhere hit hard by COVID-19. Recipients include United Way's Statewide Coronavirus Recovery Program ($25,000), Virginia's Feeding America food banks ($125,000), the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education ($100,000), Boys & Girls Clubs of America ($135,000), and Senior Services of Southeast Virginia ($37,000).

The Avista Foundation in Spokane, Washington, has announced a second round of grants in support of COVID-19 relief efforts, including $129,000 to local United Way agencies and $100,000 to forty-five food pantries across the utility company's service area.

The Avon Foundation for Women has announced emergency grants totaling $1 million to help address the surge in domestic violence resulting from COVID-related shelter-in-place restrictions around the globe. Grants were awarded to fifty organizations in thirty-seven countries providing support for at-risk women and children, including Women's Aid (United Kingdom), the National Shelter Network (Mexico), and the Family Planning Association (India).

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation has awarded grants totaling more than $825,000 to forty community-based organizations providing healthcare, childcare, and other services for essential workers; emergency food shelf and delivery services for vulnerable populations; assistance for people facing economic insecurity, homelessness, or housing insecurity; and anti-xenophobia and anti-bias efforts related to COVID-19.

The Booz Allen Foundation has announced the launch of a $1 million Innovation Fund to support the development of creative solutions to the wide-ranging impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. The fund will award grants of up to $100,000 to help nonprofits, entrepreneurs, thought leaders, innovators at colleges and universities, and startups and small businesses harness the power of data, technology, and intellectual capital to improve COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts.

Cambia Health Foundation in Portland, Oregon, has announced a $3 million commitment in support of efforts to meet the needs of underserved communities and frontline providers while strengthening healthcare infrastructure in the region. The funding includes grants totaling $1 million to four community health associations — Oregon Primary Care Association, Washington Association for Community Health, Association for Utah Community Health, and Idaho Primary Care Association — that support the work of Federally Qualified Health Centers. Grants also were awarded to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and other organizations to provide tools, information, and training for faster COVID-19 symptom assessment and management, strengthen compassionate patient and family communications, and speed the adoption of telehealth services.

The Catalyst Housing Group has announced the launch of the Essential Housing Fund, which will focus its initial efforts on reducing rental housing costs for teachers in Marin County, California, where the local school district faces significant state budget cuts as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Seeded with a donation of $100,000 from Catalyst, the fund will help qualified teacher households secure discounted rents in a rental community Catalyst recently acquired in partnership with the California Community Housing Agency.

The First Responders Children's Foundation in New York City has announced a $1 million commitment from Cisco Systems in support of first responders working to address COVID-19 outbreaks across the United States. The gift will provide financial assistance to emergency medical technicians, firefighters, paramedics, police officers, dispatchers, and medical personnel treating COVID-19 patients, as well as college scholarships for the children of those who have died working on the front lines of the pandemic.

In the wake of COVID-related school closures, the Duke Energy Foundation has announced grants totaling $382,000 in support of K-12 education groups in Indiana focused on summer reading, STEM, and experiential learning programs.

Dunkin' Joy in Childhood Foundation has announced a $200,000 partnership with First Descents to launch an outdoor adventure program designed to help nurses and other healthcare professionals cope with traumatic stress stemming from their work on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. First Descents, which provides adventure-based healing experiences for young adults impacted by cancer and other serious health conditions, will create wellness programs aimed at nurturing supportive peer relationships for a thousand healthcare workers in cities hard hit by COVID-19, including Boston, Chicago, Detroit, and New York City.

Emergen-C, a health-beverage company, has announced a $500,000 grant to Americares in support of the organization's efforts to deliver much-needed protective supplies — masks, gowns, gloves, and disinfectants — and provide skill-building workshops and emotional support for frontline health workers.

Entergy Corporation has announced contributions totaling $1.3 million from shareholders to its COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund in support of United Way and other nonprofits working to assist customers and communities in Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, and Texas impacted by the virus. Grants awarded to date include $100,000 from Entergy Louisiana to help create the Fueling the Fight fund with the Baton Rouge Area Foundation; a donation of more than $385,000 from Entergy Mississippi to create the Mississippi Relief Fund, with funds to be shared by fifteen area nonprofits; and a $300,000 contribution from Entergy Texas to the Southeast Texas Relief Fund in support of nine nonprofits serving twenty-two counties.

Georgia Pacific's Angel Soft brand has pledged up to $2 million to the #GiveTogetherNow initiative, a rapid-response fund launched to provide direct cash assistance to families impacted by COVID-19. In addition to contributing $1 million to the fund, the brand will match up to $1 million in additional donations.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS has announced a $500,000 donation and an additional $500,000 dollar-for-dollar match from Gilead Sciences for all new donations to its Emergency Grants for Pandemic Relief initiative. The initiative also received $300,000 from the MAC Viva Glam Fund, $250,000 from ViiV Healthcare, and $100,000 from the P. Austin Family Foundation. The funds will enable Broadway Cares to provide grants to HIV/AIDS and service organizations across the country whose resources have been stretched by the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Hancock Whitney in Gulfport, Mississippi, has announced commitments totaling $2.5 million in support of vulnerable Gulf Coast communities impacted by COVID-19. Investments include $1 million for the restocking of local food pantries; $600,000 for the purchase of protective supplies for residents in low- to moderate-income communities as well as first responders; $800,000 in support of housing relief, including legal services for those fighting illegal eviction; and $100,000 for the Hancock Whitney Associate Assistance Fund.

Intercontinental Exchange has announced grants totaling $10 million in support of frontline responders in the thirty-five cities where it has offices. Grants were awarded to forty-one nonprofits, including Atlanta Partners for Education, Atlanta Community Food Bank, Boston Foundation, Greater Chicagoland Food Depository, National Emergencies Trust (United Kingdom), New York Community Trust, New York City Police Foundation, and Telangana CM Relief (India).

Intouch Group, a pharmaceuticals marketing solutions agency based in Overland Park, Kansas, has announced a donation of more than $100,000 to Heart to Heart International, an NGO focused on improving access to healthcare services. The funding will support the organization's efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19, enable it to provide infection prevention and control (IPC) training to nonprofits, and match Intouch employee donations toward the distribution of HHI hygiene kits, which include items such as gloves, cloth face coverings, and hand-sanitizing wipes.

Mary Kay has announced cash and product donations worth nearly $10 million in support of efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate its impacts on vulnerable populations. Efforts to assist frontline responders and others include the manufacture and donation of hand sanitizer to hospitals and healthcare systems, CARE, and other organizations; grants awarded through the Mary Kay Foundation to domestic violence shelters; and donations in support of efforts to secure COVID-19 tests, ventilators, and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Mastercard and the PepsiCo Foundation have announced the launch of Westchester Strong with Healthcare Heroes, a two-year, $1 million fund in support of White Plains Hospital staff working on the front lines of the public health emergency. Initially, the program will focus on funding the purchase of critical supplies such as personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as the hospital's efforts to meet government requirements to increase its capacity, before shifting to supporting the well-being of frontline staff.

Northern Trust has announced that it is providing $100 million in low-cost funding to assist community development financial institutions working to provide loans to small businesses and nonprofit organizations under the federal Paycheck Protection Program. The funding includes $50 million to the Self-Help Fund, $25 million to the National Development Council's CDFI Subsidiary Grow America Fund, and $10 million to immito, the SBA subsidiary of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation.

Northwestern Mutual has announced a gift of more than $200,000 through the Northwestern Mutual Foundation to Children's Wisconsin to help provide PPE as well as food relief and support. The donation includes $100,000 for replacement lenses for Controlled Air Purifying Respirators used by medical teams and more than $6,000 in meal gift cards for healthcare workers and inpatient families at the Children's Wisconsin MACC Fund Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. Northwestern Mutual also is partnering with the Milwaukee Ballet, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Florentine Opera, and First Stage, which have tasked their costume-making departments to sew masks, gowns, and face shields for hospital staff.

The Sozosei Foundation, a U.S.-based private foundation established by Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, has announced grants totaling $438,000 to four nonprofits providing support services to patients, healthcare workers, and families impacted by COVID-19. Recipients include the American Kidney Fund's Coronavirus Emergency Fund, which received $150,000 to provide financial assistance to low-income dialysis and post-transplant patients who are struggling to pay for essentials; the National Alliance on Mental Illness; Mental Health America; and Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and its foundation have announced contributions totaling $150,000 to nonprofits in northern and central California working to address food insecurity among vulnerable senior citizens during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Part of a $1 million commitment announced in March, the grants will support fifteen organizations, including Meals on Wheels.

The PepsiCo Foundation has announced a $50,000 contribution in support of the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina's 2020 Stop Summer Hunger Program. According to the foundation, the public health emergency has negatively affected access to food and other essentials in communities across the country, including twenty-two million students who received low-cost or free meals via the National School Lunch program before schools were closed. PepsiCo and its foundation previously announced commitments of more than $50 million to help provide meals for vulnerable populations impacted by COVID-19, PPE for healthcare workers, and testing and screening services.

Regions Foundation, an Alabama-based nonprofit initiative of Regions Bank, has announced grants totaling $260,000 as part of the bank and foundation's $5 million commitment to COVID-19 relief efforts. Ten nonprofits assisting small businesses impacted by the coronavirus, including Business and Community Lenders of Texas, Neighborhood Concepts, Inc. – North Alabama Revolving Loan Fund, and the Tennessee Small Business Development Center, will receive grants.

The St. Louis-based Reinsurance Group of America has announced that the RGA Foundation has awarded grants totaling $1.5 million in support of global COVID-19 relief efforts. Recipients include Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières, the SSM Health Foundation – St. Louis Urgent Response Fund, the American Red Cross, and the St. Louis Community Foundation's Gateway Resilience Fund and COVID-19 Regional Response Fund. The foundation also is matching employee donations to nonprofits helping those directly impacted by the pandemic.

Ross Stores and the Ross Stores Foundation have announced a joint commitment of $1.5 million in support of local and national nonprofits providing essential COVID-19 relief services, including educational resources for students, support services for families of first responders, and PPE for healthcare workers. Grant recipients include the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, First Book, and food banks in New York City and California.

SunCoast Credit Union in Tampa has announced a $1 million commitment — the largest in its eighty-six-year history — in support of relief efforts in the communities where it operates. To be awarded through the SunCoast Credit Union Foundation, the grants will support local nonprofits working in the areas of health care, food insecurity, and education.

Based in Toronto and Cherry Hill, New Jersey, TD Bank Group has announced an initial commitment of $25 million to the TD Community Resilience Initiative. The commitment includes a pledge of $13 million to help meet the immediate, short-term needs of current TD grantees; community initiatives designed to support individuals' financial security, including income stability and affordable housing; and $2 million in support of frontline healthcare workers and community health centers in Canada. Another $2 million will fund a matching- employee-donation program for COVID-19 relief efforts, while $10 million awarded through the bank's annual grantmaking program will support innovative recovery efforts.

United Way of Metropolitan Dallas has announced a $5 million contribution from the Texas Instruments Foundation in support of COVID-19 relief, recovery, and rebuilding efforts in North Texas. The gift brings to over $11.6 million the total United Way Metropolitan Dallas has raised to address immediate and long-term needs in the areas of education, income security, and health outcomes — $2.9 million of which was awarded to more than two hundred community-based organizations.

Small business software maker Thryv has announced a third round of grants through its foundation's Small Business COVID-19 Grant Program. Grants of between $2,500 and $15,000 were awarded to small businesses struggling to survive in the face of the public health emergency, including Girl Contracting (Philadelphia), Kathy Mays Lakeview Café (Huntington Beach, California), and Taylor's Tacos (Chicago).

The farmer-owners of Tillamook County Creamery Association in Oregon have announced a $4 million relief plan to help employees, communities, and industry partners respond to and recover from the impacts of COVID-19. As part of the effort, the company will significantly increase its direct-to-community product donations and grants in support of nonprofits and community organizations. Grant recipients include the Oregon Food Bank ($200,000), the Oregon Community Foundation ($100,000), Tillamook County Action Resource Enterprises, Inc. ($20,000), the Tillamook County Wellness program ($15,000), the Tillamook Early Learning Center ($10,000), and the Oregon State University Foundation ($5,000).

And the United Health Foundation has announced a $500,000 grant to University of Chicago Medicine in support of expanded COVID-19 testing in underserved communities. Part of the foundation's $70 million commitment to address the impacts of COVID-19, the grant will be used by UChicago Medicine and South Side Healthcare Collaborative clinics and community hospitals to test up to a thousand residents a day on the South Side, one of the hardest-hit areas in the city, and provide personal protective equipment and contact tracing training for clinical staff.

Verizon has announced a $2.5 million grant to the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to assist small business owners impacted by the coronavirus. In the third round of funding awarded through LISC's Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund, two hundred and twenty-five small business owners across the United States received grants of $10,000 to help them cover wages, rent, and other immediate operational costs. With its latest donation, Verizon has given a total of $7.5 million to the fund. The company also announced a $1 million donation to the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund in support of efforts to organize and coordinate resources aimed at mitigating the medical, social, and economic impacts of COVID-19 on the state's most vulnerable communities.

The Visa Foundation has announced grants totaling $8.8 million in support of global COVID-19 relief efforts from a $10 million fund announced in April, including $1 million for hunger relief in the United States and Canada. Recipients include the American Red Cross, the Asia Foundation, Children's Aid, Direct Relief, Feeding America, Food Banks Canada, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, and UNICEF.

And Phoenix-based Western Alliance Bank has committed $2 million to address the impacts of COVID-19 in communities where it operates and strengthen their resilience to future disasters. The funds will address shortages of PPE for first responders, food insecurity, and tech-related online learning needs, as well as provide support for small businesses, pediatric care, and the most vulnerable populations in the region

________

"Akamai Foundation Announces Global COVID-19 Charitable Giving." Akamai Foundation Press Release 05/06/2020.

"Amazon Donates $3.9 Million to CodeVA to Expand Computer Science Education for 500,000 Students and Training for 12,000 Teachers." Amazon Press Release 04/28/2020.

"Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation Directs $260,000 to Address Ohio Food Insecurity in Response to COVID-19." Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation Press Release 04/30/2020.

"Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation Commits $1.9 Million to Virginia Charities as Part of Coordinated Response to COVID-19." Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation Press Release 01/18/2038.

"Avista Foundation Provides Funding to Area Food Banks and United Way." Avista Foundation Press Release 04/27/2020.

"The Avon Foundation for Women Issues $1 Million to Frontline Domestic Abuse Services." Avon Foundation for Women Press Release 05/05/2020.

"Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation Contributes $1.1 Million to Support Communities During Covid-19 Pandemic." Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation Press Release 04/29/2020.

"Booz Allen Foundation Launches $1M Innovation Fund to Support COVID-19 Solutions." Booz Allen Foundation Press Release 04/30/2020.

"Cambia Health Foundation Commits $3 Million To Address COVID-19 Immediate Impacts." Cambia Health Foundation Press Release 05/05/2020.

"Catalyst Housing Group Launches Nonprofit Housing Fund Targeting Marin County Teachers." Catalyst Housing Group Press Release 05/05/2020.

"First Responders Children’s Foundation Receives $1 Million From Cisco Systems to Support Financial Grants for First Responders on the Front Lines." First Responders Children's Foundation Press Release 05/05/2020.

"Duke Energy Foundation Provides Funds to Indiana K-12 Education Organizations During COVID-19 Crisis." Duke Energy Foundation Press Release 04/29/2020.

"Dunkin' Joy in Childhood Foundation and First Descents Launch First-of-its-Kind Program Supporting Healthcare Professionals With Traumatic Stress from COVID-19." Dunkin' Joy in Childhood Foundation Press Release 05/05/2020.

"Emergen-C® Looks Toward a Time When We Can “Emerge Our Best” and Supports Health Workers in Need With New Campaign." Emergen-C Press Release 04/30/2020.

"Entergy Commits US$1.3 Million for COVID-19 Relief." Entergy Press Release 04/23/2020.

"Angel Soft® Rolls Out Partnership with #GiveTogetherNow to Help Families Impacted by COVID-19." Georgia Pacific Press Release 05/04/2020.

"The Angel Soft® Brand Pledges Up to $2 Million to #GiveTogetherNow Initiative Providing Direct Financial Relief to Families Impacted by COVID-19." Georgia Pacific Press Release 05/04/2020.

"Emergency Grants for Pandemic Relief to Support HIV/AIDS and Service Organizations." Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Press Release 05/06/2020.

"Hancock Whitney Pledges $2.5 Million Investment in COVID-19 Community Relief." Hancock Whitney Press Release 04/29/2020.

"Intercontinental Exchange Commits $10 Million to Support COVID-19 Response Efforts Around the World." Intercontinental Exchange Press Release 04/29/2020.

"Intouch Group Announces Anti-COVID-19 Partnership with Nonprofit Heart to Heart International." Intouch Group Press Release 05/06/2020.

"Mary Kay Inc. Commits Nearly $10 Million to Global COVID-19 Support." Mary Kay Press Release 04/29/2020.

"'Westchester Strong with Healthcare Heroes' Strengthens Local COVID-19 Response and Recovery." Mastercard and PepsiCo Press Release 05/04/2020.

"Northern Trust Provides $100 million in Small Business Support." Northern Trust Corporation Press Release 05/11/2020.

"Northwestern Mutual Commits More Than $200,000 to Children's Wisconsin for COVID-19 Relief." Northwestern Mutual Press Release 04/30/2020.

"Sozosei Foundation Announces Donations of $439,000 to Support Those With Mental Health and Kidney Diseases." Sozosei Foundation Press Release 04/23/2020.

"Sozosei Foundation Donates $150,000 to American Kidney Fund Coronavirus Emergency Fund for Low-Income Dialysis and Transplant Patients." American Kidney Fund Press Release 04/27/2020.

"The PepsiCo Foundation Announces Grant to North Carolina Food Bank." PepsiCo Press Release 05/06/2020.

"PG&E and The PG&E Corporation Foundation Contribute $150,000 to Organizations Providing Meals for Vulnerable Seniors During COVID-19." PG&E Press Release 04/28/2020.

"Regions Foundation Announces Additional Grants for CDFIs and Community Organizations Supporting Small Businesses." Regions Foundation Press Release 05/11/2020.

"RGA Foundation Commits $1.5 Million to Support COVID-19 Response." Reinsurance Group of America Press Release 04/30/2020.

"Ross Stores Donates $1,500,000 to COVID-19 Relief Efforts." Ross Stores Press Release 04/24/2020.

"SunCoast Credit Union Supports Coronavirus Relief Efforts With $1 Million Contribution." SunCoast Credit Union Press Release 05/04/2020.

"The TD Community Resilience Initiative Allocates $25 Million to Organizations Engaged In COVID-19 Response and Community Recovery." TD Bank Group Press Release 04/29/2020.

"Texas Instruments Foundation Donates $5 Million to United Way of Metropolitan Dallas." United Way of Metropolitan Dallas Press Release 05/04/2020.

"Thryv Small Business Foundation Wires Third Round of Grant Money to Recipients of Its Small Business COVID-19 Grant Program." Thryv Press Release 05/04/2020.

"Thryv Foundation Delivers Third Round of Grants For Businesses in Need." Thryv Blog Post 05/04/2020.

"Extraordinary Challenges Require Extraordinary Responses." Tillamook County Creamery Association Press Release 05/08/2020.

"United Health Foundation Donates $500,000 to University of Chicago Medicine to Support Expanded COVID-19 Testing in Underserved Communities." United Health Foundation Press Release 04/28/2020.

"'Light at the End of the Tunnel': LISC & Verizon Announce First Recipients of Small Business Grants." Local Initiatives Support Corporation Press Release 04/30/2020.

"Verizon Expands COVID-19 Small Business Support Up to $7.5M With New Grant to LISC." Verizon Press Release 04/30/2020.

"Verizon Donates $1 Million to New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund." Verizon Press Release 05/08/2020.

"The Visa Foundation Announces Grantees to Support COVID-19 Recovery in U.S. and Canada." Visa Foundation Press Release 05/12/2020.

"The Visa Foundation Commits to COVID-19 Recovery." Visa Foundation Press Release 05/12/2020.

"Western Alliance Bank Announces $2 Million Donation to Strengthen, Protect Communities Impacted by COVID-19." Western Alliance Bank Press Release 05/11/2020.

Support Children and Youth to Prevent the Next Pandemic

May 21, 2020

GettyImages-518275278-1600x1068As doctors and nurses struggle to cope with the impacts of SARS-CoV-2, scientists are racing to develop a vaccine that will stop the virus in its tracks and prevent further harm to people's health and livelihoods. Their efforts are a striking testament to the power of education. In this moment of crisis, our collective well-being depends on our ability to outsmart the virus.

I was struck by the central role played by education in this global public health emergency while speaking earlier this spring with children and youth in Florida and in Debre Tabor and Debre Markos, in Ethiopia. Although the kids I spoke to live in markedly different societies, the threat posed by the coronavirus and its impact on their education are something they all have in common.

Indeed, their future depends on the virus not only being defeated but on the global community making sure it has the tools it needs to prevent the next pandemic. And that means we must invest in the education that children, all over the world, need and so desperately desire.

Seeing the Children

Early on in this pandemic, I started to worry that the concerns of children and youth — who, even in the best of times, often are unseen — might fade into invisibility as the world focused its attention elsewhere. But while the United Nations and World Health Organization both have said that children are less likely to contract COVID-19 than their parents or grandparents, their education, nutrition, safety, and health increasingly are being put at risk by the crisis.

In Ethiopia, I spoke with sixteen-year-old Abeba, who has dreams of being a doctor, and eighteen-year-old Fassil, who has not let blindness deter him from pursuing his dream of becoming a lawyer. Naturally, COVID-19 is uppermost in their minds, not least because their schools have been closed for the rest of the year. When I asked them what made them feel safe and happy, both mentioned learning and school, and both told me that they viewed their teachers as an important part of their support system. Abeba is lucky to have a family to lean on, although her mother's small restaurant has been closed by the pandemic, leaving the family in a precarious financial situation. Fassil lives alone, and without school to go to he is increasingly isolated. Although the Ethiopian government has promised to disseminate primary and secondary school instruction via radio and television, many households in Ethiopia, including Fassil’s, do not have access to either. For now, Abeba's and Fassil's lives are on hold.

This is a global problem. According to UNESCO, a hundred and ninety-one countries have implemented nationwide school closures, and several other countries — including the United States — have localized closures. Globally, 90 percent of students — 1.58 billion learners — are today out of school because of the pandemic. As the lockdowns continue, concerns about the educational progress of this generation are mounting. "How can we make up for the loss of learning?" Abeba's mother asked during our call.

In Florida, I spoke with Lesley, an articulate and ambitious fourteen-year-old. She learned quite a lot about COVID-19 in school and worries about its impact on her community. While she is participating in her school's distance-learning efforts, she misses in-person classes and being able to see her friends every day. Lesley lives in the SOS Children's Village in Florida, and what I found most heartening about our conversation was her appreciation for the SOS foster family that supports her and gives her the strength to persevere during this uncertain and anxious time. Looking back on these conversation, I am moved by how tightly education and family are linked in the words and experiences of these teenagers, who lead very different lives, half a world apart.

Looking Beyond COVID-19

In listening to these young people talk about their lives, I also was struck by how far we have progressed, as a global society, over the last few decades. The UN Millennial Development Goals, developed in 2000, once seemed utopian, but advances in standards of living, literacy, and other measures associated with those goals are today widely taken for granted. Primary-school enrollment in the developing world, for instance, has risen to 91 percent. Vulnerable children like Abeba, Fassil, and Lesley increasingly are receiving the education and support they need to become professionals and have a positive impact on their communities and the wider world around them.

Looking at all the progress we've made, I know this: we cannot afford to go backward.

But with the International Monetary Fund forecasting a 3 percent decline in global growth for the year ahead — a decline that would rival any see during the worst years of the Great Depression — and with schools shuttered for the foreseeable future, will our progress be derailed? In the U.S., one study found that it took two entire years for students in New Orleans impacted by Hurricane Katrina to fully recover their lost learning.

If support for education and families is cut back during this crisis, we will forfeit the intellectual capital needed to ensure that any recovery from the crisis is sustainable — capital that also underpins our ability to anticipate and prevent future pandemics.

As we struggle to contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2, we need to simultaneously address pressing needs that existed pre-pandemic and lay the groundwork for the post-pandemic world that will emerge from crisis. That means making smart investments in the world's children and youth so that they can contribute fully to the resilience, adaptability, and future flourishing of their communities.

More concretely, it means:

  • Providing more and better preventive care for families and keeping children safe, healthy, educated, and fed.
  • Making sure that all children and youth are able to continue their education, whether through remote learning or other locally appropriate solutions, while schools are closed.
  • Delivering skills training opportunities for youth that prepare them to be self-sufficient as local economies restart.

It is too early to say what the social, economic, and psychological damage caused by this pandemic will be. What we do know is that children and youth are integral to a full recovery from this once-in-a-century crisis, and that the knowledge, skills, and fortitude they develop over the next year or three will serve them well when, as adults, they will be the ones expected to mount an effective response to the next pandemic.

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Headshot_neil_ghoshNeil Ghosh (@neilghosh4) is president and chief executive officer of SOS Children’s Villages USA and founder of the Global Youth Initiative and SNV USA. An advocate of disruptive integration, Ghosh spends much of his time focused on advancing nimble cross-sectoral collaboration in support of sustainable development.

Quote of the Week

  • "[L]et me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance...."


    — Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States

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