526 posts categorized "International Affairs/Development"

What COVID-19 has taught us about the humanitarian system and women's rights organizations

June 02, 2021

CFTA_feminist_humanitarian_networkWhen the COVID-19 pandemic struck — and with it came public health measures including stay-at-home orders — women's rights organizations (WROs) the world over were quick to sound the alarm: Gender-based violence (GBV) would increase. Women and "marginalized" groups would be disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and the inequality they already face would deepen. The gendered impacts of crises are well documented, and COVID-19 would be no different.

WROs acted swiftly to address those issues, working to strengthen community-based mechanisms to ensure that women could report GBV and expect a response. Organizations adapted their systems and approaches to ensure that women could continue to access critical services during lockdowns, including psycho-social support, maternal and newborn child health care, and sexual and reproductive health services. WROs also advocated for recognition of the impacts of the crisis on women's rights and called for funding to be targeted to mitigating those impacts.

While responding to the pandemic and its fallout, WRO members of the Feminist Humanitarian Network (FHN), a collective of women leaders working together to transform the humanitarian system into one that is guided by feminist principles, saw an opportunity: Here was a moment to document the essential role WROs play in humanitarian action, to capture the work that they do, any time an emergency occurs, to ensure that women and "marginalized" groups aren't left out of relief efforts.

FHN member organizations — of which 70 percent are WROs working in the Global South and 30 percent are international non-government organizations (INGOs) and organizations based in the Global North — are working to achieve a global humanitarian system that is responsive, accountable, and accessible to women and the diverse organizations that serve them, and that challenges rather than perpetuates structural inequalities. A pervasive lack of recognition of WROs as humanitarian actors and leaders is just one of a number of critical issues that FHN is working to change.

The current humanitarian system and the actors it is comprised of (governments, United Nations agencies, INGOs, and national actors) systematically exclude women and their organizations from all phases of humanitarian action, from funding to decision making. WROs are rarely invited to contribute to national planning processes for humanitarian response or to sit on emergency committees. When a funding call is made, WROs rarely receive the information, and when they do, rarely succeed in their grant applications.

Needless to say, the impacts of this exclusion are enormous. Women's needs — and indeed, the needs of "marginalized" groups, such as people with disabilities, refugees, and the LGBTIQA community — go unaddressed as a result. WROs and women-led organizations, which often represent diverse groups of women and their communities, are uniquely positioned to highlight the needs of those they work with and ensure that they are addressed. When the leadership role of those organizations is undermined, basic requirements like including sanitary supplies in relief distributions and ensuring that distribution sites are accessible to people with disabilities are overlooked.

In addition to presenting an opportunity to showcase the role that WROs working at grassroots, local, and national levels play on the frontlines of humanitarian action, COVID-19 offered a snapshot of the global humanitarian system — how the current system works and the challenges it presents for WROs in the Global South — the patriarchal and colonial practices embedded in the system that are at the root of the lack of recognition, lack of access to resources, and exclusion that WROs experience.

And so FHN members in Bangladesh, Kenya, Lebanon, Liberia, Nepal, Nigeria, Palestine, and South Africa – conducted research to document their own humanitarian leadership, and that of their peers in the response to the pandemic. Their findings have been published in a series of national reports and a global report entitled Women's Humanitarian Voices: Covid-19 through a feminist lens. The reports highlight multiple critical barriers presented by the humanitarian system that undermine the leadership of WROs, and describe not only their ability to respond to crises but their long-term sustainability as essential women's rights actors working to protect and advance women's rights.

In six of the eight studies, WROs were unable to access donor funding, in large part as a result of excessive due diligence requirements that these organizations, working around the clock to respond to the emergency with limited resources, were (particularly in times of crisis) unable to fill. Instead, WROs undertaking critical work — ensuring that women with disabilities were able to meet basic needs throughout the crisis, for example — funded their efforts with their leaders' personal resources or funds contributed by the community. At the same time, women and their organizations were excluded from decision-making processes — left out of planning undertaken by international and national actors and from emergency response committees at all levels.

And yet those organizations persevered, working collectively in the "spirit of sisterhood" to challenge injustice, demand that their voices be heard, and work to influence the response efforts — and ensure that women's needs were addressed in each context. WROs continue to take action so that women are not left behind in the COVID-19 response and women's rights are advanced through humanitarian action.

For many of us working in the humanitarian sector, the pandemic has re-emphasized much of what we already knew: Emergencies exacerbate gender injustice, in part because the humanitarian system reinforces existing patriarchal social structures by excluding women from funding and decision making. Women's Humanitarian Voices: Covid-19 through a feminist lens has captured the creativity, resourcefulness, and deep feminist approaches of WROs in the Global South and has presented a powerful argument for why that system must change.

To be part of that change and to create a system that is inclusive of all and creates sustainable, transformative change, humanitarian actors across the system must immediately increase support for organizations advancing women's rights, in the form of direct, long-term, flexible funding. They must recognize their expertise and follow their leadership. A feminist humanitarian system is not only possible; it is critically needed and requires every humanitarian actor — including, importantly, donors — to take action.

Holly_Miller_Naomi_Tulay_Solanke_PhilanTopicHolly Miller is lead at the Feminist Humanitarian Network, a global collective of women leaders working together to achieve a humanitarian system that is guided by feminist principles. Naomi Tulay-Solanke is executive director of Community Healthcare Initiative and a member of the Feminist Humanitarian Network Steering Committee.

What COVID-19 has taught us about investing in public health

March 12, 2021

2020_May_Ho Chi Minh City_screening_Operation_SmileCOVID-19 continues to pose novel challenges to health systems around the world. With the rapid depletion of stockpiles of personal protective equipment (PPE) and severe shortages of physical space in which to care for those affected by this perplexing and terrible disease, even well-resourced surgical health systems have been pushed to the brink of their capacity.

But in many low- and middle-income countries, the virus that emerged in late 2019 has exacerbated a problem that remains anything but novel in 2021. In places that lack the infrastructure, funding, and healthcare workforce able to cope with the pre-pandemic needs of its citizens, COVID-19 has further limited the ability of public health systems to provide essential surgical care to people who need it.

A study published in the British Journal of Surgery estimates that over a twelve-week period during the initial surge of COVID cases last spring, hospitals in low- and middle-income countries were forced to cancel more than 15.5 million surgical procedures as they prioritized patients infected with the virus. The ripple effect caused by these cancellations has had costly consequences in terms of avoidable human suffering. People who need surgery for trauma, cancer, burns, or congenital conditions such as cleft lip and cleft palate have been forced to wait and grapple with the debilitating effects of their conditions. Lives have been lost.

On a personal level, the coronavirus pandemic has brought back memories of my experience in Liberia leading Africare's response to the 2014-15 Ebola epidemic. During that emergency, all essential and emergency public health services were suspended as the healthcare system struggled to respond to the surge in Ebola cases. As a result of insufficient investment over many years, the country was ill prepared to address the highly infectious nature of the disease, and its response was further weakened by the dearth of critical medical equipment, testing and diagnostic capabilities, healthcare workers with the training needed to respond to the disease, and adequate PPE.

We see many of the same factors at work today, with predictable results, including an erosion of trust and confidence in health workers' capacity to provide adequate care and in patients' ability to receive care without risking their lives. As reported in a Journal of Public Health paper, patients in need of surgery are not seeking care for fear of contracting COVID while in hospital or a clinic. And this is in addition to preexisting structural, financial, and socioeconomic barriers that prevent tens of millions of people from accessing safe surgery.

We must and can do better.

If we are to care for the countless number of people in need of surgery while remaining responsive and resilient when faced with outbreaks of diseases such as COVID-19, the global health and international development communities must step up their capacity-building investments in both surgical ecosystems and public health systems.

Early on in the pandemic, Operation Smile made the difficult decision to put all its medical programs on pause. We knew hospitals and frontline health workers would soon be overwhelmed by an influx of desperately sick patients and that we needed to protect the people who turn to us for help, their families, and our staff and volunteers by suspending international travel indefinitely.

These measures resulted in surgery and dental care being delayed for thousands of Operation Smile patients. At the same time, we decided to increase our investment in public health systems in the countries where we work, both in response to the virus and to improve the quality of locally available care after the pandemic was over. To that end, we leveraged our longstanding relationships with various ministries of health and NGO partners to procure and donate PPE, respiratory equipment, COVID-19 test kits, and food and hygiene supplies to hospitals and communities hard hit by the virus.

What has been especially impressive about the global surgery community's response to COVID-19, however, has been its unity. Despite all the challenges posed by international travel restrictions, NGOs have turned to one another for help in overcoming their logistics and implementation hurdles. We experienced this firsthand in our work with organizations like the World Children Initiative, African Medical and Research Foundation, Kids Operating Room, Lifebox, and Medical Aid International, all of which have been instrumental in helping us procure and distribute PPE and medical supplies and equipment across Africa.

And the response extends beyond physical donations. Academic institutions, surgical societies, NGOs, and corporations have also come together to provide virtual training and education opportunities to frontline healthcare providers in resource-constrained settings. Operation Smile today partners with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, the College of Surgeons of East Central and Southern Africa, and ministries of health in a number of countries to help thousands of health workers upgrade their skills and address the unique challenges they face.

At the end of the day, investments in public health systems help build confidence among patients, who can see that they will receive care that is safe and effective, as well as health workers, who are empowered with the knowledge, supplies, and skills they need to deliver relevant care safely and in a timely fashion. Indeed, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recently affirmed that the time for such investments is now: "Public health is more than medicine and science and it is bigger than any individual and there is hope that if we invest in health systems…we can bring this virus under control and go forward together to tackle other challenges of our times."

In the same essay, however, Tedros warned that the response to COVID-19 is not enough to "address the global under-investment in essential public health functions and resilient health systems, nor the urgent need for a 'One Health' approach that encompasses the health of humans, animals, and the planet we share. There is no vaccine for poverty, hunger, climate change or inequality."

At Operation Smile, we've learned that the time is always right to invest in systems with the aim of making them more resilient and responsive to the needs of the people they are intended to serve. But only a global response will yield the kind of impact we desperately need to stop COVID in its tracks and end the pandemic.

As the old saying goes, "to whom much is given much is required." Today, more than ever, global health stakeholders and international development actors must step up and provide the financial and human capital needed to build public health systems that can respond to emerging health needs efficiently and effectively. There's a not a moment to waste.

(Photo credit: Operation Smile)

Ernest Gaie_operation_smile_philantopicErnest Gaie serves as senior advisor for global business operations at Operation Smile.

Philanthropy is contributing billions to Indian development, but who is counting?

March 02, 2021

Philanthropy_in_india_croppedIt is an exciting time for philanthropy in India, especially institutional philanthropy. The sector has come a long way since 1892, when the Tata group established one of the first philanthropic trusts in the country, the JN Tata Endowment. More recently, a number of Indian billionaires have joined the Giving Pledge started by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates, and a significant number of high-net-worth Indian entrepreneurs have made significant commitments in support of Indian development.

Thanks in part to a booming Indian economy, another significant trend is the emergence of giving by India's growing middle class. According to some estimates, the Indian economy has created millions of new donors in the last decade. And while many of these donors do their giving through traditional informal channels, a large number have started to adopt more innovative mechanisms for their giving. Retail giving — crowdsourced philanthropic funds from ordinary Indians — is becoming increasingly popular and is helping to support some of the largest NGOs  in the country. Corporations also are playing an increasingly important role in supporting the Indian NGO sector. In fact, India is the first country in the world to make corporate giving mandatory, and total spending by Indian companies has increased steadily since the law came into effect, with spending by the top hundred Indian companies exceeding $3 billion over the last several years.

Taking all these sources together, philanthropy today is one of the largest players in the mix of development actors at work in India. But who is counting its contributions?

It's tempting to think the Indian philanthropic sector is the most data savvy in the world. After all, Indian data and software engineers and programmers compete and innovate at the highest levels. But the country's philanthropic sector suffers from an acute lack of data availability and transparency. Often contained in their own bubbles, India's philanthropic actors typically do not know who is doing what and where, who is contributing how much to which causes and organizations, and where their money could have the most impact in terms of complementing government actions. Similarly, international foundations that fund or want to fund programs in India often are only able to see a partial picture of the philanthropic landscape. The lack of philanthropic data results in inefficiency, redundancy, and lost opportunities for collaboration within the Indian development sector and with other development actors outside the sector. As a result, millions of Indians remain beyond the reach of the benefits that philanthropy can bring.

One might think the overall lack of data on Indian philanthropy isn't a problem when it comes to grants made by international foundations, since under India's Foreign Contribution Regulations Act (FCRA) grants made by international foundations to Indian NGOs must be reported through the government's publicly accessible portal. Unfortunately, because of the lack of a data standard, the lion's share of that data is largely unusable. To make FCRA data useful, one must go through a thorny, time-consuming, and expensive data-massaging process. And even then, a large portion of the data remains hopelessly inadequate for any useful analysis.

Although corporate philanthropy, one of the biggest sources of Indian philanthropy data, clears the bar established by FCRA, it falls short in terms of its usefulness for answering critical questions. The very general project descriptions and broad categorizations provided by most Indian CSR operations fail to provide important details that are essential for improving the efficiency of the Indian development sector — for example: Where and how has the money has been spent? Was the recipient an NGO or another type of organization? What thematic area and geographic location do the recipients operate in? Does the corporation run its own programs or does it outsource them?

So what can we do to address the problem? For starters, we could collect all the data available from multiple sources, clean it up, index it using a common standard and taxonomy, analyze it, and then make it available to all for free on a data visualization platform. And that's precisely what Candid has done with the Philanthropy in India portal. The portal includes grants made by both Indian foundations and international foundations, high net-worth individuals, corporations, charities, and official donors. What's more, we've analyzed the grants data in an effort to answer some of the fundamental questions people have about Indian philanthropy, such as who is doing what and where, what problems and issues are getting funded, and where gaps exist.

Dashboard Philanthropy in India

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Left: distribution of funding by subject focus; right: geographic focus and density of funding.

 

The funding map section of the portal provides access to disaggregated grants data so that philanthropic actors can have a better understanding of how their dollars can have greater impact while helping to minimize redundancy and encourage collaboration between different organizations. The portal also provides access to knowledge created by and for the sector as well as the latest updates from the world of Indian philanthropy. In short, Philanthropy in India is a one-of-a-kind tool that addresses some of the data challenges that have slowed the progress of the Indian philanthropic sector.

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Of course, the portal has limitations, many of which are directly related to the availability and quality of the data we are able to collect. For example, we have very little data on grants made by Indian foundations, while the number of grants reported in a year can vary widely. As a result, we are unable to run many of the analyses we normally run on grants data, including important trend analyses. In other words, the portal is as good as the data put into it. But as more and better quality data becomes available, the more useful it will be for philanthropic actors in India as well as donors outside India who interested in supporting the Indian NGO sector. That's why we are encouraging all philanthropic actors in India to share their data with us. Not only because sharing data will improve the usefulness of the portal for them, but also because it will help the NGO sector in India become a better version of itself.

Headshot_Arif_Ekram_PhilanTopicArif Ekram is a manager of Global Partnerships at Candid.

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that local organizations are our best bet in fighting hunger

February 04, 2021

Global foos insecurityFive years ago, less than 2 percent of funds for humanitarian causes went directly to local and national NGOs, despite the incredible efficiency of these organizations in delivering impactful work at times of great need. Progress has been made — indeed, in 2020, a little more than 21 percent of funds were given to these organizations. But if 2020 has taught us anything, it is that investing more in local NGOs is crucial to achieving success, especially in the effort to eradicate hunger.

Currently, two billion people do not have regular access to safe and nutritious food. My organization, The Global FoodBanking Network, supports and empowers national and local food banks in more than forty countries by equipping partners with solutions, capabilities, and funds that accelerate food assistance. In 2020 alone, we saw more than 27 million people in forty-four countries — most of which are in emerging or developing economies — rely on food banks within our network during the pandemic. This represents a 63 percent increase from the previous year.

The reliance makes sense: food banks are led by local civic leaders who are embedded in their communities and can uniquely respond to their community's needs.

Time and time again, I've seen food banks play an integral part in building resilient food systems and strengthening the communities where they are based. I have seen them nourish children through innovative school feeding programs, contribute to families' diverse diets by sourcing and offering nutritious food, and engage local farmers, businesses, and government in their work to alleviate hunger. These local organizations offer programming that not only provides their neighbors with meals but also with job training, childcare, education, and health interventions, extending their impact and helping build a sustainable future.

As we begin to look toward a future beyond COVID-19, a future that will still be rife with other problems, especially hunger, we must determine how we can better offer solutions. I believe we should start by investing in local organizations, which are often the first to respond at a time of crisis and the last to leave as the crisis subsides, continuing to provide much-needed aid to those who need it. Building local organizations means strengthening communities, building resilience, and increasing self-sufficiency.

With more support, local organizations can continue to ramp up their services while coping with the increase in demand for food and a drop in product donations due to disruptions in regional supply chains. If given the resources, they can grow their capacity to reach their neighbors in need more quickly over the long term.

On the frontline of disaster relief

Local hunger organizations are often the first to respond when disasters strike. They have unparalleled insight into the needs of the populations they serve and are able to  quickly mobilize resources to provide aid where it's needed most.

In January 2020, the bushfires in Australia left thousands of people homeless. Foodbank Australia was activated as the government’s official emergency food and water relief organization, deploying volunteers and personnel to serve eight hundred thousand displaced people immediately. Last fall, the Philippines was hit by four typhoons in just three weeks. Good Food Grocer, the local food bank, worked with its existing partners and distributed emergency relief boxes that provided more than twenty-seven hundred families in Tiwi, Albay with a supply of fresh fruit, non-perishable foods, and personal hygiene products. In each case, local organizations with expertise in food recovery and redistribution were a linchpin in the official government response.

Logistical expertise

The most vulnerable communities are often the hardest to reach; in almost every instance, local organizations are the best at finding ways to deliver aid to remote towns and villages.

In Brazil, food bankers at Mesa Brasil SESC navigate the Amazon River to bring food stocks via small boats to Indigenous peoples, whose trust they've gained over time. Meanwhile, in South Africa, FoodForward SA has set up a Mobile Rural Depot Program that sends trucks filled with shelf-stable food products and fresh fruits and vegetables and delivers to rural communities hundreds of kilometers from the nearest food bank. These types of creative solutions to challenging logistics exemplify the creativity and ingenuity of local food banks.

Community partner

Local organizations understand their communities' greatest needs and know how to work with stakeholders to achieve the best results. For example, Zomato-Feeding India recognized early on during the pandemic the devastating impact lockdowns would have on India's daily-wage laborers. On the very same day that the national lockdown was announced, the organization launched a campaign to provide ration kits to daily wagers and their families. The kits provided enough food and other essential items for a family of five to have three meals a day for seven days. The items were purchased and sourced from local suppliers and distributed to families through multiple stakeholders, including national and local NGOs, municipal corporations, state governments, and city police. Because of Zomato-Feeding India's multi-sector approach and ability to anticipate an impending hunger crisis, the organization distributed more than 78.6 million meals to Indians in ahundred and eighty-one cities.

The pandemic's full economic and humanitarian impact on countries remains to be seen. As a result of the public health crisis, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations predicts that an additional 83 million to 132 million people will be pushed into hunger this year, and the International Labour Organization estimates that hundreds of millions of people remain under- or unemployed. When COVID-19 brought economies and society to their knees, local organizations such as food banks rose to the challenge. As you reflect on your 2020 giving and think ahead to the world you want to shape in 2021, I encourage you to consider local organizations such as food banks. The philanthropic community can help these organizations build their capacity and scale their effectiveness to recover more food and reach the most vulnerable populations. Investing in hunger relief today means we will have stronger communities tomorrow.

Headshot_Lisa MoonLisa Moon is president and CEO of The Global FoodBanking Network, an organization that serves the world's hungry through support for food banks in more than forty countries.

3 ways to decolonize philanthropy right now

December 23, 2020

News_globe_africaThe events of 2020 reinforce how desperately a paradigm shift is needed in philanthropy if it hopes to create more durable solutions to the world's most complex challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed how important it is to have agile, innovative organizations capable of responding quickly to shifting local contexts. At the same time, the reawakening of the social justice movement in the United States crystallized what happens when people are chronically underrepresented and left out of decisions that affect their lives.

While addressing these challenges can seem overwhelming, it's clear that one of the most effective ways funders can contribute is to support organizations built around community-driven solutions. Why? Because solutions for the people created by the people have the greatest chance of successfully changing the status quo.

While this may seem obvious, it entails a major shift in the way donors currently approach their giving — indeed, nothing less than a desire to "decolonize philanthropy." Decolonizing philanthropy, a term introduced by writer and activist Edgar Villanueva, requires philanthropists to assess to whom they choose to give as well as how their giving perpetuates the very problems they aim to solve.

Whether in the U.S. or in Kenya, where our organization, RefuSHE, operates, we see countless examples of well-intentioned donors pouring money into solutions they think should solve a problem — without checking whether the solution was created with input from the community most impacted by the problem. In the global development space, this often manifests as NGOs working in the Global South being led by leadership that sits in the Global North, far from the realities of the work and with only an anecdotal understanding of the local context. Too often, this modus operandi funnels money into short-lived solutions that feed an organizational culture of dependency rather than one of sustainability.

The approach itself is rooted in the imperialistic origins of "international development." Following World War II, the U.S. launched the Marshall Plan, introducing the building blocks for the international and humanitarian aid structure we see today. During the long decades of the Cold War, the U.S. awarded aid to other countries with the understanding that those countries would play by our rules and that the aid itself would be used in ways we approved of. At the other end of the spectrum, private philanthropic giving was driven, in part, by a "savior" mentality and the need to "lift up" poor people in other countries. In both cases, financial assistance was "given" from a place of control by people who thought they knew what was best for the communities they were trying to help. Solutions were parachuted in, communities were forced to adopt new ways, and, in many cases, the improved quality of life that was promised often failed to materialize.

To ensure greater progress toward a shared prosperity, decolonizing philanthropy presents an opportunity to make every dollar go further by centering investment in community-driven solutions. Here are three ways funders can ensure their investments are more efficient, effective, and equitable.

Invest in local leadership and programs co-designed with the communities served

Time and again, we've seen that lasting change arrives when communities have ownership of the solutions to the challenges they face. Interventions that feel forced not only tend to have a short life span but often yield less impact. The stories of PlayPumps and READ Global illustrate the difference well. The PlayPump system, a merry-go-round-like wheel that pumps water from wells as it is turned, was heavily endorsed by the international aid community and quickly scaled to more than fifteen hundred pumps in Zambia without much research or surveying of communities in advance. Not unpredictably, within two years a quarter of the installed pumps were in need of repairs. PlayPumps, it turned out, were fragile and cost four times what a traditional pump costs. What's more, many local women where the pumps had been installed reported feeling embarrassed every time they had to get water for their families, while a report by the Guardian found that children would have to "play" on the pumps twenty-seven hours a day to meet the per-pump target of delivering water to twenty-five hundred people. In short, the pumps failed to improve clean water availability in communities across Zambia, and much money and time was invested with little to show for it.

By contrast, READ Global embraced a community-driven approach that has stood the test of time. For more than twenty-five years, the organization has partnered with rural villages in Nepal, India, and Bhutan to establish community-driven libraries, resource centers, and social enterprises known as READ Centers that are owned and operated by the local community. There are now more than a hundred self-sustaining centers spread across the three countries, and not one center has closed since the first one opened in 1991.

Locally driven solutions are most effective when an organization's leadership team understands the local context first-hand and is strongly connected to the local community. Local leaders have a better understanding of how to create culturally relevant programs, how to optimize operations for the local context, and how to build trusting relationships with and beyond the community. All of which creates more opportunity for partnerships between those providing the service and those using the service.

At RefuSHE, we witnessed this first-hand when we invested in bringing on Geoffrey Thige to lead our Kenya operations as executive director. When COVID hit, having that executive presence in Kenya enabled us to navigate the public health crisis much more quickly and effectively. In fact, we were the first organization serving refugees in Kenya to move to virtual learning. And despite initial concerns that some donors might balk, seeing the tangible benefits of Geoffrey's presence in Nairobi gave us the courage to restructure our leadership and shift the majority of our executive functions to Kenya.

Funding is the biggest hurdle facing NGOs looking to similarly restructure. Donors need to trust local leadership and stop supporting organizational infrastructures that are built to cater to them more than the beneficiary communities they are intended to serve. Having an organization's CEO and "top brass" in the West is a relic of a twentieth-century donor model that has lost much of its relevance. Good intentions do not necessarily lead to good solutions. If they truly want to support effective, long-lasting solutions, donors need to move away from creating cultures of dependency that too often are perpetuated and reinforced by a "white guilt" mentality.

Fund collaboration rather than competition

The current donor incentive structure is rooted in competition. Organizations in the same field are constantly competing with one another to secure funds they need to survive. Competition for funding among NGOs working in similar spaces also stifles their ability to share information, data, and learnings. This scarcity model disincentivizes transparency and pushes organizations to keep lessons learned to themselves in order to stand out in the quest for funding.

Real, tangible impact requires collaboration. Our NGO, for instance, equips girl and women refugees with housing, education, counseling, and the vocational skills they need to reestablish some semblance of stability in their lives. While our services are rooted in a holistic approach to the plight of refugees, we don't work on resettlement cases (where refugees are formally resettled to a country like the U.S.); instead, we partner with organizations like HIAS and Refuge Point that specialize in refugee resettlement cases. When funding streams disincentivize an ecosystem of NGOs from collaborating, it is a disservice to the very communities we aim to serve.

Funding — and rewarding — organizations that work together to address the root causes of multifaceted issues enables communities to walk through all the doors of opportunity at once, rather than one door at time. Collaboration also fosters a culture where service providers share learnings and don't waste precious resources repeating mistakes. Above all, it means the people we aim to serve can more easily navigate the various services they need to establish productive, fulfilling lives.

Award unrestricted grants

All too often, funding comes with restrictions on how, when, and where it can be used. This assumes the donor knows best just because they have the money, rather than acknowledging the hard-earned insights of organizations working on the ground every day. Unrestricted funding requires trust in the organizations in which you invest. Unfortunately, this kind of trust too often is awarded to organizations led by leaders in the Global North with whom donors feel most comfortable. While many have good track records, the practice cuts out organizations that may be smaller in scale but that have more depth and experience collaborating with the communities they serve.

It's an open secret in Kenya that if you set up a nonprofit and are hoping for funding from the West, you'll have much better luck if your leaders are white and/or of Western origin. Whether in the U.S. or other developed countries, data backs up the observation that Black and African leaders are not awarded the same kind of trust. This leads to nonprofits where white, often well-connected Western leaders earn the top salaries, sucking up resources that could otherwise be used to attract top local talent that is much better suited for the job but too often undervalued.

Unrestricted funding also has the power to build more durable institutions. It allows organizations to balance how much is invested in program implementation and how much is invested in competitive salaries, technology infrastructure, and/or new facilities that can enhance the organization's operations over the long term. (We should all toast Mackenzie Scott for shattering the philanthropic establishment glass ceiling with her unprecedented giving in the form of large unrestricted grants.)

The time for change is now

As with any change, there will be those who resist it, those who say there isn't enough local talent to fill the available leadership positions, and those who say local leadership team won't get enough face time with donors if those donors are based in far-off countries. We ask those naysayers to take a critical look at how that critique is rooted in an imperialist mindset that blames communities in need for their problems rather than seeing them as the solution to those problems.

The movement to decolonize philanthropy is a big step forward in terms of making the most of every dollar invested in social good and creating inclusive, durable solutions to economic prosperity. We can make the choice to stop wasting money on short-sighted solutions. The time for change is now.

Thige_adly_refuSHE_philantopicGeoffrey Thige is the current executive director and incoming CEO of RefuSHE. Jailan Adly is the organization's outgoing CEO and incoming managing director.

5 Questions for...Michael Nyenhuis, President and CEO, UNICEF USA

October 22, 2020

UNICEF — the United Nations Children's Fund — is probably best known to Americans of a certain age for the orange trick-or-treat boxes it has been distributing to young trick-or-treaters since the 1950s. The successor to the International Children's Emergency Fund, which was created in 1946 to address the needs of children and mothers affected by the far-reaching devastation of World War II, the social welfare organization today works to improve the lives and defend the rights of children in a hundred and ninety-two countries and territories. 

Recently, PND spoke with Michael Nyenhuis, president and CEO of UNICEF USA, a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization established in 1947 to support UNICEF's work on behalf of the world's children, about the organization's historic decision to allocate funding and resources to help a handful of cities in the United States become more child-friendly, what it is doing to adapt its Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF campaign to our new COVID reality, and his advice to nonprofits trying to make their message heard in a very noisy world.

Headshot_michael_nyenhuisPhilanthropy News Digest: You joined UNICEF USA as president in March, after the World Health Organization had declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Given your experience in the humanitarian aid and development field, what were your immediate concerns for the organization?

Michael Nyenhuis: There were two. One was our ability to respond to COVID effectively around the world. UNICEF has done a terrific job of delivering personal protective equipment to forty million healthcare workers in some of the neediest countries and providing critical wash and sanitation supplies for seven and a half million people in countries that don't have the infrastructure we have here in the United States. We've all seen how challenged our response in the U.S. was, so you can imagine how much more difficult it is in far less resourced places, but, as I say, UNICEF did a terrific job of responding to the crisis in the short term.

My other concern was the impact of the pandemic on the critical health and education and nutrition programs that UNICEF operates around the world. We provide basic vaccines for 45 percent of the world's children, and yet our ability to deliver those vaccines and get kids vaccinations when they need them was compromised by the shutdowns and disruptions to supply chains. We're still seeing the impacts. There are a billion and a half kids out of school around the globe, and most of them lack the technology to access a curriculum. It's those kinds of basic programs for children, which UNICEF, under normal circumstances, provides so effectively, that were interrupted by the virus. And the question was, and is, "How do you to take meaningful measures to stem the spread of COVID and at the same time keep those programs going?"

PND: Clearly, there are COVID-related needs everywhere. In August, your organization announced that, for the first time in its history, it would allocate funding and resources to help cities in the United States become more child-friendly. The initial cohort of cities includes Houston, Minneapolis, and San Francisco. What was the reasoning behind the decision to devote resources to the U.S, and was the inclusion of Minneapolis in the initial cohort connected to the killing of George Floyd and the protests sparked by his killing?

MN: Actually, the idea of UNICEF USA working more directly on children's issues here in the United States has been simmering for some time, and the decision to go ahead wasn’t just a response to recent events. Our tagline at UNICEF is "for every child," and for some time now we've been thinking about the needs of vulnerable kids in some of the wealthier countries that typically provide a large portion of the resources for UNICEF programs globally.

UNICEF also has a framework called "Child-Friendly Cities" that it has used effectively in communities around the world, over three thousand of them to date, where we work with municipalities to help them develop child-friendly policies and programs and think about how they're using their budgets and resources to positively impact children. We started to see that as an opportunity here in the U.S. as well.

So, all that had been going on behind the scenes, and then more recent events, COVID in particular, really ended up shining a light on the needs of kids in underprivileged communities and communities of color here in the U.S. that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID. The racial justice issues that came to the fore after the killing of George Floyd simply accelerated our plan to move forward with the Child Friendly Cities Initiative, and that's what we've been doing.

We actually had a meeting last year with officials from cities that were interested in the initiative, and Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Houston were among those cities. They also happen to be cities we were already in conversation with, so the fact that Minneapolis is one of the first cities to work with us is more coincidental than anything, but I think the timing is fortuitous.

PND: With whom will you be working in those cities?

MN: Well, typically we work with the department in the mayor's office or city government that is responsible for child-focused programs in the community. Sometimes that's the health department, sometimes it's the education department, sometimes it’s a combination. And our work with them is based on looking at the policies they’ve developed that impact children and making sure they are child-friendly. If we feel they aren't, we have templates they can use and different ways for them to think about modifying, adding, or adopting those policies to more effectively promote healthy, productive, and safe environments for children in their communities.

Beyond that, our efforts to convene public-sector agencies and child-serving not-for-profits focused on improving conditions for kids — especially vulnerable kids — and get them talking about how they can work together to make sure kids have the things they need to thrive often serves as a catalyst for more effective programming. I'm talking about things like equitable access to health care and a more equitable distribution of parks and playgrounds where kids can play safely. We're in conversation with dozens of cities that have expressed interest in the initiative, and our aspirational goal is for every community across the country to develop child-friendly programs aligned with our framework, because, again, it's a tested and proven approach to making communities more safe, secure, and healthy for children.

PND: Most Americans know UNICEF from its orange Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF boxes. Obviously, Halloween is going to look different this year. What percentage of your annual fundraising revenue is tied to Halloween, and what are you doing to adapt to our new COVID reality?

MN: Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF is an iconic part of the fall fundraising season here in the United States, and millions of kids have been involved in it over the seventy years we've run the program. Over that time, we've raised $180 million for programs that impact kids around the world. But beyond the money, it is a program that engages kids when they're young and helps them think about the globe in a different way and recognize that they are global citizens who can do something to make a difference for other children in other places who may not be as fortunate.

I Trick-or-Treated for UNICEF when I was a kid, and it really made me understand that the world was bigger than my neighborhood and that there were children in faraway places who didn't have the things I was lucky to have and had needs I could hardly imagine. No doubt, it’s one of the things that led me to humanitarian and development work. And, you know, I speak all the time to supporters of UNICEF who had their first exposure to the organization through our Trick-or-Treat boxes. So, the program is bigger than just what we're able to raise every year, although it is an important part of our budget. It's really about creating global citizens who are going to be interested in other people, other countries, and global causes the rest of their lives.

You won't be surprised to hear that this year we're pivoting because of the COVID crisis to a virtual trick-or-treat experience. And what we've cooked up is really pretty amazing and is going to be fun for kids to participate in. Kids who sign up will get to track how much they raise through their own virtual trick-or-treat box and decide where they want their money to go — we'll give them several options for how the money they raise can be invested to help other kids around the world. To learn more and register, just go to trickortreatforunicef.org.

PND: Excellent. As a former journalist, do you have any advice for nonprofit communications professionals who may be struggling to get their message heard at this very, very noisy time?

MN: I don't know that it's advice, but what I would tell people is that the challenges we are experiencing here in the U.S., whether it's COVID or racial injustice or a dysfunctional political system, are challenges that people in other countries are also experiencing. Take South Sudan, for instance. I was having a conversation with our team there a couple of weeks ago, and all the pre­cautions we are taking here to prevent and slow the spread of COVID — masking and social distancing and delaying the start of schools — all those things are happening in South Sudan, too. But even though there are similarities, the depth of the need and the capacity needed to recover from something like COVID in a place like South Sudan is very, very different. So, while it can be useful to draw parallels, let's not lose sight of the reality in really resource-poor countries, and let's not forget that people in those countries need our help as much as they ever did.

— Mitch Nauffts

A conversation with Mari Kuraishi, President, Jessie Ball duPont Fund

October 06, 2020

Mari Kuraishi came to prominence as president of GlobalGiving, which she co-founded with her husband, Dennis Whittle, in 2002. During her time there, the crowdfunding platform facilitated over $514 million in giving by more than a million donors to twenty-seven thousand projects around the world. In 2011, Kuraishi, who previously had worked at the World Bank, where she spearheaded the launch of the Development Marketplace, was named one of Foreign Policy's 100 Global Thinkers for "crowdsourcing worldsaving." Since January 2019, she has served as president of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund in Jacksonville, Florida.

PND recently spoke with Kuraishi — who chaired the board of GuideStar before it combined with Foundation Center in 2019 to form Candid and then served as co-chair of the Candid board during its first year — about the impact of crowdfunding on the global development landscape, her work at the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, and what she has learned about the social sector's response to urgent problems.

Mari_kuraishi_jessie_ball_dupontPhilanthropy News Digest: After seeing firsthand through your work at the World Bank the difficulty local officials and social entrepreneurs often had in securing funding for their development projects, you and your husband co-founded the world's first crowdfunding platform. Back then, what made you think individuals in developed countries would be willing to participate directly in the funding of such projects?

Mari Kuraishi: That is a very good question, because back in 2000 when we left the World Bank there actually was very little evidence that people were ready to give online, let alone to projects based thousands of miles away. To be sure, many generous donors existed, giving to brand-name NGOs like CARE, Oxfam, or the International Red Cross, but even those organizations were not yet online. Still, we were convinced that individual donors would give if they had a platform through which to do it. We were also sure that changes in technology would transform people's sense of proximity, and we knew that proximity was a key driver of generosity. What we weren't so sure about was how quickly it would happen.

PND: How has the popularity of crowdfunding and crowdfunding sites changed the international development landscape in the last dozen years or so?

MK: That's a little harder to calculate. Crowdfunding has definitely transformed giving in the U.S. since we founded GlobalGiving; online giving now represents almost a tenth of giving overall, starting from almost zero in 2000. That means more than $4 billion flowed through online giving platforms in 2019. What part of that $4 billion goes to international development projects, I can't tell you. But I do know this: in 2002, when we put up the first version of our website, we processed $25,000 in donations. This year it looks like GlobalGiving will process close to $100 million in donations to thousands of project leaders all over the world.

PND: While you were at GlobalGiving, the organization developed a framework of core values that included things like "always open" and "listen, act, learn, repeat." The emphasis on listening, on solutions developed by those on the front lines, and on continuous improvement through evidence-based learning has been adopted by many other nonprofits and foundations in recent years. Do you think what appears to be a gradual shift away from top-down funding models to more bottom-up crowdsourced models is here to stay?

MK: You're speaking right to my confirmation bias. I'm the woman who thought online giving was around the corner at the end of the year 2000. Yes, I think respecting the problem-solving capacities of communities and local leaders is here to stay. Not only are we seeing hashtags like #shiftthepower, we're seeing movements like Black Lives Matter and the Women's March come to the fore, so I cannot help but think that citizen leadership is on the rise. And perhaps I'm splitting hairs here, but it's not necessarily a shift away from top-down to bottom-up, so much as there is a scope for both types of leadership and action — just in different contexts.

PND: You are a firm believer in using data to grow and strengthen trust between funders and nonprofits. Is the sector making progress in that area, and what are some of the challenges that may be slowing that progress?

MK: Yes, I think we are making progress in the use of data to grow and strengthen trust between funders and nonprofits. First, data is easier and cheaper to collect and analyze; we have technology to thank for that. Second, we have emerging standards for what data matters — ranging from the philosophical, conceptual, and qualitative frameworks provided by movements like Leap Ambassadors, centered around the Leap of Reason initiative launched by Mario Morino, to the specific and granular, like the GuideStar/Candid Exchange profile. All of this creates a way for organizations to benchmark their own status and progress. I see three challenges in this regard: first, data scientists are still scarce and expensive in the social sector; second, not as many funders understand how to interpret the data, which means that sometimes we don't make the jump into trust-based philanthropy as readily as we might; and, finally, not everyone agrees that the corollary to greater transparency from nonprofits is more unrestricted funding.

PND: What is your take on how COVID-19 is impacting charitable giving in general and crowdfunding for development projects in particular?

MK: You should probably ask Alix Guerrier, my successor, as he's the man at the helm of crowdfunding in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. I can tell you, though, that what I've heard from grantees at the Jessie Ball duPont Fund — who do not engage in international development — is that their traditional models of fundraising, which rely in great part on in-person events, have taken a hit, and that has spurred them to think a lot more about the potential for crowdfunding to fill the gaps.

PND: The Jessie Ball duPont Fund's grantmaking activities are guided by two strategic themes: equity and placemaking. What are the foundation's top priorities at the moment? And have the COVID-19 crisis and this summer's protests against systemic racism changed how you approach those priorities?

MK: Our priorities are in striking the right balance between seeking specific opportunities for change while also meeting the needs of our grantees and enhancing their resilience and effectiveness. To that end, we've built out an ambitious technical assistance program for grantees focused on fundraising, listening to constituent feedback, building capacity around data and equity, and achieving organizational transparency. The COVID-19 crisis really pushed us to undertake this as a hedge against the speed and magnitude of change that the crisis wrought. The protests against systemic racism redoubled our commitment to equity, which we had identified as a core direction through a strategy review we conducted last year. It has also increased the urgency I personally feel around making sure that we are not perpetuating systemic injustices through the patterns and processes of our grantmaking.

PND: As of the beginning of the year, about a third of the fund's endowment was invested in a socially responsible manner or to achieve a positive social or environmental impact. Can you tell us about the kinds of impact investments the fund is looking to make?

MK: The majority of our socially responsible investments, roughly $108 million, are in portfolios of companies that have been screened for best business practices, such as anti-discrimination, gender and racial equity, workforce development, wealth creation, and anti-pollution, among others.

About 6 percent, $18 million, is invested in high-impact funds and companies focused on affordable housing, support for small businesses, medical/social service tech, and clean energy. Illumen Capital, for instance, has a double bottom line of anticipated market-rate return and social impact. By directing capital to women- and people of color-owned businesses, Illumen finds traditionally overlooked value and doubles down by also working with financial managers to reduce their implicit biases in investing.

The Jessie Ball duPont Fund is largely place-based and about $12 million of our high-impact investments are in the communities Mrs. duPont cared about. These investments have mostly been in community development financial institutions (CDFIs) that provide access to affordable capital to developers, as well as individuals who might not qualify for traditional commercial bank loans but need money for a car, mortgage, or to capitalize a small business.

PND: Asian Americans have not always been front and center in movements for racial and social justice. Why is that, and do you think it is changing?

MK: Yes, you're right that Asian Americans are underrepresented in movements for racial and social justice. But we did have people like Fred Korematsu, who explicitly challenged the internment order for Japanese Americans all the way up to the Supreme Court — and lost — and Yuri Kochiyama, who was at Malcolm X's side when he was assassinated. Both were radicalized by their experience of internment, and perhaps that points to an answer to your question about Asian Americans and racial or social justice. Perhaps, as a community, we have tended to not tell those stories of injustice — except for extremely visible and acute events like the internment — and thereby have not mobilized our own communities. I do think that Asian-American Gen Z-ers and millennials seem to be as fired up as their peers — my personal favorite is K-pop fans mobilizing for Black Lives Matter — but I'll admit my conclusion is based entirely on an anecdote here.

PND: Your professional career has included stints at a huge, well-resourced multilateral organization, at a social enterprise startup, and now at an established private foundation. What have those experiences taught you about the ways in which the social sector responds to urgent problems and about what it might do differently to create more impact and really move the needle on those problems? Are you hopeful it will be able to do so?

MK: That's difficult to distill into a short answer, but here's a take. Large, well-resourced multilateral organizations organize their inputs and subject their business processes to scrutiny, much like large, for-profit multilateral institutions do, with one exception: their results aren't subject to competition. Social enterprise startups usually have to compete to get attention and capital to survive, but many don't have the resources to invest in other resources, such as human capital. The foundation world isn't really impacted by competition, either. I'd say that I was forced into greater accountability and transparency and soul-searching at the startup than at either of the two other places. So, the one thing I might say is that competition, channeled well, matters.

It would be good, I think, for us in the foundation and multilateral-aid worlds, to hold ourselves accountable to a greater degree of transparency, such as benchmarking ourselves to common standards. Of course, I can foresee the potential for dispute around those standards, so perhaps we just start with greater transparency and see where it leads us. But the urgency of the need to become more effective than we are today, I think, is undeniable. It's the only feasible response to what Jon Kabat-Zinn calls the "Full Catastrophe," because in the short run at least, we can't magically come up with more resources to dedicate to the growing list of challenges we face.

— Kyoko Uchida

Mexican president targets U.S. philanthropy, but it’s Mexican civil society that could take the hit

September 22, 2020

Tren-Maya-Map-07On Friday August 28, 2020, four days before I officially became the W.K. Kellogg Chair for Community Philanthropy at the Johnson Center, I knew what the topic of my inaugural blog for this platform would be.

That day, Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador, or AMLO, as he is known, shared the results of what he termed an "investigation" into the funding of nine non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who have opposed his principal infrastructure project, the Mayan Train (Tren Maya) (Presidency of the Republic, 2020a). AMLO claimed that the organizations had clandestinely received almost $14 million in grants specifically to oppose this project from five U.S. foundations, including Ford, Rockefeller, the National Endowment for Democracy, ClimateWorks, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. It is important to state upfront that all the recipient organizations vehemently deny the allegations.

Given that my chair was endowed jointly by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Kellogg Company 25-Year Employees' Fund, and that I have worked over the last two decades to both research and strengthen international and domestic philanthropy in Mexico, I feel a special obligation to address the accusations and innuendos made by the Mexican president.

Another motivating factor for me is that this attack is not an isolated incident. It occurs against a backdrop of increasingly hostile rhetoric and policy actions directed against Mexican civil society from the Mexican government, as well as increasing violence against environmental and human rights activists in that country, as captured by Mexico's declining score in the Freedom House Index (Freedom House, 2020). Tragically, this trend is global — in many countries, civil society is under attack (International Center for Not-for-Profit Law [ICNL], 2016).

AMLO and Tren Maya

To understand the significance of the Mayan Train and AMLO's frustration with its opponents' success, we need to go back to his election in 2018 and his campaign slogan, "For the good of all, first the poor" (Por el bien de todos, primero los pobres). He promised to lead Mexico through what he calls the Fourth Transformation, upending the corrupt, neo-liberal political and economic system that for decades has favored the rich and powerful — the "cabals of the powerful" — at the expense of the poor.

Tren Maya was to be his signature infrastructure project. The plan was to lay a thousand miles of rail around the perimeter of the Yucatan Peninsula, connecting key destinations and igniting economic prosperity by facilitating tourism and transportation of raw materials and manufactured goods. The government of Mexico estimates the cost at $6.5 billion USD and predicts it will create half a million jobs during construction and have a multiplier effect on the region's economy (Government of Mexico, 2020).

Opposition to the Mayan Train

From the start, the project has met with stiff resistance from an assortment of local, national, and international groups that believe the mega-project will bring disruption and environmental degradation. The rail line will pass through five states that hold some of the nation's most important archaeological sites and biodiverse habitats.

Soon after AMLO announced a plan for public consultation, hundreds of Mexican environmentalists, scientists, and human rights advocates published an appeal to postpone it, arguing, "High biodiversity sites must be preserved according to the most stringent international standards, taking into account the indigenous peoples who have been the guarantors of their territories and custodians of the natural and cultural wealth of our country" (Lichtinger & Aridjis 2018). Nevertheless, the consultation proceeded.

During the month-long consultation at the end of 2019, the government claimed high levels of participation and approval in both a popular referendum and assemblies aimed at indigenous groups. Local organizations cried foul. After observing the process, the Mexico office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement that said in part, "The information presented to indigenous communities only outlined the potential benefits of the project and not the negative impacts it may cause" (United Nations, 2019). It also found that the process did not comply with "culturally appropriate" standards designed to encourage free participation and that the participation of indigenous women was especially inadequate.

Local organizations began to collaborate with larger NGOs based in Mexico City with expertise in environmental law and public policy, and it is these nine NGOs that AMLO identified in his August statement. Together, the groups launched successful court challenges and public protests, calling into question the legality of the consultation process, as well as the project's forecasted benefits and compliance with environmental regulations. At present, two of the seven sections of the project have been halted by court orders, while construction proceeds on others (Vanguardia 2020), raising the question of how the train can function if its circuit is left incomplete.

Benefactores y Opositores (Benefactors and Opponents)

AMLO claimed that these NGOs had hidden their sources of funding because they were acting on behalf of foreign interests, including multinational corporations and the U.S. State Department. He declared his role was to expose the fact that organizations were "disguised" as advocates for the environment and human rights when in fact they were acting on behalf of what he termed "cabals of the powerful" (Presidency of the Republic, 2020). He put his case succinctly on September 4:

What was wrong is that they worked in anonymity, clandestinely, without transparency, supposedly as independent non-governmental associations, so maybe they are independent, but from the people, not from the cabals of the powerful....

Thus, his criticism of the NGOs has two prongs:

  1. that their work and their funding was clandestine and opaque; and
  2. that these groups are not accountable to the Mexican people, but rather to the corporate and political interests behind their donors and therefore are illegitimate.

Let's examine each claim.

Transparency Defended

The investigation shared by the president states that the organizations' activities include filing lawsuits to stop construction of sections of the Mayan Train or the project as a whole, filing a complaint before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, investigating and documenting irregularities of the project, and disseminating the findings of such research (Cuevas, 2020). Given that these acts are essentially public, or need to be made public in order to have an impact, it is difficult to understand how they can be conducted clandestinely.

In a series of individual and collective statements, the named organizations have defended their work, contending that the funding they received from U.S. philanthropy was both legal under Mexican and international law and transparent, and that the grants identified were not made to them for the purpose of opposing the project (Animal Politico, 2020).

The organizations pointed out that in the table provided by the president, seven of the nine grants started well before his election in 2018, contradicting his claim that the funds were intended to defeat the project. Similarly, more than once AMLO and his spokesperson stated that some of this information was public. AMLO's administration also said the investigation was conducted by a "private foundation," but they did not identify the researcher nor the source of their information. Using publicly available data from the tax authority's transparency portal for nonprofits, a Mexican think tank called Alternativas y Capacidades found that five of the NGOs listed were charitable organizations, and of those three received the bulk of their resources from sources within Mexico (Alternativas y Capacidades, 2020).

Legitimacy Defended

This leaves the second prong of the critique: does the receipt of foreign grants delegitimize the work of an NGO?

While AMLO has leveled a rhetorical attack, many other governments have placed regulatory restrictions or outright bans on organizations receiving foreign funds (ICNL, 2016). Such restrictions often represent a government's attempt to assert its sovereignty against both foreign governments and domestic actors, denying resources to groups they perceive as "political rivals" (Dupuy & Prakash, 2020, p. 618-619). The assumptions underlying such restrictions are that "internationally funded NGOs are not well rooted in the local community," and that they "are more responsive to donors' concerns than those of the communities they serve" (Dupuy & Prakash, 2020, p. 621).

This argument does not do justice to the mechanisms for community accountability that NGOs practice and that international donors typically look for as part of their due diligence (Brechenmacher & Carothers, 2018). These mechanisms include board composition, consultation and representation, and compliance with governmental regulations and ethical standards. While there are cases of heavy-handed international funders seeking to influence and even dictate outcomes for communities and public policy, most — and particularly those foundations named by AMLO — make it their policy to respect local autonomy and support community-led development. Still, funding from foreign donors opens a potential line of attack for critics.

Why accept cross-border philanthropy?

Given that cross-border donations can present a point of vulnerability for NGOs, why do they accept them?

NGOs turn to foreign funders because local sources of funding are often quite scarce, especially for issues that risk the ire of the government — like the defense of human rights and environmental justice. Additionally, outside of the world's wealthiest nations, there are few philanthropic foundations (Johnson, 2018). While all nations have their unique expressions of generosity and vibrant traditions of mutual self-help, few exhibit a strong propensity to support formal nonprofit organizations.

Mexico's formal nonprofit sector is relatively under-developed and is heavily reliant on earned income (Salamon, Sokolowski, & Haddock, 2017). Foreign donors do not play a large role in supporting the sector as a whole, with about 10 percent of donations coming from abroad (Layton et al., 2017). This challenging context has been further complicated by actions taken by AMLO's administration:

  • It has moved to eliminate Mexican federal funding of nonprofit organizations (Technical Advisory Council 2020), which was already low compared to other nations (Salamon, Sokolowski, & Haddock, 2017).
  • The tax authority has stepped up its audits of charitable organizations and its revocations of their charitable status: in the three years prior to AMLO's presidency, there was one revocation a month. Now there is one every other working day (Tax Administration Service, 2020). One high-profile case involved the revocation of the charitable status of Mexico's largest community foundation, the Foundation of Chihuahuan Businesspersons (FECHAC), widely respected for its professionalism (González Sierra, 2020).
  • The tax authority has also imposed an income tax on earned revenue (unrelated to mission) that exceeds 10 percent of total organizational income (Council on Foundations, 2019).

These policies weaken the three major sources of domestic funding: government support, private grants, and earned revenue. With his attacks on foreign grants, AMLO and his administration are undermining all avenues of financial sustainability for Mexico's nonprofit sector.

Why cultivate domestic — especially community — philanthropy?

These actions on the part of the current Mexican administration present an important challenge to Mexican civil society. There is a growing consensus among civic leaders and international donors that the long-term sustainability and credibility of NGOs depends on a more favorable enabling environment for civil society, especially the growth of domestic philanthropy.

Many donors have sought to encourage the emergence of domestic philanthropy in developing nations (C.S. Mott Foundation, 2013; Regelbrugge, 2006). My own research has sought to provide empirical data to better understand the nature of this challenge, and my consulting work has supported efforts to encourage the development of Mexican civil society and its philanthropic sector, particularly the institutions of community philanthropy.

Community philanthropy in Mexico has shown great promise in addressing the key challenge of cultivating a culture of giving and promoting the use of institutional channels for generosity (Olvera et al., 2020). At their best, community foundations work with a broad range of stakeholders at the intersection of donors, nonprofits, business, and government, and they enjoy a unique ability to support community-led development. Their work demonstrates that, far from being independent of a community's people, they are directly engaged with and accountable to them.

(Image credit: Mayan Train Route image from Dialogo Chino.)

Headshot_Michael_LaytonMichael Layton, PhD, joined the Johnson Center in September 2020 as the W.K. Kellogg Community Philanthropy Chair, the nation's first endowed chair focused on community philanthropy. This post originally was created for the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy's blog and was published there on September 16, 2020.

 

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References

Alternativas y Capacidades, A.C. 2020. Analysis of Data from Fondos a la Vista. Data retrieved from https://fondosalavista.mx/

Animal Politico. 2020. Gobierno de AMLO acusa a Animal Político y a OSC de recibir recursos para atacar al Tren Maya. Animal Politico. Retrieved from https://www.animalpolitico.com/2020/08/gobierno-amlo-animal-politico-recursos-atacar-tren-maya/

Brechenmacher, S. & Carothers, T. (2018). The legitimacy menu.Examine Civil Society Legitimacy. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Retrieved from https://carnegieendowment.org/2018/05/02/examining-civil-society-legitimacy-pub-76211

C.S. Mott Foundation. (2013). 2012 Annual Report, Community foundations: Rooted locally, Growing globally. Retrieved from https://www.mott.org/news/publications/2012-annual-report-community-foundations-rooted-locally-growing-globally/

Council on Foundations. (2019). Nonprofit Law in Mexico. Global Grantmaking Country Notes. Retrieved from https://www.cof.org/content/nonprofit-law-mexico

Cuevas J. R. [JesusRCuevas]. (2020, August 28). Hoy se dio a conocer una investigación sobre el financiamiento de fundaciones extranjeras a organizaciones no gubernamentales y a un medio que se oponen a la construcción del Tren Maya. [Tweet]. Retrieved from
https://twitter.com/JesusRCuevas/status/1299368891525804032

Dupuy, K. & Prakash, A. (2020). Global backlash against foreign funding to domestic non-governmental organizations. In Powell, W. W., & Bromley, P. (Eds.). (2020). The Nonprofit sector: A research handbook. Stanford University Press.

Freedom House. (2020). Freedom in the World: Mexico. Retrieved from https://freedomhouse.org/country/mexico/freedom-world/2020

González Sierra, E. (2020, January 22). FECHAC’s Charitable Status Revoked. El Heraldo de Chihuahua. Retrieved from https://www.elheraldodechihuahua.com.mx/local/desautorizan-a-la-fechac-para-recibir-donativos-noticias-de-chihuahua-4732080.html

Government of Mexico. (2020). Mayan Train: Multiplier Effect. Retrieved from https://www.trenmaya.gob.mx/efecto-multiplicador/

International Center for Not-for-Profit Law. (2016). Survey of Trends Affecting Civic Space: 2015-16. Global trends in NGO law 7(4). Retrieved from https://mk0rofifiqa2w3u89nud.kinstacdn.com/wp-content/uploads/global-ngo-law_trends7-4.pdf?_ga=2.245940356.162911111.1599646423-2060145790.1598725786

Johnson, P. D. (2018). Global philanthropy report: Perspectives on the global foundation sector. Harvard Kennedy School, the Hauser Institute for Civil Society at the Center for Public Leadership. Retrieved from https://cpl.hks.harvard.edu/files/cpl/files/global_philanthropy_report_final_april_2018.pdf

Layton, M. D. (2017). Regulation and self-regulation in the Mexican nonprofit sector. Chapter in Dunn, A., Breen,O., & Sidel, M. (Eds.). Regulatory waves: Comparative perspectives on state regulation and self-regulation policies in the nonprofit sector. London: Cambridge University Press.

Layton, M.D., Rosales, M.A. (2017). Financiamiento de las donatarias autorizadas. Chapter in Butcher García-Colín, J. (Ed.), Generosidad en México II: Fuentes, cauces y destinos. Mexico City: Editorial Porrúa, Centro de Investigación y Estudios sobre Sociedad Civil, Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey.

Layton, M. D., & Mossel, V. (2015). Giving in Mexico: Generosity, Distrust and Informality. Chapter in Wiepking, P. & Handy, F. (Eds.) The Palgrave Handbook of Global Philanthropy (pp. 64–87). Palgrave Macmillan, London.

Lichtinger, V. & Aridjis, H. 2020. The Mayan trainwreck. Opinion. Washington Post. Dec. 4, 2018. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/theworldpost/wp/2018/12/04/amlo/

Mexican Center for Environmental Law. (2020). The defense of human rights and the environment strengthens democracy and should not be criminalized. Retrieved from https://www.cemda.org.mx/la-defensa-de-los-derechos-humanos-y-de-la-naturaleza-fortalece-la-democracia-y-no-debe-criminalizarse/

Olvera Ortega, M., Layton, M., Graterol Acevedo, G. & Bolaños Martínez, L. (2020). Community Foundations in Mexico: A Comprehensive Profile 2009–2016 – Report Summary. Mexico City: Alternativas y Capacidades, A.C., Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and Inter-American Foundation. https://alternativasycapacidades.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/FundComunitarias_ENG.pdf

Presidency of the Republic. (2020a). Transcript of press conference of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on August 28, 2020, Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico. Retrieved from https://www.gob.mx/presidencia/es/articulos/version-estenografica-conferencia-de-prensa-del-presidente-andres-manuel-lopez-obrador-del-28-de-agosto-del-2020?idiom=es

Presidency of the Republic. (2020b). Transcript of press conference of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on September 4, 2020, Mexico City, Mexico. Retrieved from https://www.gob.mx/presidencia/articulos/version-estenografica-conferencia-de-prensa-del-presidente-andres-manuel-lopez-obrador-del-4-de-septiembre-de-2020?idiom=es

Regelbrugge, L. (2006). Funding Foundations: Report on Ford Foundation support of grantmaking institutions, 1975 to 2001. Ford Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.fordfoundation.org/work/learning/research-reports/funding-foundations-report-on-ford-foundation-support-of-grantmaking-institutions-1975-to-2001/

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Technical Advisory Council. (2020, September 02). Pronouncement of the technical advisory council of the federal law on promotion of the activities of the civil society organizations (CSOs), regarding the declarations of the President of the Republic Lic, Andrés Manuel López Obrador on CSOs. Retrieved from https://consejotecnicoconsultivo.org.mx/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/CARTA-DEL-CTC-CON-RELACION-A-LOS-PRONUNCIAMIENTOS-DEL-PRESIDENTE-AMLO.pdf

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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.

Participatory design approaches to impact investing

July 15, 2020

Diversity_participants_around_table_GettyImagesAcross the social sector, impact investors are assessing the grave threats posed by COVID-19 — both the existential risk to the global economy and to the companies and funds in which we have invested. More than anything, we are aware of the need to listen, learn, and adapt to this moment.

Philanthropic funds have been investing for social impact since at least the 1990s, but it is only recently that the idea has caught on in the wider world. A 2019 report by the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) found that some two hundred and fifty institutions, mostly in the United States, Canada, and Western Europe, manage more than $239 billion in social impact investments around the world. At the end of 2018, GIIN estimated the full impact-investing market at $502 billion.

That's a lot of money, but who determines how it gets invested?

While the modern development-aid community places a premium on consultation with those who receive aid, impact investors do not necessarily do the same. Yes, most of the GIIN survey respondents link their declared objectives to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, but conspicuously missing from their responses is any exploration of the question: How are affected workers, communities, and consumers involved in deciding where and how investments are made, in implementing the process, and in assessing the results? In other  words, can impact investing be made more democratic?

Currently, it is impact investors themselves who control the decision-making process, and the linchpin of their approach is an often-untested assumption that the benefits of the investment will trickle down to workers, communities, and/or consumers. That approach needs to change. While impact investing, with its profit imperative, is not the same as development aid or conventional grantmaking, it still seeks to deliver and measure social good. That's why we believe impact investors could take a few cues from philanthropic funds.

An effective participatory approach, which some call "user-design" or "co-design," could be integrated throughout the life-cycle of an investment — and the Open Society Foundation's Economic Justice Program has been supporting research by the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex to map out how it might be done.

Our research team identified four key stages in which a participatory approach can make a difference:

Sourcing and approval: A number of impact investments made by OSF's Soros Economic Development Fund are testing out a participatory approach. In some cases, we have supported workshops, focus groups, and surveys through which the targeted community can outline its hopes and concerns. Impact investors can also require that assessment of community members' perspectives be included in all investment recommendations, while investment committees at funds focused on particular geographies or issues can include members of the community.

Managing: Impact investors can require that community members sit on an investee's board; or that communities be given some ownership of the investment through mechanisms such as "golden-share" arrangements (which come with enhanced voting rights); or that employees be offered stock ownership plans that give them a meaningful stake in both the operation and governance of the company. Investors could also consider adopting a participatory budgeting strategy that allows the targeted community to democratically allocate a portion of the intended investment.

Monitoring: There's a wide array of participatory methods for monitoring projects, including approaches involving "participatory statistics," in which local people generate their own data, or the "Most Significant Change" technique, which regularly asks those targeted by a program about its impact on their life. Such methods can be a complement to more traditional monitoring methods such as consumer surveys, town hall meetings, and focus groups.

Exit: The potential positive social impacts of an impact investment can easily be lost when an investor decides to pull out. To ensure the sustainability of an investment, investors should take steps to build a decision-making process that involves community members during a major transition such as a sale, an acquisition, or the bringing in of new investors. They can also think about offering the target community a say in any changes to the by-laws and/or a veto over any sale of the enterprise.

Many of these ideas are untested, but the field is changing fast. One of the most developed examples is the global Buen Vivir Fund, which was founded in 2018 by Thousand Currents, a nonprofit in California. Among its innovations, the fund invites local grassroots leaders to serve on the board with fund members and gives them equal voting rights in the fund's governance and management.

Clearly, a participatory approach can add costs and time for those on both sides of a deal. And it often makes an already difficult task even harder. We also understand that even in fields where it is standard procedure, community participation, when executed poorly, can amount to little more than expensive and time-consuming consultation. On the other hand, when done well it can leverage local knowledge in ways that benefit the investment process at every stage.

Despite the recent proliferation of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) funds, the potential costs of a participatory approach mean we should not expect the for-profit investment world to take the lead. But if philanthropy can show that such an approach actually generates positive impacts, we believe it's only a matter time before private funds take notice — and a participatory approach to impact investing becomes a differentiating factor they cannot afford to ignore. After all, isn't that what happened with social impact investing itself?

(Photo credit: GettyImages)

Sean_Hinton_John_Gaventa_PhilanTopicSean Hinton is co-director of the Economic Justice Program at the Open Society Foundations and CEO of the Soros Economic Development Fund.

John Gaventa is a professor at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS). Background research was provided by Peter O'Flynn, now with New Philanthropy Capital, and Grace Higdon, IDS.

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.

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.

Foundations Step Up Funding for COVID-19 Response Efforts (May 1-15, 2020)

May 17, 2020

CoronavirusAs 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 two weeks:

ARIZONA

Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, Phoenix, AZ | $2.9 Million

The Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust has announced emergency grants totaling $2.9 million in support of COVID-19 relief and response efforts in Maricopa County and across Arizona. The funding includes unrestricted grants totaling $2.51 million to six Maricopa County hospitals and hospital systems responding directly to the spread of the virus; $350,000 to the Arizona Community Foundation's Arizona COVID-19 Community Response Fund; and $50,000 to the Arizona Apparel Foundation in support of its Fashion and Business Resource Innovation Center (FABRIC), which is investing in an industrial-level computerized cutting machine and additional sewing machines to produce much-needed personal protection equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers. Since March 30, the trust has awarded COVID-related emergency grants totaling $9.2 million.

CALIFORNIA

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Redwood City, CA | $750,000

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has announced grants totaling $750,000 in support of five studies of COVID-19 disease progression at the level of the individual cell. To be conducted at Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Ragon Institute, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Columbia University, VIB-UGent, the Wellcome Sanger Institute, and the Josep Carreras Research Institute, the studies are expected to generate the first single-cell biology datasets from infected donors and provide insights into how the virus infects humans, which cell types are involved, and how the disease progresses. The data from the projects will be made available to the scientific community via open access datasets and portals.

William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Menlo Park, CA | $10 Million

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has announced a $10 million grant to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation in support of COVID-19 relief efforts in the Bay Area. To be disbursed over the next twelve months, the funding will support SVCF's COVID-19 Regional Response Fund, which supports community-based organizations providing direct assistance to individuals and families impacted by COVID-19, and the Regional Nonprofit Emergency Fund, which provides flexible operating support grants to nonprofits working to provide residents of the region with food, shelter, health, and mental health services.

Imaginable Futures, Redwood City, CA | $3 Million

Imaginable Futures, an education venture spun off by Omidyar Network in January, has announced commitments totaling more than $3 million to provide immediate support for students, educators, and childcare providers in the United States, Latin America, and Africa impacted by COVID-19. Grants include $500,000 in support of Common Sense Media's Wide Open Schools, which aggregates high-quality educational content; $500,000 to Home Grown's Home-based Child Care Emergency Fund to help provide child care for essential workers and assistance to childcare providers; and, as part of a $1 million partnership with the Lemann Foundation, $500,000 to an emergency relief fund that will support access to high-quality curricula and technology for students in Brazil. The organization also is partnering with Shining Hope for Communities in Nairobi as well as Shujaaz, a network of social ventures based in Kenya and Tanzania.

W.M. Keck Foundation, Los Angeles, CA | $2 Million

The University of California, Los Angeles has announced a $2 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation to establish the UCLA W.M. Keck Foundation COVID-19 Research Fund. The fund will support basic science research aimed at advancing understanding of the SARS-CoV2 virus, the mechanisms by which it causes COVID-19, and why some people are more susceptible to the disease, as well as the development of new methods to detect COVID-19 infections and therapies to treat the disease.

Craig Newmark Philanthropies, San Francisco, CA | $1 Million

The Anti-Defamation League has announced a two-year, $1 million grant from Craig Newmark Philanthropies in support of its Center on Technology and Society, which produces the Online Hate Index. "We know that the pandemic has had an outsized impact on vulnerable minority groups, including Asian Americans and Jewish Americans who are now being blamed and scapegoated online for creating and spreading the virus," said Newmark. "Now more than ever, it is vital to invest in innovative approaches to detect and stop hate speech from spreading online."

Roddenberry Foundation, North Hollywood, CA | $1 Million

The Gladstone Institutes have announced a $1 million commitment from the Roddenberry Foundation to its President's Coronavirus Research Fund in support of critical experiments by virologists working to understand the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Projects under way at Gladstone include the development of a diagnostic device using novel CRISPR technology, explorations of ways to block the entry of the virus into human cells, investigations of existing FDA-approved drugs as treatments, and the creation of a research hub to support the study of live virus.

Rosenberg Foundation, San Francisco, CA | $550,000

The Rosenberg Foundation has announced a first round of rapid response grants totaling more than $550,000 to organizations working to protect populations hardest hit by the health and economic impacts of COVID-19. Grants were awarded in the areas of mass incarceration ($260,000), farm worker rights ($150,000), and immigrant rights ($140,000). Grantees include Reform LA Jails, the Dolores Huerta Foundation, and the California Immigrant Resilience Fund.

John and Mary Tu Foundation, Fountain Valley, CA | $2.5 Million

The University of California, Irvine has announced a $2.5 million gift from the John and Mary Tu Foundation in support of COVID-related patient care at UCI Health as well as clinical and translational research focused on new ways to test for and treat infections. Half the gift will support physicians, nurses, and other caregivers at UCI Medical Center working to provide cutting-edge care, while the remaining $1.25 million will support research on both COVID as well as longer-term solutions to pandemic diseases.

COLORADO

Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, Denver, CO | $1 Million

Bonfils-Stanton Foundation and the Denver Foundation have launched a COVID-19 Arts & Culture Relief Fund with commitments of $1 million and $50,000, respectively. To be administered by the Denver Foundation, the fund is aimed at helping small and midsize arts and culture organizations in the Denver area survive the public health crisis. Other early contributors to the fund include Denver Arts & Venues ($205,000), the Gates Family Foundation ($100,000), and PNC ($10,000).

Morgridge Family Foundation, Denver, CO | $1 Million

The Morgridge Family Foundation has announced a second commitment of $1 million in emergency relief funding for nonprofits working to address the impacts of the coronavirus on vulnerable populations. A second round of grants will be awarded to fourteen community foundations and United Way partners, which will regrant the funds to a hundred and fifteen local nonprofits.

CONNECTICUT

Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Family Foundation, Stamford, CT | $1 Million

The Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Family Foundation has pledged to match donations up to $1 million in support of efforts at Norwalk Hospital to care for COVID-19 patients and to boost the hospital's emergency preparedness. Donations will be matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis through September.

FLORIDA

Bailey Family Foundation, Tampa, FL | $350,000

Tampa General Hospital has announced a $350,000 gift from the Bailey Family Foundation in support of its COVID-19 response. The funds will help pay for testing supplies, personal protective equipment (PPE), and other virus-related equipment as the hospital prepares for long-term care needs related to COVID-19 and other emerging infectious diseases.

Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Venice, FL; Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, Sarasota, FL | $2.7 Million

The Gulf Coast Community Foundation, in partnership with the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, has announced grants totaling $2.7 million in support of COVID-19 relief and response efforts in the region. Grants totaling $1.1 million were awarded through the COVID-19 Response Initiative, a joint effort of the two foundations, to nonprofits providing virtual mental health counseling for children and veterans, child care for first responders, and emergency food and financial assistance for displaced hospitality workers, foster families, and others.

ILLINOIS

Multiple Foundations, Chicago, IL | $425,000

The Robert R. McCormick Foundation, in collaboration with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur, Richard H. Driehaus, Polk Bros., and Field foundations and the Chicago Community Trust, has announced forty-eight grants totaling more than $425,000 to media organizations working to disseminate information about COVID-19. The collaborative Journalism Fund awarded grants of up to $10,000 to a number of local outlets, including TRiiBE, which engages African-American millennials online and via social media; Cicero Independiente, which is using Facebook to engage Spanish-speaking residents in Berwyn and Cicero; and South Side Drive magazine, which has been working to marshal and direct resources to the city's hard-hit South Shore community.

IOWA

Iowa West Foundation, Council Bluffs, IA | $500,000

The Iowa West Foundation has announced an additional commitment of $500,000 to the Southwest Iowa COVID-19 Response Fund, a partnership between IWF and the Pottawattamie County Community Foundation, boosting its total contribution to $1 million. Recent grant recipients include Boys and Girl Club of the Midlands ($25,000), the Council Bluffs Schools Foundation ($27,000), Lutheran Family Services ($25,000), and the Performing Arts & Education Association of Southwest Iowa ($5,430).

MARYLAND

Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Baltimore, MD | $7.5 Million

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation has announced commitments totaling $6.5 million in support of COVID-19 relief efforts in the United States and Israel. The funding includes $4.5 million set aside for anticipated COVID response grants in Chicago, Hawaii, New York City, northeastern Pennsylvania, and San Francisco; $1 million to the newly formed COVID-19 Response Funding Collaborative of Greater Baltimore; and $2 million to nonprofits in Israel through a partnership with the Foundations of Bituach Le'umi, Israel's National Insurance Institute. The latest commitments boost to more than $11.5 million the foundation's COVID-19 emergency support for people experiencing poverty.

MINNESOTA

McKnight Foundation, Minneapolis, MN | $190,000

The McKnight Foundation has announced grants totaling $190,000 in support of communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Grants include $100,000 to the Headwaters Foundation for Justice for its Communities First Fund, which supports African Americans, Indigenous peoples, and other people of color impacted by growing social, political, and economic disparities, as well as organizations working to address increased xenophobia toward Asian Americans; $50,000 to the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation's Minnesota Homeless Fund, which supports efforts to increase shelter space and critical resources for people experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity; and $40,000 to the Transforming Minnesota's Early Childhood Workforce, a statewide multi-sector coalition focused on increasing compensation, training, and resources for early childhood educators.

MISSISSIPPI

Women's Foundation of Mississippi, Jackson, MS | $55,000

The Women's Foundation of Mississippi has announced rapid response grants totaling $55,000 to nonprofits and programs focused on assisting vulnerable families and women, many of whom are essential workers, who were living at or below the poverty level before the public health emergency and have been disproportionately impacted by the virus. Eleven nonprofits received funding to provide PPE, mental health support, and wraparound services for students, including the Cary Christian Center, Hinds Community College, the Magnolia Medical Foundation, and the Mississippi Low-Income Childcare Initiative.

NEW JERSEY

Princeton Area Community Foundation, Lawrenceville, NJ | $50,000

The Princeton Area Community Foundation has announced that the Fund for Women and Girls, a field-of-interest fund at the foundation, has donated $50,000 to PACF's COVID-19 Relief & Recovery Fund to address urgent needs in Mercer County. To date, a total of $2.1 million has been raised for the fund, which is focused on supporting low-income families, single mothers, and children struggling with food insecurity, uncertain health care, and lost income as a result of the public health crisis.

NEW YORK

Clara Lionel Foundation, Brooklyn, NY | $3.2 Million

A group of funders led by Rihanna's Clara Lionel Foundation and Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey's #startsmall has committed $3.2 million in support of COVID-19 response efforts in Detroit and Flint, Michigan. The grants — some of which were matched by the Stadler Family Foundation, the David Rockefeller Fund, and the Sean Anderson Foundation — will fund comprehensive solutions ranging from food distribution and foster care to bail relief, temporary shelter, and social support services.

Grantmakers for Girls of Color, New York, NY | $1 Million

Grantmakers for Girls of Color has announced a $1 million commitment in support of efforts to address the impacts of the coronavirus on girls and gender-expansive youth of color. The Love Is Healing COVID-19 Response Fund will award grants of up to $25,000 to nonprofits and coalitions led by womxn or girls of color, with a focus on COVID-19-related advocacy and immediate mapping needs; economic and educational response strategies; interventions in support of systems impacting youth or survivors of gender-based violence; and preventive or responsive mental, physical, and emotional health strategies.

Edward W. Hazen Foundation, Brooklyn, NY | $2.8 Million

The Edward W. Hazen Foundation has announced that it is fast-tracking $2.8 million in grants to twenty-four nonprofits responding to the COVID-19 crisis in communities of color. Originally scheduled to be awarded this summer, the grants will support parent- and youth-led organizing efforts around issues such as equity in public school funding, ending the police presence and punitive discipline policies in schools, and securing affordable housing for low-income families. The grants are part of a nearly five-fold increase in funding compared with the foundation's spring 2019 docket.

Willem de Kooning Foundation, Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Cy Twombly Foundation, New York, NY; Teiger Foundation, Livingston, NJ | $1.25 Million

The Willem de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Teiger, and Cy Twombly foundations have partnered to establish an emergency relief grant program to provide $1.25 million in cash assistance to workers in the visual arts in the tri-state area experiencing financial hardship as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency. To be administered by the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), the fund will award one-time unrestricted grants of $2,000 to freelance, contract, or non-salaried archivists, art handlers, artist/photographer's assistants, catalogers, database specialists, digital assets specialists, image scanners/digitizers, and registrars.

Henry Luce Foundation, New York, NY | $3.1 Million

At its April meeting, the board of the Henry Luce Foundation awarded $3.1 million in emergency grants in support of fields and communities the foundation has long supported and approved requests to reallocate more than $1.75 million from existing project budgets for salary or general operating support at its grantee institutions. The twenty-three emergency grants include awards ranging between $60,000 and $250,000 to support staff salaries at small and midsize museums in Santa Fe, Tulsa, Portland (OR), Asheville, and Phoenix; a grant of $250,000 to the American Indian College Fund to enable instruction at tribal colleges to continue remotely during the pandemic; and grants of various sizes to emergency funds established by the Modern Language Association, the American Academy of Religion, and Xavier University in Louisiana. The foundation expects to award more emergency grants in May.

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, New York, NY | $1.76 Million

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has announced grants totaling $1.76 million to sixteen historically black colleges and universities to help stabilize enrollments for the upcoming academic year. The grants of $110,000 per institution will be used to help students pay for their technology needs, ease financial strain due to tuition and housing costs, and pay for essential travel.

NORTH CAROLINA

Joseph M. Bryan Foundation, Greensboro, NC | $200,000

The Joseph M. Bryan Foundation has awarded $200,000 to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina in support of its COVID-19 relief efforts. The funds will be used to purchase six truckloads of food boxes for families and seniors in the greater Greensboro area. According to Second Harvest, local organizations that work with the food bank across eighteen counties are seeing increases of between 40 percent and 60 percent in the demand for food assistance.

Duke Endowment, Charlotte, North Carolina | $3.5 Million

The Duke Endowment has announced a $3.5 million grant to Feeding the Carolinas, a network of ten food banks serving more than thirty-seven hundred charities in North and South Carolina, in support of efforts to meet increased demand due to COVID-19. Due to declines in volunteers and retail donations as a result of the public health emergency, Feeding the Carolinas expects to spend between $1 million to $2 million a week on food purchases for the next six to eight weeks.

PENNSYLVANIA

Heinz Endowments, Pittsburgh, PA | $2.3 Million

The Heinz Endowments has announced a second round of emergency grants totaling more than $2.3 million to Pittsburgh-area nonprofits working to protect the health of frontline workers and address the basic needs of vulnerable families and individuals. Part of a special $5 million emergency fund approved by the endowments' board in response to urgent community needs resulting from the pandemic, the awards include three grants totaling $610,000 for the purchase of laptops for students who do not have access to computer technology; $250,000 to Allegheny Health Network in support of mobile COVID-19 testing units in underserved communities; and $250,000 to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

Pew Charitable Trusts, Philadelphia, PA | $6.8 Million

The Pew Charitable Trusts has announced grants totaling $6.8 million over three years in support of thirty-eight nonprofits serving vulnerable adults in the region whose needs have been exacerbated by the public health emergency. Grants were focused in three areas: helping adults who are experiencing homelessness, survivors of domestic violence, and those with significant behavioral health or substance use issues achieve independence and stability in their lives; helping those with limited work skills obtain employment; and using evidence-informed approaches to improve behavioral health outcomes.

Presser Foundation, Philadelphia, PA | $1.3 Million

The Presser Foundation has announced grants totaling $1.3 million to eighty-five music organizations in the greater Philadelphia area, including $521,250 in general operating support grants aimed at helping the organizations weather the COVID-19 emergency. Recipients include the Academy of Vocal Arts, the Chester Children's Chorus, Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz & Performing Arts, and Trenton Music Makers. The remaining $795,000 will support capital projects at music-presenting, -performing, and -education organizations.

TEXAS

Episcopal Health Foundation, Houston, TX | $11.6 Million

The Episcopal Health Foundation has announced a $10 million plan to help address the long-term impact of COVID-19, including a grant program, an emergency loan fund, and a research project. The grant program will help current grantees and partners continue their operations during the public health emergency, with a focus on those directly involved in COVID-19 response and serving disproportionately affected populations, while the loan fund will offer two-year zero-interest loans of up to $1 million. The foundation also announced a first round of grants totaling $1.6 million from a previously announced $10 million commitment to address the long-term impacts of the coronavirus. Grants were awarded to twenty-three current grantees, including nonprofit clinics and organizations serving low-income Texans, behavioral and mental health organizations, rural health centers, nonprofits assisting with enrollment in health and other benefit programs, and groups working in the area of early-childhood brain development.

George Foundation, Richmond, TX | $1.3 Million

The George Foundation has announced grants totaling $1.3 million in support of nonprofits serving Fort Bend County residents impacted by COVID-19. The total includes $195,500 to help fifty organizations continue serving their communities while observing social distancing guidelines and more than $1.1 million to twenty nonprofits providing critical services, with a focus on meeting the increase in basic needs, including food assistance and rent and utilities assistance.

Kinder Foundation, Dallas, TX | $1 Million

The Houston Food Bank has announced a $1 million grant from the Kinder Foundation to help feed families impacted by the coronavirus. As a result of job and income losses caused by the virus, the food bank has had to ramp up distribution to between 150 percent and 200 percent of pre-pandemic levels, or between seven hundred and fifty thousand and a million pounds of food a day.

Moody Foundation, Dallas, TX | $1.475 Million

The Moody Foundation has announced a second round of grants totaling $1.475 million in support of nonprofits providing food, shelter, PPE, computers, rent assistance, employment, education, and physical and mental health services across Texas. Grants include $675,000 in support of nine Dallas-area organizations; $500,000 to eighteen nonprofits in Austin, Georgetown, Round Rock, Fredericksburg, San Marcos, and Marfa; and $300,000 in support of the City of Galveston and four Galveston County organizations. In March, the foundation awarded a first round of COVID-related grants totaling $1 million in support of Austin-area nonprofits.

WISCONSIN

Bader Philanthropies, Milwaukee, WI | $1.4 Million

And Bader Philanthropies has awarded grants totaling $1.4 million to nonprofits in southeastern Wisconsin providing on-the-ground services in response to COVID-19, the BizTimes reports. Recipients include crisis resource center IMPACT, which is using its $100,000 to add three employees; 4th Dimension Sobriety; Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin; Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers; and the Parenting Network.

_______

"Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Continues Rapid Response to COVID-19 Crisis With Additional $2.9 Million in Emergency Grants." Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Press Release 04/29/2020.

"New Single-Cell Technologies Help Scientists Understand COVID-19 Disease Progression." Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Press Release 05/08/2020.

"Hewlett Foundation Awards $10 Million to Silicon Valley Community Foundation for Bay Area COVID-19 Relief." William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Press Release 05/07/2020.

"Our First Steps to Deploy More Than $3 Million in Immediate Response." Imaginable Futures Blog Post 05/05/2020.

"ADL Receives $1 Million Grant from Craig Newmark Philanthropies to Detect and Measure Online Hate Speech." Anti-Defamation League Press Release 04/29/2020.

"Roddenberry Foundation Donates $1 Million to Support Gladstone COVID-19 Research." Gladstone Institutes Press Release 05/08/2020.

"Rosenberg Foundation Announces COVID Related Rapid Response Grants to Fight Mass Incarceration and Protect Immigrant and Farmworker Rights." Rosenberg Foundation Press Release 05/13/2020.

"Tu Foundation Gives $2.5 Million to UCI to Support COVID-19 Patient Care, Research." University of California, Irvine Press Release 05/11/2020.

"The Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Family Foundation Pledges $1 Million to Match Community Donations for Emergency Needs at Norwalk Hospital." Norwalk Hospital Press Release 05/07/2020.

"Emergency Fund for Denver Arts & Culture Organizations Established; Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Donates $1 Million to Cause." Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Press Release 05/04/2020.

"The Morgridge Family Foundation Provides an Additional $1 Million in Emergency Relief Funding." Morgridge Family Foundation Press Release 05/05/2020.

"The Bailey Family Foundation Donates to Tampa General Hospital Amid COVID-19." Tampa General Hospital Press Release 05/06/2020.

"$2.7 Million in Direct Grants to Nonprofits for COVID-19 Relief." Gulf Coast Community Foundation Press Release 05/06/2020.

"New Journalism Fund Supporting Nearly 50 Local Media Organizations Providing Information About Covid-19 To Chicagoland Communities." Robert R. McCormick Foundation Press Release 05/07/2020.

"IWF Commits Another $500,000 to SWI COVID-19 Fund." Iowa West Foundation Press Release 04/03/2020.

"Total Foundation Emergency Support for Nonprofit Partners Now Exceeds $10.5 Million." Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation 04/30/2020.

"Weinberg Foundation Commits Additional $1 Million to Israeli Nonprofits as Part of COVID-19 Response." Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation Press Release 05/05/2020.

"More Covid-19 Response Grants and a New Video Highlighting Bright Spots." McKnight Foundation Press Release 05/13/2020.

"WFM Awards $55k in Rapid Response Grants." Women's Foundation of Mississippi 04/30/2020.

"Fund for Women and Girls Donates $50,000 to Princeton Area Community Foundation Relief & Recovery Fund." Princeton Area Community Foundation 04/30/2020.

"CLF Leads Additional COVID-19 Response Efforts in Michigan." Clara Lionel Foundation Press Release 05/07/2020.

"Grantmakers for Girls of Color Announces $1 Million to Address Immediate Impacts of COVID-19 on Girls and Gender Expansive Youth of Color." Grantmakers for Girls of Color Press Release 05/04/2020.

"Edward W. Hazen Foundation Fast Tracks $2.8 Million in Grants to Support Grantees Responding to Covid-19 Pandemic in Communities of Color."

"Tri-State Relief Fund to Support Non-Salaried Workers in the Visual Arts." New York Foundation for the Arts Press Release 04/28/2020.

"Luce Foundation Makes $3M in Emergency Grants to Support Communities and Organizations Affected by COVID-19."Henry Luce Foundation Press Release 05/12/2020.

"$1.76 Million in Emergency Grants Distributed to 16 Historically Black Colleges and Universities in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic." Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Press Release 05/13/2020.

"The Duke Endowment Awards $3.5 Million to Feeding the Carolinas." Duke Endowment Press Release 05/12/2020.

"Second Harvest Food Bank Receives $200,000 Donation From the Bryan Foundation." Winston-Salem Journal 04/30/2020.

"Heinz Endowments Announces Further $2.3 Million in Emergency Funding to Combat COVID-19 Crisis." Heinz Endowments Press Release 04/30/2020.

"Pew Announces $6.8M in Grants Supporting Philadelphia Region's Vulnerable Adults." Pew Charitable Trusts Press Release 05/04/2020.

"The Presser Foundation Announces Over $1.3 Million in a Special Round of General Operating and Capital Support Grants to Music Organizations." Presser Foundation Press Release 04/29/2020.

"Episcopal Health Foundation Targets Long-Term Focus in $10 Million COVID-19 Response Plan." Episcopal Health Foundation Press Release 04/28/2020.

"Episcopal Health Foundation Announces $1.6 Million in Grants During First Round of Funding for COVID-19 Response in Texas." Episcopal Health Foundation Press Release 05/13/2020.

"Messages on COVID-19." George Foundation Press Release 05/04/2020.

"Kinder Foundation Gifts $1 Million to Houston Food Bank to Feed Houstonians Impacted by COVID-19." Houston Food Bank Press Release 05/05/2020.

"Moody Foundation Commits Additional $300K to Galveston County COVID-19 Relief." Moody Foundation Press Release 05/05/2020.

"Moody Foundation Commits Additional $500K to Dallas-Area COVID-19 Relief." Moody Foundation Press Release 05/05/2020.

"Moody Foundation Commits Additional $675K to Dallas-Area COVID-19 Relief." Moody Foundation Press Release 05/05/2020.

"Bader Philanthropies Distributes $1.4 Million in Emergency Funding for Nonprofits." BizTimes 04/28/2020.

COVID-19 Is Prompting a Global Response From Impact Investors

May 13, 2020

Impact investing_610x308For most of us, the coronavirus pandemic is the first truly global crisis of our lifetimes. But while signs of progress against the virus have emerged from parts of Asia and Europe, infections and virus-related deaths continue to climb in the United States, and it seems as if large parts of the Global South are still in the early stages of their infection curves.

Our extensive webs of human connection are the proximate cause of the virus's rapid spread around the globe, highlighting, like nothing in recent memory, our global interconnectedness.

Ironically, those same links are also critical to the solution to the problem.

Across the impact investing community, COVID-19 is prompting a global response that those of us in the impact investing community have been proud to witness. Impact investors are doing what they do best: leveraging the power of finance to address the world's biggest challenges. It is already becoming clear that the ripple effects of the pandemic intersect with many of the goals impact investors have focused on for years: broadening access to affordable health care and housing, creating quality jobs, and building more sustainable agriculture and energy systems.

Among the hundreds of member organizations in the Global Impact Investing Network, tangible actions aimed at changing the course of the pandemic are unfolding. At the GIIN, we see those actions falling into three primary phases: a response phase, with a focus on immediate health and financial needs; a recovery phase, with a focus on rebuilding and tackling the social and economic impacts of the pandemic; and a resilience phase, with a focus on long-term systems change.

In many cases, impact investors are adjusting financing terms for existing investees as a first and immediate response. By making debt repayment terms more forgiving, impact investors are ensuring that social and environmental enterprises can continue to provide critical services — even as many struggle to overcome virus-related cash crunches.

Many impact investors also are offering bridge loans to their investees. Such loans are meant to help businesses cover expenses like payroll, rents, and other operational costs until emergency government aid arrives or consumer demand revives. Others in the GIIN network are expanding microfinance eligibility criteria and loan size, while still others are actively seeking out new investments that can help the world address the global public health emergency — proving, if nothing else, that not all liquidity has dried up.

Development banks across nearly all continents are issuing new bonds at a rapid clip. The proceeds will finance projects with broad COVID-related impacts. These projects are focused on things like improving the efficiency of healthcare systems, supporting the unemployed, and reducing friction in disrupted supply chains.

While we expect the near-term response by impact investors to the pandemic to grow in volume, actions by development finance institutions indicate that many in the impact investing community are thinking a step ahead to the medium-term investments needed to address a host of issues, including global under- and unemployment and inadequate health care, during the post-pandemic recovery phase.

As these efforts take shape, a central theme is becoming clear: in order to be truly effective, the global post-pandemic recovery will require the full spectrum of capital — from philanthropic to commercial. As things stand, we are seeing signs that blended-finance structures — long noted for their potential to bring different types of investors together to address urgent challenges — could rise to a new level of prominence. Such structures use philanthropic grants or concessionary capital to reduce investors' risk and catalyze the entry of larger pools of market-rate-seeking capital into investments with the potential to drive deep impact.

Just as we need to rely on one another more than ever during this crisis, we also need investors and grantmakers to work together as never before. But as we work together to respond to and recover from the impacts of the coronavirus, we must not lose sight of our longer-term goals. The crisis is laying bare deep inequities in our healthcare and financial systems and causing the most harm to those who were already the most vulnerable: the poor, the ill and elderly, minority communities, women and girls. As we strive to become more resilient in the years after the crisis has passed, we must do everything in our power to prevent those inequities from taking hold again.

Our collective efforts over the coming months are likely to shape the way we approach the biggest global challenges we face for decades to come — challenges such as the climate emergency, which, like COVID-19, ignore international borders.

Headshot_giselle_leungAs you begin, in the coming months, to chart your "new normal," I urge you to remain mindful of that broader perspective and to hold tight to a shared vision of a more just, equitable, and resilient future — and to invest in it.

Giselle Leung is managing director of the Global Impact Investing Network.

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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