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Reinforcing New York’s Safety Net

April 2009

At the Forest Hills Community Center, after-school programs include environmental projects like beautifying local landscapes. Grants to United Neighborhood Houses help make sure these free programs are available to as many kids as possible.
The City’s nonprofits are being besieged by families who have never before asked for help—to pay rent, fight debt collectors, and apply for food stamps. They join the far too many New Yorkers for whom this economic crisis is a way of life. The burgeoning numbers, coupled with impending City and State budget cuts and shrinking corporate and private funding, are forcing many nonprofits to try and do a lot more with a lot less. In response, The Trust has made eight grants totaling $7,198,000 to shore up nonprofits helping people across the City.

Feeding More People

With people losing jobs every day, more families are turning to feeding programs. As the largest organization of its kind, Food Bank for New York City, Food for Survival collects and distributes food to more than 1,000 agencies throughout the City that provide meals to a million New Yorkers each year. Two-thirds of our $1,500,000 grant is helping the Food Bank collect 58 million pounds (6 million more than last year) of produce, meat, and other staples to feed the increasing number of hungry New Yorkers. The other third will go toward buying freezers, shelving, or toward compensating volunteers, ensuring that smaller feeding programs have the capacity to prepare, serve, and store this food.

A grant of $275,000 is supporting City Harvest’s work to redistribute 23 million pounds of produce donated by farmers, distributors, and food manufacturers. The group is coordinating with the Food Bank to get more fresh produce to the City’s emergency feeding programs. Unfortunately, illness, age, or disability prevents some seniors from traveling to these feeding programs. Citymeals-on-Wheels, a nonprofit founded in 1982 with a grant from The Trust, delivers hot and frozen meals to poor and homebound seniors on weekends and holidays, when the City-run Meals-on-Wheels program does not deliver. A grant of $500,000 will help continue this critical service.

Unlocking the Money

“In developing these grants, we looked at ways we could help effective groups provide the most service for the most people most efficiently,” said Joyce Bove, The Trust’s senior vice president of programs. “For example, our grant to the New York City Financial Network Action Consortium will provide financial counseling and unlock millions of federal dollars in Earned Income Tax Credits, food stamps, and other benefits for eligible New Yorkers, making our $560,000 grant go a very long way.” The Consortium is partnering with the Food Bank and the Women’s Center for Education and Career Advancement to provide these services at neighborhood sites.

Similarly, a $1.2 million grant to Legal Services NYC will support a partnership with the Legal Aid Society to expand legal services for New Yorkers. Agency staff will work with clients to determine eligibility for public benefits, Earned Income Tax Credits, or unemployment insurance. They will also deal with illegal debt collection and home foreclosures, and when all else fails, help people file for bankruptcy.

Keeping Services Running at Settlement Houses

For more than 100 years, the City’s settlement houses have opened their doors to immigrants and poor people. The 36 houses offer education, social services, job training, and recreation for people of all ages. Already serving more than 500,000 New Yorkers in some of the City’s poorest neighborhoods, they are facing an unprecedented increase in demand. A grant of $1,300,000 to United Neighborhood Houses of New York is helping to sustain early childhood and afterschool programs for youth, senior centers, adult education, and job workshops. In addition, the grant will enable the settlements to give out emergency cash to prevent evictions, and provide food for the hungry.

Helping Cancer Patients Pay their Bills

People with cancer are confronting mounting drug and health care costs. Even those with employer insurance face cuts in covered services along with higher premiums, deductibles, and copayments. Many newer cancer drugs are not covered by Medicaid and the elderly enrolled in Medicare can get stuck in a coverage gap in which they pay the full cost of all their drugs. With these problems exacerbated by the recession, Cancer Care has seen a significant increase in requests for help with medical costs. With an $850,000 grant, Cancer Care is paying for chemotherapy, radiation, and other treatment-related costs including pain medication, childcare, transportation, and home care for people who can’t afford it.

Providing Rent and Mortgage Relief to Stop Foreclosures and Evictions

Preventing homelessness, rather than coping with its aftermath, has long been a priority for The Trust. With more homeowners and renters facing foreclosure and eviction, a $1,000,000 grant will help the Bridge Fund of New York double the number of people it works with. This year, they will make small loans and grants to 700 families and refer an additional 3,600 for financial services and public benefits. To improve the prospects that families will remain in their homes, the Fund will hold bi-weekly money management workshops in multiple languages at various places around the City.

“These kinds of grants have always been a major part of our giving,” said Lorie Slutsky, The Trust’s president. “What’s different is that we have given significantly more money to agencies that have the ability to increase the number of people they help, but face a serious dropoff in private and public funding.”

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