“It’s risky to paint 8.8 million New Yorkers with broad strokes. But as we face year three of grantmaking during a pandemic, I think it’s safe to say we’ve all been profoundly affected by COVID-19.
As the city’s community foundation, our job is to make grants that recognize the breadth of the pandemic’s short-term impact while setting the course for a long-term recovery.
With the generosity of today’s donors, we’ve been able to say ‘yes’ to additional promising projects with our Emergency Fund. Over the last two years, we’ve combined the $6.8 million contributed to the Fund with $11.2 million from permanent legacy gifts to make 90 grants. The Fund is an example of the power of community philanthropy: combining the passions of today’s donors with the wishes of yesterday’s and then deploying trusted staff to identify current needs and effective nonprofits.
Grants from the Fund initially addressed urgent needs: improving emergency food distribution throughout the city and supporting efforts such as Community Tech NY’s work to increase access to high-speed internet in neighborhoods where it meant the difference between attending school or not.
Some grants addressed recovery with a commitment to a more just future. We helped the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center train immigrant women in the Bronx to start small businesses after losing their jobs. And a grant to the Workers Justice Project successfully advocated for better pay and working conditions for those who delivered food throughout the shutdown and afterward.
The Fund also lets us apply the lessons of COVID-19 to plan for the future. Long Island University is training frontline health workers, primarily pharmacists, to use telehealth to care for more people. A grant to the New York Alliance for Inclusion and Innovation is helping groups that serve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities plan for the next crisis.
Despite the immensity of the challenges created by the pandemic, my work gives me cause for hope: every day I connect the generosity of donors—those that left legacy gifts across the generations and those living today—with some of the most effective nonprofits helping my fellow New Yorkers recover and build a stronger, more equitable city.”