New Yorkers are proudly parochial, but 2021 connected us to the rest of the world like never before. The pandemic and climate change had New Yorkers thinking globally and acting locally. For many, the stay-at-home isolation unlocked a rare moment of shared global human experience. The Trust’s generous donors and their dedicated professional advisors, alongside hard-working grantees are our own connected community.
This report highlights the many ways this community makes New York better for all. Our feature story looks at our history of improving the region’s healthcare, including our recent efforts to address the wide-ranging effects of COVID-19.
Throughout the pandemic, New Yorkers were challenged, but channeled their empathy into collective action. The Trust was proud to facilitate that connection for good and help neighbors help neighbors.
In 1976, The New York Community Trust made the most transformational decision in its storied history. It hired Lorie Slutsky as an intern. Best decision ever.
Now on the eve of her retirement as president, let’s look at how momentous that hiring decision 46 years ago was for the organization and the people who live and work in New York.
A few metrics for those of us in the field who like data: As president for the last 32 years, Lorie transformed the work of The Trust. Under her guidance, The Trust made more than $5 billion in grants and raised more than $4 billion; The Trust’s endowment quadrupled from $830 million to more than $3.5 billion.
As usual, the numbers do not adequately tell the story.
Lorie’s appointment as president of The Trust was a pioneering moment in philanthropy. Some will remember that her selection raised a few eyebrows. With few women at the helm of large foundations and driven by her passion for New York, Lorie embraced the challenge and dedicated herself to transforming this community foundation into a critical safety net organization for New Yorkers. She created opportunities for others: mentoring, guiding, wading into difficult situations where others turned away.
It’s been my privilege. . .
A phrase that I’ve used hundreds, if not thousands, of times in my 45 years at The New York Community Trust. But as I began to write my 32nd—and final—president’s message, I paused. What does it mean to be “privileged”?
The dictionary defines privilege as “a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available to only a particular person or group.” At The Trust, we are privileged to use our resources to make New York a more livable, equitable, welcoming, and vibrant city. We have the opportunity to support the compassionate and creative people and organizations who dedicate themselves to making the word “privilege” obsolete—expanding equal rights and advantages to all New Yorkers.
But far too often we fail to recognize our privileges—the advantages of being born into families with resources, citizenship, and living in neighborhoods with good schools, healthcare, supermarkets, parks, and safe streets.
For almost a century, The Trust has made grants that creatively and effectively confront the abiding problems that affect our city and prevent many New Yorkers from experiencing these benefits.
On May 31, 1889, 16-year-old Victor Heiser clung to the roof of his family’s stable as he watched a wall of water from a burst dam sweep away his home and parents during the Johnstown Flood. At that moment, Heiser would never have thought he would go on to save tens of thousands of lives around the world. Nor could he have imagined that when he died at age 100 in his adopted hometown of New York City, he would continue to help many more people for decades after his death.
The orphaned teen became a renowned doctor and public health official. He promoted practices around the world that staved off deadly diseases, preventing tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths. Because much of his life’s work involved treating leprosy, he asked The New York Community Trust in 1971 to create a legacy fund to help control and prevent the disease, stating, “lepers have so few friends.” Grants from the fund allowed researchers to map the genome for leprosy in the 2000s and, most recently, to study potential new treatments for the first time in close to 50 years.
See more content from the Annual Report.
Making Grants for Today and Tomorrow
Many of us started 2021 with a sense of optimism that newly discovered vaccines would end the COVID-19 pandemic. The Trust helped New Yorkers get vaccinated, but the virus proved resilient, and our grantmaking continued to meet the urgent needs created by the ongoing pandemic. At the same time, the program staff did what we always do: keep a focus on the region’s long-term challenges as we tackle short-term crises.
Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers struggled to feed their families in 2021. Trust grants not only helped distribute more food (including kosher and halal options) to respond to the immediate need, but also helped establish a food co-op in Bedford-Stuyvesant and strengthen the city’s system for distributing emergency food for the long run.
Join Us and Turn Your Assets Into a Force for Good
Together, we can make a powerful impact. Help New Yorkers recover from the pandemic, improve education, champion the environment, nurture the arts. Whatever your passion, we can help connect your charitable dollars with well-managed, effective organizations doing work that makes a difference.
You decide what to give, how much to give, and what to name your fund. We accept a wide variety of assets, and most funds can be started with a simple letter of agreement or a single paragraph in a will. You also can contribute a one-time or recurring gift to The Trust to meet urgent needs in the city.
Let Us Help You Help Your Clients
For almost 100 years, we have been a trusted partner to professional advisors, helping their clients make a charitable impact. We ensure their philanthropic priorities withstand the test of time and adapt to meet the challenges of the future.
We offer the tax benefits of giving to a public charity, customizable charitable solutions, and access to grantmaking professionals, philanthropic advisors, and investment services.
Meet The Trust’s Leadership
Twelve dedicated New Yorkers—selected for their judgment, integrity, and understanding of philanthropic needs—serve as both the Distribution Committee of The Trust and as the Board of Directors of Community Funds, Inc., our nonprofit corporate affiliate.