This is an unprecedented and tumultuous time, for our families, our country, and our sector. 

On Tuesday, March 17th, I shared the below note with our grantee partners on how our Foundation is responding to COVID-19 both internally and externally. Since then, we have also signed the Council on Foundations’ Commitment During COVID-19 Pledge alongside 40+ (and growing) foundations across the country and the world. Now more than ever is a time for us to work together to collectively meet the immense challenges that face us, our grantees, and the world.

My note to grantees: 

I’m writing to you in this unprecedented time to provide additional information on how our Foundation is responding to this crisis both internally and externally. Our focus is on ensuring our people stay healthy and that we meet our commitments to our grantees in the most efficient and impactful way possible.
Our team has been working from home since last week to aid in New York’s efforts at social distancing. Additionally, with schools closed, we have offered parents and anyone who needs it more flexibility in their work hours and schedule. If you have experienced delays in response from our Foundation, please know that we’re doing the best we can under the circumstances.
We understand that, for most of you, work and life has drastically changed in the last few days. Your staff may be working reduced hours, your beneficiaries are likely experiencing unique situations, and your services probably need to be provided in different capacities than before. We know each of you is navigating this time differently based on your work and business models, and we hope to do what we can from our end to support your organization during this time of uncertainty. As such, we aim to remain as steady as possible in our planned grantmaking and to provide you additional flexibility and support when needed. Here are our current plans:
  1. Move restricted dollars to GOS for programmatic grants where possible. Your Foundation contact will reach out if your grant qualifies for this change.
  2. Be flexible with grant goals, ensuring we prioritize what is realistic given school closures, event cancellations, and social distancing. Your Foundation contact will reach out to you individually to assess the situation and brainstorm options.
  3. Reduce the reporting, monitoring, and evaluation burden. Your Foundation contact will reach out individually to share options moving forward. 
  4. Continue current funding schedule for planned renewals as much as possible, with reduced reporting burden. Please reach out to your Foundation contact if you believe moving your renewal to an earlier timeline would be helpful.
  5. Continue planned giving for benefits/fundraisers whether or not the event takes place.
  6. Continue to identify and diligence early and growth-stage opportunities as long as the organization is willing and able to engage in diligence at this time. 
We want to thank you again for the work you do for families, students, and children, especially those of you who are directly working with those most impacted by the crisis. Your work has never been more important than now. We are proud to be your partners and hope to support you as much as possible during this incredibly difficult time.
In the meantime, we look forward to continuing to support you and the important work you do. Please look out for further communication on the areas listed above from your Foundation contact in the next several days.

Now more than ever is a time for us to work together to collectively meet the immense challenges that face us, our grantees, and the world.

In the following days, our program staff is following up with all grantees and developing plans on how to best support them. Some grantees may need to pause their work, while others find their virtual and digital services more in-demand than ever before. We are remaining flexible and nimble in these conversations, focusing on what our grantees and their beneficiaries most need in this time of crisis. 

As a Foundation, we have also committed additional funds to Robin Hood’s Rapid Relief Fund to support under-resourced and vulnerable New Yorkers and are working with our New Jersey partners and fellow grantmakers to identify the best ways to support COVID-19 efforts in the state. 

We remain optimistic about the future, and realistic about the challenges that face us in the days, weeks, and months ahead. We must all do our part in ensuring that we eliminate this virus as quickly as possible, and we ask that you please continue to follow the CDC’s guidelines about hand washing and social distancing to keep everyone safe.

-Anu Malipatil

VP, Education