Philanthropy has a critical responsibility during the COVID-19 pandemic to deploy its flexible funding to strengthen our most vulnerable communities. At the onset of the pandemic, we responded rapidly in providing resources to organizations supporting individuals, especially youth, living in poverty and experiencing disadvantage in our local community of Los Angeles and around the world. Outside of our ongoing COVID-19 relief grantmaking, we continue to provide additional support for many of our existing partners as they adapt and respond during this unprecedented time.
Local Grantmaking Updates
Understanding the need to invest in the long-term recovery of our local community during and after COVID-19, we supported the “No Going Back” report by the Committee for Greater Los Angeles which provides new data and context about how the pandemic lifted the veil on structural racism in Los Angeles. By offering guiding principles to reinvent and reimagine a more equitable L.A., as well as a policy blueprint for systems change, we hope to work with partners to change the structures that have historically contributed to racial and economic disparities.
Photo by Steve Bitanga, courtesy of United Way of Greater Los Angeles
Additionally, alongside peer funders and state government in partnership with the Public Health Institute, we supported a statewide fund to help California interrupt and reduce the community spread of COVID-19 by strengthening the public health infrastructure of local counties. Building on what we are learning from the “No Going Back” report, this fund centers equity, the reality that COVID-19 disproportionately impacts communities of color, and the understanding that we need to engage people with lived expertise in developing solutions. The goals of the fund include enhancing contact tracing efforts, creating a new workforce opportunity for those facing unemployment due to COVID-19, and increasing public awareness and education.
Our Initial Response
When the pandemic began, our initial disaster response focused on supporting organizations responding to COVID-19. We then made another series of grants, about half of which went toward protecting the homeless population of Los Angeles, with the other half focused on supporting African countries prepare for a pending outbreak.
Elizabeth, SHOFCO employee and handwashing station attendant, shows proper handwashing technique to a Kibera resident. SHOFCO is operating 221 handwashing stations across 14 urban slums in Kenya, which serve as key access points for health awareness and distribution of informational pamphlets, soap and hand sanitizer.
Additional funds were designated to support existing partners in the following program areas as they adapt and respond to the global pandemic: Catholic Sisters, Foster Youth, Safe Water, Hospitality Workforce Development, and Young Children Affected by HIV and AIDS.
We also temporarily increased our Employee Matching Gifts Program for eligible nonprofits responding to COVID-19, gifting more than $96,000 to support a wide range of communities impacted by the pandemic. Grants were also awarded through discretionary funds or existing program budgets toward COVID-19 relief.
Our offices are temporarily closed while staff work remotely, and we have canceled or postponed all in-person gatherings in accordance with recommendations from public health officials. We will continue to follow these guidelines and recommendations closely to keep our staff, partners and communities safe during this unprecedented time.