Philanthropy has a critical responsibility during the COVID-19 pandemic to deploy its flexible funding to strengthen our most vulnerable communities. Our current COVID-19 grantmaking focuses on vaccine equity, addressing systemic barriers and disparities to increase vaccine access in communities throughout Africa and our home state of California.
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. We continue to provide additional support for many of our existing partners as they adapt and respond during this unprecedented time.
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
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. 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.
Additional general operating support funds were designated for existing partners across many of our program areas to adapt and respond to the pandemic.
Staff Support and Office Closure
We temporarily increased our Employee Matching Gifts Program in 2020 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.