We want to take a moment to acknowledge our 2020 nonprofit partners who certainly proved their mettle during this turbulent year.
Their response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been nothing short of remarkable as they adapted their programs to remain open, meet changing needs, and fill gaps in services. When the landscape shifted (pretty much weekly), these tireless agencies overhauled their plans and protocols, again and again, to keep everyone safe. And they did so without skipping a beat. We didn’t speak with a single agency leader who hesitated to offer new or expanded services because of the added workload or expense. “We’ll figure it out,” they told us while scrambling to keep staff on board and healthy. Kudos to all of you!
In April, like many of our colleagues, we scrapped our funding plans for the year and agreed to focus on COVID-19 related grants. At first, we had no idea what that meant but it quickly became clear that getting food to the families who were struggling the most was where our dollars should go.
The majority of our grants were directed to local food pantries through two rounds of funding, one in April and a second in August. Other funds were distributed to agencies whose primary mission does not include feeding people but who recognized a dire need and their unique capacity to fill it. We supported nonprofits who distributed essential basic supplies, like toiletries and paper goods; agencies who opened their doors to offer child care to front line health care workers, and others who moved their vital mental health services to a virtual format (or socially-distanced driveway/parking lot therapy sessions) so clients would not face the overwhelming stresses of 2020 alone.
In April, we also promised to maintain our multi-year grant commitments and offer “supplemental” assistance to shore up some of our long-time grant partners.
(See the List of 2020 grant partners here.)
Mid-year, all of us tried to come to grips with the murder of George Floyd and the resurgence of energy to address racial inequities. The disparities were glaringly evident in how Black, Brown, and low-income communities were suffering disproportionately from the virus. As an organization, we have begun our own internal work around social and racial justice. In the meantime, 28 local nonprofits are taking advantage of our summer Racial Equity & Inclusion mini-grant program to begin or accelerate their own review process and develop a vision and action plan.
To end the year, we wanted to address the mental health needs of children impacted by the “double pandemic.” Our Youth Emotional Well-Being grants asked grant partners, “What more can we do to protect and nurture the emotional well-being of our kids during these unprecedented times?” We were pleased to support 12 agencies with funding for new and expanded mental health programming.
Our role in responding to the pandemic has been small compared to that of our nonprofit partners. They are the glue that has kept the social safety net intact. We appreciate all the calls, Zoom sessions, and email updates they shared with us. Their stories and insights exposed the on-the-ground needs of the region so that together we were able to support those most vulnerable.
We also want to put in a plug for the philanthropic affinity groups and foundation colleagues who helped support small-staffed organizations like ours with workshops, town meeting-style conversations, and a wealth of resources that helped us navigate the shifting landscape. Thank you!
Looking ahead, we anticipate our grantmaking in 2021 will look more like 2020 than 2019. We recognize that we won’t be going back to business as usual and that’s OK. What we will be doing is reviewing our plans on a regular basis (which in 2020 meant weekly) and “pivoting” along with everyone else to respond thoughtfully and effectively.
We hope our nonprofit partners will continue to reach out to us and let us know how we can help.
On behalf of all of us at the Sudbury Foundation, Happy Holidays! Stay safe and be well!
Posted on December 21, 2020