COVID-19: How we’re supporting our communities and partners in a time of crisis

April 10, 2020


In the midst of this unprecedented public health and economic crisis, I want to share the Meyer Foundation’s response and how we are supporting our communities at this time. We know the needs are enormous and that many of them can only be addressed at the scale of government – both through funding and policy change. But local philanthropy has a role to play, too, and we are committed to doing what we can to support our grantee partners, the people they are representing, and the growing needs in our communities.

This crisis – especially the emerging evidence that Black and Latino/a/x people are disproportionately represented in rates of COVID-19 infection and death – has put a glaring spotlight on the continued racial disparities in this country, and why a focus on eliminating systemic racism and its consequences is imperative. Our commitment to this long-term work is solidified and our approach to systems change remains the same. We recognize and are working to support the response to the most urgent needs this crisis has presented in our communities, while continuing our work for lasting solutions to the impact of systemic racism, including poverty and inequitable policies.

Our grantee partners are on the front lines of fighting for change and supporting our neighbors and communities every single day. Their work was vital before this crisis, and will be even more vital in its wake, as the events of the last several weeks have shown us. Our primary focus, therefore, remains on our partners and we want them to know they have our support. We have sought their input on the challenges their organizations and constituents are facing and are committed to supporting their work as they navigate this moment.

To that end, after much consultation with our partners and board, here is how Meyer will support this first phase of response to COVID-19 in Greater Washington communities.

Increasing Payout

Meyer’s board of directors approved an initial increase in our 2020 payout of approximately 20 percent over the level it approved coming into the new year. This increase, combined with a decision to re-deploy some of our capacity-building funding for 2020, will allow us to provide an additional $3.5 million to support our grantees and other partners in the community. In consultation with our board, we are allocating these funds to support increased funding, capacity building, and technical assistance for some of our current grantee partners, to support a number of our region’s collective COVID-19 emergency funds, and to ensure we are able to help address emerging gaps – such as the gap in access to support for undocumented people in our region, as well as the rise in anti-Asian discrimination and hate crimes.

Support for Current Grantee Partners

Recently, we shared with our current grantee partners our commitment to supporting their work and their constituents during this challenging time. As part of this commitment, we are currently unable to accept new requests for funding, as we focus intently on supporting our current partners. Some other ways we’re supporting our current grantee partners in this moment:

  • Current grantee partners with a general operating support grant (other than those we had previously identified as transitioned or final grants) will see an automatic renewal of their 2019 grant for 2020, and acceleration of payments upon request. No Interest Forms, proposals, or formal reporting required.
  • The small number of grantee partners who received project support now have the option to reclassify their grant as general operating support for the duration of their grant period.
  • Current grantee partners have the option of revisiting any grant objectives, timelines, and terms with our team to better fit their needs.
  • All our capacity-building support this year will be focused on addressing capacity needs that stem from the COVID-19 pandemic, including needs around digital organizing, financial and fundraising consulting, software, technology, and more.

Finally, we’re allocating resources for additional grants to our current grantee partners who have been doing and are continuing to do critical systems change work – work that, if previously achieved, could have helped mitigate this crisis and that we believe will improve outcomes for our communities far beyond this moment.

Support for Broader Community

In addition to directly supporting our grantee partners, we know that many people, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations are struggling to survive as a result of COVID-19.

The Meyer Foundation is committing $1 million toward supporting the collective emergency response efforts of the Greater Washington Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Response FundUnited Way of the National Capital Area’s Emergency Assistance FundACT for Alexandria’s COVID-19 Response FundArlington Community Foundation’s Prompt Response Fund, and the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia’s COVID-19 Response Fund for Northern Virginia, as well as the efforts of the Diverse City Fund, the Emergent Fund, and other mutual aid organizations with the specific purpose of supporting community organizers of color who are building resilience and power in divested communities in the midst of this pandemic and in its aftermath.

Through these efforts, Meyer is able to leverage our funding with that of many other donors in a more coordinated, streamlined effort to expeditiously support many people and organizations across the region.

As we press forward, we will continue to identify other strategies to assist our grantee partners, the people they support, and our communities more broadly. We will keep you informed as those plans develop.

The reality is that no single organization, funder, or even sector can address the enormous immediate needs that are exacerbated by the entrenched challenges our region faces. Without transformation within the systems that hold inequity in place, many people in our region will never have the opportunity to thrive, let alone withstand, a crisis such as the one we are in now. All our fates are inextricably intertwined. We have much work ahead of us.

In partnership,

Nicky Goren
President and CEO
Meyer Foundation