[Sent via email Thursday, March 26, 2020]
Every day, you are on the front lines of fighting for change and supporting our neighbors and communities as we strive toward a vision of an equitable Washington region. The events of the last several weeks, and likely those for the many months ahead of us, reinforce why your work is so important. You are more needed than ever.
As we navigate the uncertainties and anxiety of where we are and what lies ahead, we want you to know that you have our support. We have simplified and streamlined our grants application and reporting processes to give you the flexibility you need right now. We’re also working with our funder colleagues to support collective efforts across the region that will address critical emergency needs for individuals, neighborhoods, small businesses, and communities.
We want to share with you our initial response to the challenges we know you’re facing, with the promise that we will continue to identify additional ways to support your work in the coming weeks and months. The most important thing is that we will, at a minimum, maintain our overall funding level from 2019. We have also identified a number of ways to alleviate the burden on our grantee partners, while simultaneously supporting several key collective efforts to address the most urgent needs of our communities. We are working to balance the absolute imperative to help address immediate needs while remaining deeply committed to and invested in supporting work to change the systems failures that continue to create those needs.
Automatic renewal of your 2019 grant for 2020 and acceleration of payments: If you received a general operating support grant from Meyer in 2019 — other than those that we identified as final or transition grants — we will automatically renew your grant in 2020 at the same level as 2019. You do not need to submit an Interest Form, proposal, or report. If you need to receive the funding earlier in the year than you typically would have, or if you have a current multi-year Meyer grant and would like to receive your 2020 payment earlier than scheduled, please contact Grants Management.
Conversion of project grants to general operating support and release of other restrictions: We recognize you need maximum flexibility at this time. A small number of you received project support in your last grant. If you are a community-based nonprofit, you will have the option to reclassify that grant as general operating support for the duration of your grant period. Your Partnerships and Strategy Director also welcomes a conversation about revisiting any grant objectives, timelines, and terms with you.
Suspension of grant reporting and other requirements: In 2020, you will not need to formally report on your grants to the Meyer Foundation. We know your time is better spent attending to the needs of your family, organization, and community. Again, please reach out to your Partnerships and Strategy Director about revisiting any grant objectives, timelines, and terms.
Helping to shore up your systems and capacity: We know that many of you were not prepared to work in this environment of “social distancing” with extended periods of working from home, and that you’ve experienced dramatic changes in operations and revenue. We want to provide resources to support your technology, fundraising, human resources, and other needs to help you get through this difficult time. If you are able, we would appreciate your filling out this short survey to give us a sense of the challenges you are facing and how we might support your efforts. We can’t promise to meet every need, but the information we get from this survey will help us to focus our resources on areas where the need is most pressing right now. Please note, we will be focusing all our capacity-building cohort programs this year on addressing capacity needs that stem from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to supporting our grantee partners, we know that many people, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations are struggling to survive as a result of COVID-19. We are committed to working in partnership with and supporting the collective emergency response efforts of the Greater Washington Community Foundation’s Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund and the United Way of the National Capital Area’s Emergency Assistance Fund, as well as the efforts of emerging funds 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 wake. Through these efforts, we will be 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 move forward, we are continuing to identify in partnership with our board other strategies to assist our grantee partners, the people you support, and our community more broadly. We will keep you informed as those plans develop. We all must recognize that no single organization, no single funder, no single 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.
Kari Den Otter
Nadine Duplessy Kearns
Jane Robinson Ward