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COVID-19 Relief Awards: Commonwealth Fund Staff Respond

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Commonwealth Fund staff and grantees have taken several steps to realign our work. Since March, we have deployed rapid-response polling, expanded surveys in the field, and performed new research and analysis — all in an effort to listen to those on the front lines and inform state and federal policy audiences, health system leaders, and the public about the challenges we are facing and potential strategies to address them.

In addition to this work, we have made emergency grants to support community-based organizations here in New York City that are providing essential services for the city’s most vulnerable residents. We understand these organizations are a crucial partner in providing services to protect and support our sickest and highest-risk residents, alongside our medical community. With all staff working from home, we decided to tap funds that had been allocated for travel and redirect them to provide emergency grants.

In just over a week, a group of Fund staff solicited nominations from other staff members, compiled a list of local organizations, fielded an all-staff survey, and awarded grants to the top four. In a time when we hear daily about the devastating loss of life and stress on the health care system, we are uplifted by the heroic work of our community-based organizations and gratified to be able to help the following four through COVID-19 Relief Awards:

  • For 20 years, AIRnyc’s community health workers have helped people manage chronic conditions and connect them to social services. During the pandemic, they’ve been helping people stay home and healthy by connecting with them via phone, video, and text and delivering food, medications, and other vital supports. Each community health worker has more than doubled the number of people they serve.
  • Brooklyn Community Foundation, which since 2009 has provided grants to more than 300 nonprofits throughout the borough, has launched the Brooklyn COVID-19 Response Fund to provide immediate and longer-term resources to service organizations that support homebound residents, low-wage workers, and other vulnerable populations.
  • City Meals on Wheels is acting as the designated emergency responder for the city’s seniors — not only delivering meals but checking on the well-being of older adults. The Fund’s grant will help serve 22,000 elders who typically get their breakfast and lunch at senior centers, in addition to their regular group of 18,000 homebound elders.
  • God’s Love We Deliver has ramped up production of medically tailored meals to people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other serious illnesses, with the goal of sending 1,000 more meals per day by June. Meanwhile, they are delivering emergency meal bags so that all 4,600 of their clients have multiple weeks of shelf-stable food.

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