New York philanthropic leaders discuss steps for a fair COVID recovery

View of New York City.
View of New York City.
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Philanthropic leaders discuss how the sector should approach New York’s recovery.

New York philanthropic leaders discuss steps for a fair COVID recovery

They support changing funding practices to place less burden on nonprofits and support more organizations led by people of color.
February 2, 2021

Top philanthropic leaders laid out the steps they’ve taken to support a fair recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic in New York and what else they’re looking to do in the future in a virtual event hosted by the New York City Employment & Training Coalition on Jan. 22.

Maria Torres-Springer, vice president for U.S. programs at the Ford Foundation, said that it was necessary for philanthropic organizations to take steps to ease burdens on nonprofits by offering unrestricted grants and long-term funding, explaining that “It means ending the practice of thinking about nonprofit organizations as contractors.”

Addressing systemic racism was also among the top issues she and Robin Hood Foundation CEO Wes Moore highlighted in the discussion. Robin Hood recently created the Power Fund initiative to support the works of nonprofit leaders of color combating poverty, after data showed that few philanthropic dollars go to organizations led by people of color.

“Not only did it show there are systemically biased and racist elements in the way we were thinking about our own funding, the reality is, it also didn’t make sense if you’re trying to solve the problem,” he said. 

Looking forward, Moore said, the philanthropic sector should focus on more innovative pilot programs and platforms. “We have to make sure that we have philanthropy and the public sector and public dollars that are coordinated and working together.” Torres-Springer also pointed to a need for cross-sector collaboration to address racial injustice in New York, saying, “Until we really tackle those issues, a lot of what we do will be good but we won’t be prepared for the next set of crises.”

NYN Media reporter Kay Dervesh
Kay Dervishi
is a staff reporter at NYN Media.