March 16, 2020
First, thank you to the nonprofit organizations and frontline providers who are doing critical work to inform, protect and advocate for communities hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. We recognize that groups are engaging in these efforts on top of their existing work in order to respond to community need. Organizations are facing financial uncertainty and strain in the midst of canceled fundraising events and general economic volatility. Many groups also may not have the privilege to work remotely or shut their doors given the nature of their programs and limits on their resources.
The Weingart Foundation is closely monitoring developments in order to best support our nonprofit partners and the communities they serve. This update outlines the latest in terms of our plans and operations. We’ll continue to share new information as the situation evolves.
In the absence of a vaccine and adequate testing capacity, public health experts advise us that the best way to counter the spread of the virus is “social distancing.” Dr. Robert K. Ross, President & CEO of The California Endowment and a board member of the Weingart Foundation, outlines why social distancing is so important in his recent blog post.
Therefore, effective immediately, our staff will be working remotely and switching all in-person meetings to video or phone conferences. We’ve canceled work-related airplane travel for the time being. We’ve also suspended convenings at Shared Space LA, in conjunction with our colleagues at The James Irvine Foundation.
All normal operations of the Foundation continue, and our transition to remote operations should be largely seamless from the perspective of nonprofits and other partners. You can contact Foundation staff by email and phone, and we will get back to you promptly—as is our ongoing commitment. Grant payments will also continue to be issued in a timely manner.
Flexibility for Grantees
Organizations need flexibility to respond to community needs as well as ensure the safety of their staff. As a reminder, Unrestricted Operating Support from the Weingart Foundation is completely unrestricted, and can be used to help nonprofits adapt and adjust during this time. For project-based grants, we welcome a conversation should you need to adjust grant goals, deliverables, or timelines. On a more limited basis, we can also consider requests to augment or accelerate approved grant payments, based on your individual circumstances. In all of these areas, or if you have any questions or concerns, we encourage you to reach out to your program officer.
The Weingart Foundation is working with key public agencies, colleague funders, and nonprofits to develop a swift and collaborative response to support communities, especially in low-income areas and among people who are homeless. I look forward to sharing more information on this soon.
Together for Justice
Taking responsibility for our collective well-being means caring for one another and showing compassion for those who are ill. While we create physical space between ourselves, we must also find ways to stay connected and strengthen community ties. This includes speaking out against anti-Asian xenophobia and racism. It also means thinking about ways to support our elderly, people with disabilities, and people with underlying health issues.
Unfortunately, risk of exposure to the coronavirus and the ability to recover depends largely on a person’s race, income, access to health care, and immigration status. More than ever, the pandemic shows that investments in our safety net systems and in community-based solutions matter. Worker and renter protections matter. Injustice is not only morally wrong, it increasingly threatens the health and safety of our entire society.
As we face this crisis together, let’s also support communities in calling for systemic change and a rebalance in power. That’s the best way to ensure our long-term wellness.
President & C.E.O.