Supporting Regional COVID Relief Efforts

The Dyson Foundation’s board met for its quarterly meeting on March 24, 2020, when the impact of the pandemic on communities in the Hudson Valley was still very much unknown. It was clear, however, that the impact would be great, and the board approved $500,000 in new grant funds in response to the pandemic. These dollars, in addition to funding from the Foundation’s other grants programs, were distributed in a targeted manner.

The new COVID relief funding was awarded primarily as general operating support to about 40 key human service providers around the region, from small community centers to large multi-purpose providers, to help them respond in whatever ways were needed. A sampling of grantees that received funding includes Family of Woodstock, Family Services, Grace Smith House, Hudson River Housing, CoveCare Center, and Community Action of Greene County. Several grants were specifically focused on food security, including grants to the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley, Dutchess Outreach, and Grace Episcopal Church in Middletown. Some grants were specifically aimed at bridging the digital divide as work and school moved to remote platforms, including grants to the Worker Justice Center of New York, Nubian Directions, and the Poughkeepsie Alliance. An additional $275,000 was granted to Vassar Brothers Medical Center to purchase essential personal protective equipment in the early days of the pandemic.

To supplement grants made directly to organizations for COVID relief, the Dyson Foundation joined many other funders and donors to support pooled funds administered by the region’s United Ways and community foundations who nimbly granted funds where they were needed most. Pooled grantmaking funds the Dyson Foundation supported included those held at the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan, Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley, United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region, and United Way of Ulster County. Almost $2 million was quickly deployed by these grantmakers in emergency relief to seven counties to help people access food, shelter, mental health services, medical services, legal services, childcare, prevention of domestic and child abuse, personal protective equipment, clothing, hygiene items, prescription drug deliveries to seniors, internet access and computers to ensure students could learn remotely, and more.

The Dyson Foundation also contributed to pooled technical assistance funds raised by the community foundations listed above and the Westchester Community Foundation, which will be used by the New York Council of Nonprofits (NYCON) to assess a nonprofit’s needs and craft a plan for either organizational or mission survival. These funds have totaled more than $300,000 and will support a nine-county service area as represented by the funders in the Hudson Valley Funders Network.