Gerstner Philanthropies COVID-19 Response

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  • Helping Hands Program Update: COVID-19 and Q1 Trends
    May 21, 2020

    Our Helping Hands grantee social services organizations are on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis. We communicate with our Helping Hands grantee organizations informally throughout the year, and each quarter we ask them to report formally on program statistics, trends, and case studies. The effects of the pandemic only began to show at the very end of the quarter, but we have already identified some interesting trends, such as an increase in need for food and a decrease in the demand for rental assistance.

    Read the Helping Hands Q1 Trend Report
  • Domestic Violence Calls Mount as Restrictions Linger: ‘No One Can Leave’

    Americans have been cooped up at home for months to slow the spread of the coronavirus, many of them living in small spaces, reeling from sudden job losses and financial worries. Children are home from school in every state in the country. That confinement has led to another spiraling crisis: Doctors and advocates for victims are seeing signs of an increase in violence at home. They are hearing accounts of people lashing out, particularly at women and children. “No one can leave,” Kim Foxx, the chief prosecutor in Chicago, said in an interview. “You’re literally mandating that people who probably should not be together in the same space stay.” The problems have only deepened since stay-at-home orders were first imposed.

  • Who Has Enough Cash to Get Through the Coronavirus Crisis?

    Even before Covid-19, many Americans were living check to check, because of the costs of housing and child care, student debt payments, medical bills and the rest. Fewer than half of American adults — just 47 percent — say that they have enough emergency funds to cover three months of expenses, according to a survey conducted this month by the Pew Research Center. In the coronavirus’s wake, those without savings may also be losing their jobs, leaving them with little to support their families other than the CARES Act relief from the government, help from charitable groups or GoFundMe or Venmo tip jar campaigns. This won’t be enough to save many families from ruin.

  • Former IBM CEO Supports First-Generation Students
    April 27, 2020

    In a moment when preserving and expanding affordability and access are pressing concerns for colleges and universities everywhere, former IBM CEO Louis V. Gerstner '63 has established a scholarship program at Dartmouth that will benefit high-achieving, low-income students with a demonstrated interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. "Too many hard-working, talented teenagers do not make it to the best colleges and universities," he says. The new scholarship program will help Dartmouth attract students who are the first in their families to attend college and offer them the opportunity to receive a distinctive liberal arts education. The Louis V. Gerstner Jr. Scholars program, made possible by a $4.8 million gift, will support four undergraduates in each of the next four incoming classes, building to a full cohort of 16. The first four Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. Scholars will be named this spring.

  • Renters Are Being Forced From Their Homes Despite Eviction Moratoriums Meant to Protect Them
    April 22, 2020

    Millions of people in America are under shelter-in-place orders requiring them to stay home whenever possible, but a growing number don’t have that luxury. Their landlords are kicking them out for not paying the rent, despite moratoriums on evictions in more than 30 states and dozens of cities. Though at least 39 states have announced some form of eviction moratorium, and dozens of cities have banned utility shutoffs in response to COVID-19, there are ways for landlords to push out tenants. Only nine states have banned landlords from sending eviction notices to tenants, according to Emily Benfer, a visiting associate clinical professor of law at Columbia Law School. Tenants who receive such notices may get nervous and move out, even if they’re protected by a moratorium, says Benfer, who has worked with other attorneys to compile a database of state and local eviction policies during COVID-19. The CARES Act passed by Congress in March prohibits evictions for 120 days, but it only applies to renters in properties secured by federally-backed mortgages, which account for one in four rental properties, according to the Urban Institute. That leaves most tenants dependent on state or local laws to avoid illegal evictions. Only Connecticut has in place a grace period that gives tenants extra time to pay back rent after that state’s eviction moratorium ends. That means that once courts across the country re-open, there will be a flood of evictions, says Alieza Durana of the Eviction Lab at Princeton University, which maintains a national database of evictions.