2020 was a landmark year for Gerstner Philanthropies. Grants totaled over $27 million, the most in its history. 74 organizations were supported across our program areas, including 19 new grantees. We responded to COVID-19 by providing grantees with additional resources, flexibility, and other support, and we are proud of the impact that they achieved despite challenging circumstances. For more on our engagement and impact in 2020, please see the full Year in Numbers report.2020 Year in Numbers Report
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
The Gerstner Family Foundation has made the first installment of its $750,000 grant to Seton Education Partners to support the opening of two new Brilla Schools in the Bronx. Founded by Seton Education Partners in 2013, Brilla Public Charter Schools is a network of high-performing, classically-based charter schools located in the Bronx, NY. The network currently serves 940 students, 91% of whom qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Brilla, which means “shine” in Spanish, was founded on the conviction that schools should develop the whole child—mind, body, and spirit. For that reason, in addition to leveraging the best instructional practices such as technology-based learning, a co-teaching model, and a longer school year, Brilla implements a robust character education program centered around the four core virtues of courage, justice, wisdom, and self-control. In both ELA and math, Brilla was the third highest performing school out of all New York state elementary schools serving a similar demographic. Other funders of the project include The Facilities Investment Fund and Charter School Growth Fund.
Gerstner Philanthropies announced today that it has awarded $3.1 million to 18 social services organizations to be used for emergency grants to people in need. Gerstner made the grants as part of its Helping Hands program, and anticipates making additional grants this year for Helping Hands to bring the total close to $4 million. Emergency grants have been a core part of Gerstner’s work for over a decade, with grants for Helping Hands totaling almost $12 million. Approximately 12,000 households have been helped, primarily in NYC and also in Boston and Palm Beach County, Florida. The majority of emergency grants are used for eviction prevention, though funds may also be used for other urgent needs. The average emergency grant size is under $1,000. Gerstner’s recent round of grantmaking comes on the heels of the first Helping Hands convening, held in November 2019 assembling representatives from all of the organizations in the program to discuss challenges and innovations, share stories of impact, and brainstorm ideas for scaling emergency grantmaking.Read more at philanthropynewyork.org
On November 18, 2019 Gerstner Philanthropies hosted the first convening of its Helping Hands grantees. Representatives from all 28 grantee organizations gathered to share best practices, discuss and plan how to better tell the story of the program’s impact, and brainstorm new programs and ideas for advancing emergency grantmaking. “As a new grantee, this was very productive and helpful. I appreciate the approach to grantee input,” shared one participant in an anonymous follow-up survey. The event built community among Helping Hands organizations and offered the opportunity to network and collaborate. “We made some great connections with colleagues in Palm Beach and New York and are looking forward to follow-up conversations with them about our in-great-demand public schools prevention program,” said Larry Seamans, President of FamilyAid Boston. Gerstner Philanthropies looks forward supporting and to partnering with its Helping Hands grantees and implementing new ideas generated from the convening.