Government stay-at-home orders created widespread economic distress among millions of displaced workers. Almost as fast as the economic shutdown washed away their pay, however, donors across the country sprang into action. Many givers who had never before considered small emergency cash grants began to offer them. Small cash gifts to otherwise self-sufficient parties battered by a cruel twist of fate are one of the oldest forms of philanthropy. Emergency grantees are not long-term recipients whom a donor can get to understand over time. They require snap assessments of which cases are most worthy, and how best to aid them. As plenty of givers who have tried quick-cash distribution in the past can attest, faulty judgment in dispensing cash can encourage bad behavior, waste money, and even delay necessary adaptations by households. On the other hand, intelligent, compassionate action can prevent a temporary stumble from turning into deep trauma. Fortunately, there are donors who have been at this kind of work for years, including the Gerstner Family Foundation. “I think people often shy away from doing direct-cash assistance because in the foundation world it’s seen as non-strategic, not getting at a root cause,” says Kara Klein of the Gerstner Family Foundation. “But in my mind, it’s one of the most strategic things you can do—to help a family stay in their home and out of a tumble into economic instability.”Read more at philanthropyroundtable.org
The Diocese of Palm Beach Office of Catholic Schools is the proud recipient of a grant from the Gerstner Family Foundation that supports scholarships for high school students who exhibit high academic achievement, service and leadership. This past school year, 54 students were honored as Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. Distinguished Scholars at Cardinal Newman High School, John Carroll High School and Saint John Paul II Academy. The scholarships were awarded through an application process, which required the recipients to write a letter to Mr. Gerstner sharing with him their experiences from the past year. To highlight the resilience and positive attitudes of these students, the Office of Catholic Schools will be starting a special initiative on July 1, 2020 titled, “Have Faith, Our Future is in Good Hands!” For the next three weeks, the Office of Catholic Schools will highlight profiles from various Gerstner Distinguished Scholars from Cardinal Newman High School, John Carroll High School and Saint John Paul II Academy.Read messages from Gerstner Scholars here.
Columbia University's Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons have selected this year's cohort of Louis V. Gerstner Jr. Scholars. The group includes four physician-scientists at the college and a fifth physician-scientist has been named a 2020 Louis V. Gerstner Jr. Merit Awardee. The Louis V. Gerstner Jr. Scholars Program annually supports tenure-track physicians who conduct research that has the promise to bring new treatments to patients. The fund provides a stipend of $75,000 per year, for up to three years, to support the awardees’ research projects. Scholars are nominated by a committee of distinguished research faculty and selected by the VP&S dean. The program has named scholars every year since 2008. The program also presents the Gerstner Merit Award to an outstanding third-year Louis V. Gerstner Jr. Scholar who has made great strides in research.Read more at columbia.edu
The United States, already wrestling with an economic collapse not seen in a generation, is facing a wave of evictions as government relief payments and legal protections run out for millions of out-of-work Americans who have little financial cushion and few choices when looking for new housing. The hardest hit are tenants who had low incomes and little savings even before the pandemic, and whose housing costs ate up more of their paychecks. They were also more likely to work in industries where job losses have been particularly severe. Temporary government assistance has helped, as have government orders that put evictions on hold in many cities. But evictions will soon be allowed in about half of the states, according to Emily A. Benfer, a housing expert and associate professor at Columbia Law School who is tracking eviction policies. “I think we will enter into a severe renter crisis and very quickly,” Professor Benfer said. Without a new round of government intervention, she added, “we will have an avalanche of evictions across the country.”Read more at nytimes.com
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