We seek to help people at a critical moment with a need triggered by an emergency. Our hope is that this assistance will make a difference in someone’s life with lasting impact.

The primary way that we offer assistance is by making grants to social service and other organizations (including colleges), whose staff then applies strict criteria and distributes grants averaging approximately $1,000. It is important that the organizations that receive our grant offer additional support services.

We focus on programs that work directly with individuals one-on-one. The majority of our Helping Hands grants go toward rent, particularly needed in the primary areas where we fund – New York City, Boston, and Palm Beach County – where there is not enough affordable housing. We also help with expenses such as utilities, transportation, moving, furniture, or clothing that an individual is temporarily unable to pay for because of an unexpected hardship.

We may make a limited number of grants to programs that connect individuals to additional community resources.

“I remember being a young person working in New York and reading the newspaper one morning. There was a terrible tragedy: a house had burned down and put a family out on the street, a mother and her young children. They had no money and no place to go. I said to myself, ‘I would love to be able to write a check and give it to that mother sitting on the street.’ That is the ultimate meaning: helping someone in terrible need. That’s what we’re trying to do – to make an impact at a critical moment.” - LOUIS V. GERSTNER, JR.

Our Grantees

Major Helping Hands Grants

Grants listed below may be from the Gerstner Family Foundation or another Gerstner family philanthropic vehicle. Amounts may reflect cumulative annual grants or multi-year grants. To see annual amounts, please see listings of grants paid each year.

  • Adopt-A-Family

    Lake Worth, FL | Visit Website

    To support the Housing Stabilization Program.


  • The Bridge Fund of New York

    New York and Westchester, NY | Visit Website

    To support the emergency cash grant/loan program to prevent homelessness.


  • FamilyAid Boston

    Boston, MA | Visit Website

    To support the emergency cash grant program.


  • Good Shepherd Services

    New York, NY | Visit Website

    To support the emergency cash grant program.


  • The Havens Relief Fund Society

    New York, NY | Visit Website

    To support the emergency cash grant program.


  • Part of the Solution

    Bronx, NY | Visit Website

    To support the emergency cash grant program.


  • Safe Horizon

    New York, NY | Visit Website

    To fund the Emergency Client Assistance Program.


  • Sanctuary for Families

    New York, NY | Visit Website

    To support the emergency cash grant program.


    To support the Economic Empowerment Program.


  • SUNY Student Emergency Funds

    New York State

    To support student emergency funds at several colleges and universities across New York State.


  • Treasure Coast Food Bank

    Fort Pierce, FL | Visit Website

    To support the mobile food pantry program and SNAP outreach.



AB and her two children entered AVDA’s emergency shelter after fleeing her abusive partner. She was pregnant, unemployed, and afraid of what would come next. After settling in for a few days and receiving supportive counseling and assistance with emotional safety planning, she enrolled her children in daycare and attended a few courses that would help her secure employment. After securing employment, she found an apartment, and with the help of Gerstner funds towards her move-in costs, she was able to move into her new home, prepare for the arrival of her newborn and live violence-free with her children.

Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse

Helping Hands News