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.
United Neighborhood Houses (UNH) provides programs and support for its 45 member settlement houses (neighborhood-based social services organizations), such as professional development, advocacy, and peer learning. UNH members are located across all five boroughs of New York City, offering case management and comprehensive services to diverse communities. In 2019, Gerstner Philanthropies partnered with UNH to pilot a new leveraged model for the Helping Hands program in which funds are granted to UNH to subgrant to selected member organizations and manage the administration. Due to the initial success of the model with five organizations, Gerstner Philanthropies and UNH expanded the program to provide grants to 16 organizations in 2020 and provided additional funding to them in 2021. The most recent grant was for $1,500,000 in 2022, and expanded the partnership to include 26 settlement houses. The program has enabled Helping Hands to reach new communities with support totaling over $3 million. To learn more, please visit unhny.org and view the list of organizations funded through the UNH model here.
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.
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To support the OneSource Design Competition to enhance plastic recycling.
Pia was injured when she was attacked by an unknown assailant and was unable to work for a month. When she reported the assault to her local precinct, the desk sergeant introduced Pia to a crime victim advocate with Safe Horizon’s Crime Victim Assistance Program. After reporting the crime, Pia connected with Safe Horizon’s Crime Victim Assistance Program and shared that she would be unable to pay her rent because of lost income while recovering from her injuries. Thanks to a Gerstner Helping Hands Program, Pia was able to pay her rent and recover in peace without worrying about falling into arrears. Pia is now back at work and very grateful for the one-time assistance to help her through such a difficult time