Dear Victoria Foundation Friends and Grantees,
During this rapidly evolving COVID-19 medical emergency, we are taking steps to protect the health and well-being of our staff, grantees, community members and other partners. We share your concern and feel the anxiety that the uncertainty of this novel coronavirus is causing in our region, and the challenges it poses on the healthcare and other systems so many of us rely on.
Starting Friday, March 13th, Victoria staff began working from home in order to practice social distancing and reduce the speed and transmission of this virus in our community. We are adapting in-person meetings to phone or video conferencing where it makes sense and canceling larger group events.
Although we are not in the office, we are continuing to work. We have good systems in place to continue to process grants and send out checks. We know that the rapidly changing nature of this crisis and the dramatic ways it is touching all aspects of daily life will likely affect many of our grantees' ability to carry out planned work. It is our intention to be extremely flexible during these upcoming weeks, and we will try to be as responsive as possible to the needs of our grantees. We are encouraging our grantee partners to reach out to Victoria staff by email or phone with any questions or concerns.
In addition, Victoria Foundation is partnering with the Center for Non-Profits to conduct rapid response surveys of our grantees in order to learn what the impact is on these organizations and to determine how best to respond. We plan to send these brief surveys out every few weeks.
In terms of a philanthropic response to this crisis, local funders have begun conversations – individually and collectively (with support from the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers) – about how to best support our communities and the organizations that are on the front lines of addressing the impact of this pandemic. In the immediate short-term, the Newark-based United Way of Essex and West Hudson has initiated an emergency fund that we plan to contribute to as we explore additional avenues of deploying beneficial resources.
It is clear that this crisis will have a much greater impact on low-income and marginalized communities, highlighting the insidiousness of racial, economic, social and environmental injustice. As we continue the work connected to the 2020 Planning Year, our commitment to make systems and structures more equitable for everyone is only strengthened by what we have seen in the early days of this crisis.
We look forward to working in partnership with you,
Irene Cooper-Basch, Executive Officer
Frank Alvarez, Board President