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How We're Responding to the COVID Crisis

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A note from our President

Dear friends and partners,

Our world is in a period of social, emotional and political upheaval. From the COVID-19 pandemic, to the global economic slowdown, to our nation’s reckoning on race, this year has been extremely challenging to us all.

Our focus at the Joyce Foundation has been to support our grantees and our communities, to take care of our employees, and to find ways in which we can do more to help eliminate the structural racial inequities brought to the fore by this moment.

Racial equity long has been at the core of our work. For decades, we have pushed for better educational outcomes, safer streets and neighborhoods, clean and affordable drinking water and access to the vote, for Black and brown communities. We have supported artists of color and arts organizations led by people of color in recognition of the vital role they play in leading their communities toward progress.

But we know we must do more.

As you know, several Chicago neighborhoods were left with significant damage after the recent protests over the murder of George Floyd. These are communities of color that were already reeling from the COVID-19 crisis. We knew we needed to step up in a new way to help our neighbors. So in addition to contributing to city and state COVID-19 funds, we created a $1 million special fund to assist with recovery efforts. We also created a foundation-wide task force, bringing together our program and administrative staffs to help direct how best to distribute those funds. In a moment in which the call for equity has never been louder, it was important that everyone at Joyce have a voice in our response.

The task force recently completed its first round of grants to nine groups that are providing vital support to Chicago communities. In this message, you can learn more about them and several other initiatives we have undertaken to help address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color.

We will continue to listen, learn and lean into this moment, as we work to respond to the challenges we face today while looking ahead to what we must do together to help create a future that is equitable and just for all.

Thank you for your partnership in this work.

Ellen Alberding
President
The Joyce Foundation

Since March, Joyce has taken the following steps to respond to the COVID-19 crisis:

Community recovery

We established a special fund, led by Managing Director of Communications Kayce Ataiyero, to direct $1 million to Chicago communities most affected by COVID-19 and the impact of racial unrest. The first round of grants, totaling $225,000, went to nine groups led by people of color that are working to provide direct relief to community, including food assistance, PPE, rent relief and small business recovery assistance:

Education equity

We contributed $250,000 to the Chicago Education Equity COVID-19 Response Fund, to address the medium and long-term COVID-19 challenges for Chicago schools, especially Black and Latinx students. Stephanie Banchero, director of Joyce’s education and economic mobility program, was instrumental in organizing the fund.

Broadband Access

We contributed $250,000 to “Chicago Connected,” a plan to provide free high-speed internet to an estimated 100,000 children in low-income households across the city.

City/state rapid response

We contributed $250,000 each to the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund and the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund. President Ellen Alberding is serving on the steering committee of both the city and state COVID relief funds, and Vice President of Programs and Strategy Darren Reisberg is serving on the state fund’s Grantmaking Working Group.

Support for the arts

We contributed $125,000 to the Arts of Illinois Relief Fund, managed and administered by Joyce grantees Arts Alliance Illinois, 3Arts, and Arts Work Fund. Joyce grantees received $348,000 in AIRF relief funds with subsequent rounds of funding still to come.

Grantee stories

We produced a storytelling project to highlight how grantees are stepping up, persevering and creating new paths forward through the crisis.

About The Joyce Foundation

Joyce is a nonpartisan, private foundation that invests in evidence-informed public policies and strategies to advance racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation in the Great Lakes region.

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