Philanthropy’s Response to COVID-19 and Inequalities 

In a Viewpoint published on July 23, 2020 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the president of the Ford Foundation, Darren Walker, connects the disproportionate impacts on low-income communities and communities of color from COVID-19 with broader inequities and racism in our economy, policing and other systems. He calls on philanthropic and other wealthy organizations to meet these tumultuous times with larger and ever more generous contributions. “[F}oundations also are obligated by law to improve the economic and political systems that created the imbalance of wealth. Today, at this moment of unprecedented, intersecting crises, this obligation has never been greater, or more important. Foundations have the responsibility to take real and meaningful action.” He notes, for example, the Ford Foundation’s recent and groundbreaking move to finance one billion dollars in grant-making through the sale of bonds, and other major foundations are taking similarly unusual steps. “This is only the beginning. If the ultimate goal is to build a better, fairer society for all, other industries and sectors also must think and act creatively. Influential individuals and institutions in other systems and arenas must take their own bold steps toward justice.” He also argues for similarly new approaches across sectors: “What if substantially resourced private hospitals could consistently dispatch physicians, other clinicians, protective gear, and medical equipment to cash-strapped clinics in rural areas? What if thriving, affluent school districts redistributed classroom resources to neighboring schools desperate for funds? What if global corporations with large profit margins injected capital directly into locally owned shops and restaurants, particularly in communities of color?” Read the full Viewpoint here.