Robin Hood, New York City’s largest poverty-fighting organization, has awarded more than 500 COVID-19 relief grants in support of the highest-need communities across all five boroughs of New York City. The Robin Hood Relief Fund was reactivated at the onset of the pandemic, making its first grant on March 20, in the opening days of the stay-at-home order before any direct government assistance was distributed to New Yorkers.
In 19 weeks, Robin Hood has distributed $35.5 million in support of 432 frontline nonprofit organizations with a focus on funding cash assistance, emergency support, and food distribution. The Robin Hood Relief Fund prioritizes those New Yorkers who remain left out of federal aid responses, such as low-income children and families, immigrant communities, college students and low-wage workers. The grants have closely tracked the neighborhoods most adversely affected by COVID-19 with the majority of grants going to the Bronx and Queens, the two boroughs with the highest rates of infection, hospitalizations and mortality.
“COVID-19 is exposing systemic racial and economic disparities that have plagued New York City and our nation for generations. The lingering effects of COVID-19 continue to leave New Yorkers in dire circumstances. With so many out of work, people are struggling to feed themselves and their families, or keep a roof over their heads. This virus threatens to leave communities of color, seniors, children, immigrants and low-wage workers severely disadvantaged long after this crisis ends,” said Wes Moore, CEO of Robin Hood. “Robin Hood’s relief efforts continue to serve as a lifeline for hardworking and vulnerable families. We are committed to continuing to elevate New Yorkers beyond the emergency as we look to the city’s long-term recovery and create measurable and lasting mobility from poverty.”
Nearly half of the Robin Hood Relief Fund grants provide cash assistance for low-income New Yorkers to cover necessities like food, rent and utilities. A quarter of the grants support emergency services, including connecting New Yorkers to benefits, purchasing personal protective equipment, installing Wi-Fi at homeless shelters and expanding and improving remote learning.
About 17% of the grants fund emergency food programs, ranging from food pantries and soup kitchens to meal delivery services and the temporary repurposing of restaurants for food prep. Relief grants have also helped to support medical and mental health services and programs that support housing, safety and education for vulnerable New Yorkers.
“As we observe the milestone of awarding more than 500 relief grants, we are humbled by the tenacity of our frontline community partners who feed, house and care for New Yorkers in need,” said Victoria Bjorklund, Robin Hood board member and chair of the relief committee. “We somberly reflect upon the loss of lives and the impact those deaths have had on families, loved ones and our city, and we are buoyed by the generous spirit of the people of New York City who are unwilling to be defeated and determined to help neighbors in need.”
Robin Hood continues to spearhead advocacy and capacity-building initiatives to alleviate the pandemic’s impact on the city’s neighborhoods and its nonprofit sector. Robin Hood is advocating at all levels of government for policies that will protect the most vulnerable New Yorkers and the nonprofits supporting them, including the extension of unemployment assistance, expansion of food aid benefits and the inclusion of undocumented immigrants in federal relief programs.
During the pandemic, Robin Hood partnered with corporations, lenders and capacity-building vendors to provide operational support to nonprofits, including Paycheck Protection Program application processing, pro-bono consulting, resource-sharing and webinars on topics ranging from fundraising to governance.
Outside of the Robin Hood Relief Fund, the organization continues to lead in partnership on initiatives to expand the impact of relief efforts. As part of this effort, Robin Hood partnered with the Debra and Leon Black Family, Aramark, the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and the American Red Cross to launch the NYC Healthcare Heroes program to deliver food and supplies to healthcare professionals on the frontlines citywide. Additionally, Robin Hood contributed to the NYC COVID-19 Response and Impact Fund alongside other notable funders to support the city’s nonprofit sector.
Beyond the Robin Hood Relief Fund, Robin Hood hosted the Rise Up New York! virtual benefit on May 11, which brought together New York City's biggest musicians, actors, chefs and more to raise funds for the long-term recovery for New York City. More recently, Robin Hood announced The Power Fund, which aims to address systemic racism by investing in capacity building and leadership for CEOs of color in the nonprofit sector.
The Robin Hood Relief Fund benefits from the generous contributions of nearly 10,000 individual donors, family and legacy foundations, and corporations. Robin Hood’s Relief Committee will continue to meet and allocate relief grants on a weekly basis until the Relief Fund has been distributed in full. Robin Hood continues to consider the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on New York City and how the organization can continue to elevate the community through the pandemic’s aftermath.
Editor's Note: This press release was provided by a company unaffiliated with NonProfit PRO. The views expressed within do not directly reflect the thoughts or opinions of NonProfit PRO and its staff.