Responding to COVID-19
In response to the global coronavirus pandemic, New Venture Fund is moving quickly to serve the projects we host, our staff, our grantees, and the communities where we live and work. Even as we move our systems and processes online to help #FlattenTheCurve, we are continuing to operate at full capacity to support the essential missions of NVF projects across the country and around the world.
We’ve taken steps to provide support for the staff working across our projects, including providing guidance on leave and working remotely, and we are sharing weekly COVID communications as the situation evolves. We’re also convening the directors of our projects to allow them to share best practices and discuss challenges.
Additionally, NVF is taking proactive steps to quickly deploy resources to assist with both immediate and longer-term COVID-19 response efforts. We are standing up new projects focused on COVID-19, helping grantees respond to new realities, and streamlining processes to accelerate relief efforts.
Establishing rapid-relief funds: In recent weeks, NVF has helped to establish relief funds like the Oakland Fund for Public Innovation’s COVID-19 Relief Fund. These relief funds are streamlining donation and grantmaking processes to help rapidly mobilize resources to the most urgent community needs. The Oakland Fund is working with established nonprofit partners to quickly allocate resources to food, homelessness, community health, and economic security needs. NVF’s work has facilitated rapid-response grants and out-of-cycle payments and reduced other barriers to the fund’s operations. Community partners like Bay Area Community Services are already receiving support, in turn providing shelter and meals for those in need.
Similarly, NVF has helped the James Beard Foundation establish the JBF Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund. The fund is coordinating donations from corporate, foundation and individual donors to provide micro-grants of $15,000 to independent food and beverage businesses and their thousands of workers in need. NVF is facilitating donations to this fund so that these urgent micro-grants can ensure food and beverage small businesses are still standing post COVID-19.
Supporting existing projects as they adapt to new challenges: NVF is also helping many of the projects we host adapt their own work to respond to new challenges. For example, Youth First Initiative has mobilized quickly to communicate the risks COVID-19 presents to the population it serves–incarcerated youth, who are at higher risk during a public health crisis. Already, the initiative has worked with advocates all over the country to send information on measures needed to protect young people in custody from COVID-19 to governors in 36 states.
Another of our projects, the Alaska Venture Fund, which invests in a sustainable and secure future for all Alaskans, has mobilized resources to improve communication and guidance around social distancing: Caringiseasy.com provides free public health materials and graphics and encourages Alaskans to share via social media, increasing understanding about the importance of staying home to save lives.
And IllumiNative, another NVF project, received $25,000 in emergency COVID-19 funding to provide direct relief to Native peoples in Oklahoma. The project is using Visa gift cards to provide monetary assistance to individuals impacted by the crisis. The NVF project team worked with vendors to reduce fees and process orders quickly to get these gift cards into the hands of those in need in a short amount of time.
Accelerating and streamlining response efforts: To help accelerate COVID-19 response efforts, NVF’s operations team has rolled out a streamlined grantmaking process, to get funding into the hands of organizations that need it as quickly as possible for COVID-19 relief. The process can be used both for new funding received and for existing funding that has been reallocated by donors, and it can award funds within two weeks of receiving them from donors. To get funds out this quickly, we are simplifying application processes and reducing reporting requirements. Already, an NVF project has used the process to disperse multiple rapid-response grants to health clinics around the country to provide support during this critical time.
The New Venture Fund understands that we are all in this together and is eager to do all we can to help. We will continue to share resources and materials about how we’re responding, and we invite you to reach out with questions or to learn more about our work.