Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Provides $50 Million to Support Those Facing Greatest Strain Under the COVID-19 Pandemic
Princeton, N.J.—The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) will provide $50 million in immediate short-term relief to several national and community organizations to help some of the families and communities feeling the greatest strain under the COVID-19 health emergency. This includes $5 million for relief efforts in RWJF’s home state of New Jersey, hit particularly hard by the virus.
As the nation’s largest health philanthropy, RWJF is focused on ensuring that everyone in America has a fair and just opportunity for health and well-being. The aim of this funding is to help communities that already face daunting health challenges navigate the additional burdens of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Foundation’s Board of Trustees approved using the funds to help address immediate needs such as food, housing, and income assistance for some of the nation’s most stressed communities, including lower-income workers, communities of color, indigenous communities, and people with disabilities.
Across the nation, service organizations are working to the limits of their capacity to help those most in need. RWJF will distribute $50 million in emergency support among groups that serve national, tribal, and local populations. The national organizations and projects include:
- Feeding America—Providing healthy food to food banks and pantries across the nation.
- Meals on Wheels—Delivering meals and checking in on 2.2 million seniors, people with disabilities, and other isolated individuals in communities across the nation.
- National Domestic Workers Alliance—Providing emergency assistance for qualifying home health care workers, nannies, and house cleaners currently facing financial hardship. Many are people of color and immigrants who may not qualify for federal or state aid.
- One Fair Wage—Providing cash assistance to tipped workers, gig workers, lower-wage health aides, and service workers who may have lost their jobs, have had shifts cut, or must stay home for safety. Many are young people and immigrants who may not qualify for federal or state aid.
- Catholic Charities—Providing short-term economic relief and advocacy for social services at the community level, regardless of religion, for individuals unlikely to qualify for federal stimulus dollars.
- National Day Laborers Organizing Network—Providing farm workers and other day laborers, many of whom are immigrants, financial support and safety-net resources they may not otherwise be able to access.
- NDN Collective—Distributing resources to groups providing essential services to Native American communities disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 crisis because of inadequate health care infrastructures and historically deficient economic support.
- Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition—Led by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, this group works with more than 800 local, state, and national partners to prioritize the shelter and housing needs of the lowest income people in impacted areas.
In RWJF’s home state of New Jersey, funds will support:
- The New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund—Launched by First Lady Tammy Murphy and hosted by the Community Foundation of New Jersey, the Fund will address the medical, social, and economic impact of COVID-19 on New Jersey’s most vulnerable people, supporting organizations that provide essential services and aid to those on the front line of the pandemic.
- Investments in several locally-based community philanthropies managing pandemic relief funds. These include the Community Foundation of South Jersey, the Princeton Area Community Foundation, the Northern New Jersey Community Foundation, the United Way of Greater Newark, and the United Way of Northern New Jersey.
- New Jersey Health Initiatives—Supporting response in small New Jersey communities and portions of the state with less access to charitable funds.
- Fair Share Housing Center—Organizing a diverse coalition to monitor COVID-19 relief funding, and addressing discriminatory practices that deny low-income families access to safe, decent, and sanitary housing.
- New Jersey YMCA Alliance—Advocating for the needs of the childcare workforce serving the children of health care and other frontline workers.
- Mental Health Association in New Jersey—Providing remote counseling services, and advocating for mental wellness policies.
“During this pandemic we are seeing how important it is that everyone has access to high quality health care. Millions do not. Health is also about making sure people have the ability to feed, house, and take care of themselves and their families,” said RWJF President and CEO Richard Besser. While RWJF is providing this immediate aid during this moment of crisis—and encourages others to do the same—its primary focus and strategic work remains unchanged: seeking long-term policy and systemic solutions that address the grave health inequities in America.
“Unfortunately, in our society being able to live a healthy life can depend in large part on how much money you make, where you live, and the color of your skin,” Besser said. “This crisis is making an already unfair system even worse, and that is completely unacceptable. It’s critical that we make real and lasting improvements through community action and public policy in the months and years to come. Otherwise, the world’s richest nation will have failed its people.”
About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
For more than 45 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are working alongside others to build a national Culture of Health that provides everyone in America a fair and just opportunity for health and well-being. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at www.rwjf.org/facebook.
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