By Abigail Westbrook, Special Assistant to the Founder and CEO,
The Atlantic Philanthropies
With our U.S. offices located in New York City, Hurricane Sandy hit close to home. It impacted our New York-based grantees, our staff and our office building. In the aftermath of the storm, Atlantic’s Board and staff were committed to supporting the relief and recovery work, but we were unsure how best to contribute.
As a global grantmaker with little experience in disaster relief, we set out to better understand both the short- and long-term community needs. We also wanted to support one or more organizations whose mission and philosophy were aligned with Atlantic’s values. After conducting due diligence, we were pleased to recently provide a $250,000 grant to the North Star Fund, New York’s community foundation supporting grassroots groups, to contribute to its Hurricane Relief Fund and the Alliance For A Just Rebuilding, which is focused on organizing and advocacy efforts.
North Star responded quite rapidly—its first round of grants to local organizations were made two weeks after the storm—and continues to fund communities most impacted and, in many cases, under-resourced and overlooked by traditional relief efforts. Our support of the Relief Fund will allow North Star to make another round of grants to small community organizations that were impacted by the storm and continue to provide recovery services.
We also recognized, through the extensive documentation after Hurricane Katrina, the importance of advocacy in recovery efforts. The Alliance seeks to learn from the mistakes made post-Katrina and to increase the amount of federal dollars allocated to the rebuilding effort and to ensure that the money is both well-spent and supports communities that are traditionally overlooked in disaster relief efforts.
We felt that the Relief Fund’s support for current relief efforts combined with the Alliance’s commitment to ongoing advocacy with and on behalf of vulnerable residents were appropriate ways for Atlantic to contribute to addressing the needs of underserved communities throughout the Sandy recovery process.