Staten Island after Sandy: A Funder Update

By Betsy Dubovsky, Executive Director, The Staten Island Foundation

As a Philanthropy New York member, I’m looking forward to this year’s Annual Meeting as an opportunity to connect with colleagues and reflect on what’s been happening in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

For those of you that don’t know us yet, The Staten Island Foundation is a private foundation established in 1997 to improve the quality of life on Staten Island. Since our founding, we have provided over $50 million to hundreds of local nonprofits and developed strong relationships and knowledge of the local ecosystem. We partner with the local community, nonprofit, public and private sectors to help ensure this vibrant, diverse community — especially its least advantaged — has access to the resources necessary to maximize its potential. With a results orientation, we view our grants as investments in change, the measure of changed lives for a better community.

Staten Island’s shore neighborhoods were some of the most severely impacted in the region by Hurricane Sandy. The entire 7-by-14-mile Island has suffered a multitude of serious challenges following the storm. Local service organizations have been on the front line assisting residents, despite the fact that many of these same organizations and their staff members are also storm survivors. We are grateful for the outpouring of support in many forms from organizations and individuals across the city and the nation to assist in our community’s recovery.

We’re entering this post-storm relief and recovery period with deep understanding of the current operating landscape. Almost 20 percent of the Foundation’s grantees — who provide critical direct service, capacity building and community outreach — were either physically located in the hardest-hit areas or provide services to those who are, and have been directly impacted by the storm. The storm has affected almost all of the borough’s nonprofits indirectly, however, and continues to make its presence felt across the Staten Island community as we come together in this difficult time. So we are partnering with organizations and networks across the borough to champion and deliver vital support for leadership development, technical assistance, community visioning and collective impact coalition building.

In short, needs are still emerging and the work ahead is daunting. And we’re just at the beginning. But we are committed to making Staten Island stronger than ever.

Here’s a question to my fellow grantmakers: Do you have disaster fatigue? Has interest in funding here faded? What can we do to truly and effectively engage you in this urgent work? I invite you to contact me directly to explore how we might work together. And to introduce yourself at the Annual Meeting! I look forward to seeing you there.

2 Responses to “Staten Island after Sandy: A Funder Update”

  1. 1 Brian Byrd April 12, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    Betsy makes a very good – yet understated – point about how the work is just beginning in areas hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy. According to the seminal report released by the Conrad Hilton Foundation, within the first two months following a disaster, more than two-thirds of private giving is completed. Six months following a disaster, almost all giving ends. We see this scenario playing out in New York City in which several major funders have stopped their giving as of this month – six months after Sandy hit.

    When you couple this with the Rand Corporation’s estimates that it will take more than 11 years for communities affected by Hurricane Katrina to recover, you get a true sense of the enormity of the work that lies ahead, and the importance of maintaining long-term commitments to post-Sandy disaster recovery and rebuilding efforts.

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