Metcalf Story
Important Update From the Metcalf Foundation

This message from Metcalf President and CEO Sandy Houston was sent on May 19, 2020 to members of our community. 

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

For many, this pandemic has been devastating – its impacts severe, unequal, and often unjust. We know Metcalf grantees, long-time partners, and sector-focused organizations are stretched and stressed, while still striving to do as much as possible.

Today I am writing to share news about a recent Metcalf Foundation Board decision. Like many of our philanthropic colleagues we will significantly increase the amount of money we will grant this year, contributing much needed additional resources to sustain the remarkable contributions of the non-profit sector. Our Board has approved $2 million in new funding and up to $1 million from our 2020 grants budget toward three strategies aimed at impacts of COVID-19: emergency response, sector- focused support, and forward-looking action. These funds are in addition to our existing grant programs and ongoing commitments. A substantial portion of this new funding will be released over the next two months, with the remaining budgeted for the latter part of 2020. Our goal is to release these funds quickly and efficiently. For the moment, this means that there will not be an open application process.

Unrestricted funding is more critical than ever for non-profit organizations. Emergency funds will be distributed to Metcalf grantees and long-time partners working in our program areas. Early funding priority will be given to our Performing Arts and Inclusive Local Economies programs, both of which have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic. Within this emergency envelope, we also intend to increase support for organizations working in our program areas who are led by and focus on equity- seeking communities, as we know they are disproportionately impacted by this crisis.

We believe that a healthy and empowered non-profit sector is fundamental to our society. Sector-focused funding will support umbrella, network, and other sector- wide organizations who are delivering important services to the non-profit community. These organizations champion sector needs and issues, produce timely sector analysis, and are generating widely accessible resources to aid non-profits in responding to COVID-19 and its ongoing impacts.

While emergency response funding and overarching sector support are priorities right now, the pandemic has spurred a realization among many that we must seize this moment to fundamentally re-examine the underpinnings of our society. There are a range of ideas, policies, and frameworks starting to address this critical question of what sort of country do we want to be when we emerge from the all-consuming present. Our forward-looking funding will support organizations who are seizing policy windows of opportunity to advance work towards a just, healthy, and creative society, while defending hard fought for sector gains.

The first set of commitments under these three funding strategies will be communicated in late May and throughout June. We expect our funding response will evolve and adapt as the year unfolds. Further updates, including additional information about our funding plans, will be shared on our website and through our quarterly newsletter.

I want to close by acknowledging and thanking the amazing array of Metcalf grantees, long-time partners, and sector-focused organizations who are responding to the myriad challenges related to COVID-19 with vision and tenacity. Know that we have your back and that we will continue to devote Metcalf’s resources to sustaining this vital work.

I wish you and your colleagues the very best on all the important work that you do.