New York, NY (September 30, 2020) - Today twenty-two foundations and major donors signed a joint pledge to redouble their commitments to Puerto Rico as the island and its people continue to recover from 2017's Hurricane Maria, ongoing natural disasters, and the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recognizing the urgency of the moment, a network of foundations and major donors signed a joint pledge to: maintain, strengthen and expand their philanthropic commitments to Puerto Rico; invest in local community leaders and organizations who are committed to just, equitable, and inclusive recovery efforts; and continue to build the capacity of organizations working in Puerto Rico by providing flexible financial, non-financial, and technical assistance.
They are calling on additional donors to join the pledge to support Puerto Rico, which has been historically under-resourced by philanthropy and the federal government. The initial signatories to the pledge include a diverse group of stateside and island based foundations and philanthropic networks including: The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Andrus Family Fund; Comic Relief US; Ford Foundation; Funders for LGTBQ Issues; GlobalGiving; Hispanics in Philanthropy; Maria Fund; The Nathan Cummings Foundation; Neighborhood Funders Group; Open Society Foundations; the Surdna Foundation; and Filantropía Puerto Rico and its members Fundación Ángel Ramos, Fundación Banco Popular, Fundación Colibrí, Fundación Comunitaria de Puerto Rico, Fundación Flamboyán, Fundación Segarra Boerman, Hispanic Federation, Miranda Foundation, and Titín Foundation. Donors who would like to join the pledge can sign on at bit.ly/justandresilientPR.
The joint call to action follows findings from a recently released report from Filantropía Puerto Rico, which highlights the specific need to reimagine the rebuilding process in Puerto Rico. Based on interviews with several organizations working in the aftermath of the hurricane, Filantropía Puerto Rico is calling for recovery efforts to start at the community level, led by those who sit closest to the climate, economic, and health challenges facing Puerto Rico in recent years, and best understand the work that remains to be done.
In the three years since Hurricane Maria, the initial signatories have invested a combined more than $157 million to support a wide range of organizations and institutions based in Puerto Rico. Today the Ford Foundation announced that it will contribute an additional $10 million raised from its historic social bond offering to support organizations on the island. The full list of funding recipients will be announced in the coming months.
“Mellon is proud to pledge continued robust support to Puerto Rico and its vital artistic, cultural, and higher learning endeavors throughout the island and the diaspora,” said Mellon Foundation President Elizabeth Alexander. “In the past two years alone, Mellon’s Puerto Rico initiative has funded over $9 million in dynamic arts, humanities, and higher education programs that ensure the ideas and imaginations of all Puerto Ricans have the opportunity to thrive. With this partnership, we will expand our longstanding and deeply fulfilling work in Puerto Rico even further in the years to come.”
"Despite extreme child poverty, unresponsive public systems, and deep denial of and disparities faced by Black communities, Puerto Rican youth are leading some of the most innovative organizing, culture, and environmental work in our nation. Funders would do well to invest in the nonprofits that have figured out how to build local responses to climate catastrophe at the intersections of racial and social justice. At our 2018 Education Anew convening, local grantees Taller Salud, El Instituto del Desarrollo de la Juventud, and ENLACE: El Caño Martín Peña, and Maria Fund shared their insights and innovations with over 300 mainland funders, youth organizers, and nonprofits; resulting in cross-movement connections and collaborations that continue today. We must never forget to support Puerto Ricans who have borne the brunt of racism, colonial policies, and climate and economic inequities because they hold powerful solutions to improve life for everyone on the island and beyond," said Manuela Arciniegas, Director, Andrus Family Fund
"Comic Relief US is proud to stand with Filantropia Puerto Rico and our peers in issuing this call for continued commitment to Puerto Rico and support for the island’s communities to build a stronger future. More than ever, we must all use our platforms to mobilize resources and elevelate the voices of Puerto Rico's most vulnerable and the community leaders who are forging an equitable path forward," said Alison Moore, CEO, Comic Relief US.
"The Ford Foundation is proud to join our partners in philanthropy and make a long-term commitment to the people of Puerto Rico," said Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation. "It is critical we learn from the successes local organizers across the island have made thus far and continue to build the capacity of community-level organizations that are making just, sustainable, and equitable change."
“Faced with the deterioration of living conditions, we are committed to the continuous support of organizations that provide opportunities for change. Also, we are currently sponsoring programs to attend the mental health of our people," said Laura López, Executive Director, Fundación Ángel Ramos
“Hurricanes Irma and María uncovered the pervasive social and economic inequality that our nonprofit partners have known and fought against for decades. For forty years, Fundación Banco Popular’s purpose has been to support the people behind the projects and community organizations: executive directors, staff and participants. The post-disaster devastation mobilized Fundación Banco Popular to further elevate community-led solutions--by truly listening, piloting bold ideas that amplify access, and committing to invest resources long-term based on trust and on the conviction that Puerto Ricans will determine Puerto Rico’s success," said Beatriz Polhamus, Executive Director, Fundación Banco Popular
“Our commitment is to close the social and racial inequity gaps existing in our communities, by providing access to social and economic resources for them to become self-sufficient in areas such as water, energy, community economic development, housing and education. We believe these inequity gaps are key elements in promoting poverty, especially in areas that because of their geographic location and their social and economic context are excluded and denied the most basic resources to improve their quality of life," said Dr. Nelson I. Colón, President and CEO of Fundación Comunitaria de Puerto Rico.
"Fundación Colibrí remains committed to investing in the people of Puerto Rico to spark transformation through informed engagement and local action. We urge others to join us, the long journey towards a sustainable recovery requires our consistent and unwavering support," said Monica de la Torre, Founder/President, Fundación Colibrí
“Hurricane Maria hit all of Puerto Rico hard, but in particular the immediate disaster and the inequitable recovery process further exposed the vulnerability of our most marginalized communities. We were inspired by the community-led efforts that arose to provide direct and essential services to those who most needed it. As we were humbled to support these efforts then, Flamboyan remains committed to the revitalization of Puerto Rico for the long haul," said Carlos Rodríguez, Executive Director, Fundación Flamboyán
"The Segarra Boerman Foundation is committed to supporting Puerto Rico in these moments of multiple emergencies: years long reconstruction process from the 2017 back to back hurricanes, the 2020 earthquake and the coronavirus pandemic. We pledge our support with flexible and unrestricted funds, multi-year grants and grantee centered and trust-based collaborations. We hope you join us on this journey to dismantle the second-class no man's land treatment that has typically permeated within the U.S. Foundations regarding Puerto Rico. This is why it is so important for the philanthropic community to join in this pledge and support an inclusive, equitable and just recovery led by community leaders and local non-profit organizations," said Alexandra Hertell, Executive Director, Fundación Segarra Boerman e Hijos
“GlobalGiving has been humbled to support amazing community-led nonprofits across Puerto Rico since 2017. We are inspired by the powerful vision shared by so many community leaders for a reimagined and more just Puerto Rico, and we plan to continue our focus and support into 2021," said Donna Callejon, Executive Lead, Disaster Response, GlobalGiving
“Hispanic Federation has been on the ground in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria and we intend to remain to help strengthen and promote the programs and policies that facilitate a just recovery and a more equitable, sustainable, and healthy society for the island we love,” said Frankie Miranda, President Hispanic Federation. “Our work in Puerto Rico has become central to who we are as an organization. We have seen the power that partnerships can have through the incredible network of local non-profit organizations we collaborate with and in whom we have invested more than $39 million. Foundations and private donors have played an immeasurable role in Puerto Rico’s recovery and we have a responsibility to see this through to the end.”
“Miranda Foundation reaffirms its commitment to support organizations in Puerto Rico which are working for equity and social change," said Lourdes Miranda, Founder/President, Miranda Foundation
“Open Society Foundations is committed to continuing our investment in local movements, organizations and individuals who are prioritizing a just recovery for the island, through community organizing, investigative journalism, strategic litigation and targeted advocacy. Along with these groups and individuals, we dream of a Puerto Rico for Puerto Ricans, where local leadership gets to shape the future of their communities, including the future of Puerto Rico’s political status. We believe Puerto Rico’s colonial status is the root cause of many of the issues Puerto Ricans have faced for the past hundred years. We support a process of binding self-determination that we believe will put the island on the road to economic and social prosperity” said Karina Claudio Betancourt, Director of the Puerto Rico Project for the Open Society Foundations, who have invested close to $20 million dollars on Puerto Rico related issues since 2013; and project to spend $5 million more in the next coming years.
“Oxfam is proud to continue its work in Puerto Rico supporting local humanitarian leadership,” said María Concepción, Program Manager, Oxfam America
“Since our first grant to the Maria Fund in 2018, the Surdna Foundation has supported frontline social justice leaders and networks in Puerto Rico to surface solutions by communities most impacted by the ongoing financial and economic crisis, natural disasters, environmental inequities, and now the pandemic. We redouble our commitment to organize and work with funders to sustain support for the island. We encourage others to join us in giving unrestricted, multi-year grants for communities to build back better and realize a more just and equitable Puerto Rico for all," said Don Chen, President, Surdna Foundation
“At Titín Foundation we are committed to contributing to the recovery and the future of Puerto Rico. That is why our Foundation is developing several aligned initiatives with the aim of promoting and strengthening the nonprofit sector. Our programs focus on providing tools to organizations that contribute to their human and economic development and on improving their long-term operations and performance. Part of our strategic alignment for the coming years includes assisting organizations with attaining the proper documentation and guidance to access federal funds, as well as mechanisms that will give them greater visibility and stability. We know that these organizations respond effectively during emergencies. As a Foundation, we feel that it is now our duty to direct our efforts towards a strategy that provides them with sustained security, creating a more solid and permanent infrastructure that will allow these groups to continue working hard for our people," said Sofía Martínez Álvarez, Executive Director, Titín Foundation