Hmong family photo

President's Corner

Be Guided By Our Humanity

March 31, 2020

Luz Vega-Marquis
By Luz Vega-Marquis
President and CEO

More than a month has passed since the coronavirus surfaced in the United States. It has shaken the very things we hold dear – the safety, security and health of our families, our communities and our country.

As a grandmother and philanthropy leader who cherishes families, my heart goes out to those who have become ill or lost loved ones during this pandemic. The economic impact on poor, hourly workers, immigrants and people of color underscores the need for inclusive policies that elevate equity and justice.

In times of global crises, we need to rely on the strength of our collective humanity. During this crisis, there may be a tendency to act and live in fear – hoarding food, ignoring the elderly and the poor and blaming others. Instead, we need to support one another and be guided by our humanity.

As we adhere to social distancing and remain isolated in our homes, let’s make sure to recognize the contributions low-income families and communities are making in this time of crisis. I take comfort in seeing people lending a helping hand, and in knowing that decency, dignity and valuing all families will prevail.

This crisis highlights the importance of general support grantmaking, which is at the heart of the Foundation’s strategy. The flexibility of general support grants allows nonprofits to use dollars as they see fit, especially during a public health, democratic and economic crisis.

Marguerite Casey Foundation is rapidly responding to grantees by:

Addressing Work’s New Normal: The pandemic transformed how we work almost overnight, throwing Foundation grantees and staff into unfamiliar and isolated territory working from home. The Foundation will provide resources to help grantees make this transition, prioritizing funding for grassroots organizations with members that are actively responding to the crisis. Grantee organizations are why the Foundation exists, and we are committed to working with them to create safe and accessible workplaces during this crisis.

Emergency Income Support: This outbreak is wreaking havoc in the lives of poor families – millions could lose their jobs, health benefits and basic stability. In response, Marguerite Casey Foundation is creating an emergency income relief fund to help families buy the basics – groceries and supplies – and navigate this crisis. Initially, the fund will focus on gig workers, uncovered by critical parts of the safety net, and then, it could expand. The Workers Lab, a Foundation grantee, will administer the fund.

Protecting the Vulnerable: Some of the nation’s most vulnerable members face a threat of increased digital surveillance while working from home with technology. The Foundation will help protect them by offering virtual digital security training for grantees. This is a public health crisis, but it’s also a crisis of our democracy and institutions. We all need to stay vigilant and prepared.

Financial Planning: A historic economic depression looms on the horizon, and we are committed to helping our grantees prepare by exploring ways to provide financial scenario planning.

Streamlining Resources and Information: We know information is key, and we have developed a page on our website that will be updated every week with funding opportunities, workplace tools, lessons in care and opportunities for action during the crisis in support – a consolidated resource for our grantees.

If there ever was a time for us to work together, that time is now. I wish you and your families the best. Please stay safe and be well.

Be Guided By Our Humanity