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Guiding principles for the McClure Foundation’s response to COVID-19

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As we grapple with the scope and consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, we find ourselves inundated with news updates and predictions for what’s to come. Like others, we’ve spent the past weeks adjusting to life and work in a time of pandemic – and thinking each day about those families, essential workers, nonprofits, and small businesses who are seriously impacted by this crisis. As we chart the ways in which our foundation can support pandemic response and recovery, we’ve been reaching out to partners to better understand the many ways in which this crisis is affecting their organizations, staff, students, clients, and systems.

Wherever we look, we see feelings of uncertainty and concern eased by acts of generosity and care.

We applaud the kindness of Vermonters who continue to find new ways to support neighbors and essential workers. We applaud the resilience and creativity of young people and students of all ages who are adapting to new expectations and environments. And we applaud educators and education professionals who have focused early response on student safety, wellness, and access. We hope that learning systems continue to focus on student connection, especially as the range of vulnerabilities associated with isolation become clear.

These are the moments in which the McClure Foundation’s affiliation with the Vermont Community Foundation proves especially vital, connecting us with a network of informed and concerned partners who are digging in to understand the range of roles for philanthropy in supporting short-term response and long-term recovery. We're buoyed by what we see as a shared commitment in this network to doubling down in our work as active listeners and connectors, compassionate and flexible funders, and creative thinkers.

With all this in mind, and with an eye to how funders across the country are adapting their own work, we’ve identified guiding principles for our foundation’s strategy in a time of crisis. They include:

  • Recognize this is a multi-layered crisis with many waves of vulnerability impacting organizations, their staff, their clients, and the systems in which they (and we) work.
  • Keep equity at the center. Anticipate that this crisis will exacerbate opportunity and achievement gaps along many of the equity fault lines that predated the pandemic.
  • Be generous with our processes, budget, time, and compassion.
  • Be patient. Assessing needs will be a months-long process and roles for philanthropy will be emergent over time.
  • Stay true to mission. By digging in with our core partners, we can, in small ways, offer consistency and reliability in this time of disruption.
  • Expect paradigm shifts. Be willing to reflect on and reimagine our assumptions and our systems based on what we’ll collectively learn through the experience of living through this pandemic.

These guiding principles point us toward a framework for how we respond:

  • Build flexibility into our current portfolio now by waiving all grant report requirements and removing programmatic restrictions on all unspent grant dollars.
  • Stay connected and communicative with all partners in this time of physical distancing and be available to support core partners as their response needs emerge.
  • Continue our competitive grant round with existing grantee partners as appropriate.
  • Position ourselves as creative, flexible, and coordinated recovery-stage funders. Seek opportunities to engage with others to re-envision and design the systems and strategies that inform our mission and vision.

We’ll post more updates on our website as they’re available. In the meantime: please don’t hesitate to connect with us – and be sure to visit the Community Foundation’s website for more Covid-19 response information and resources.