As the disruption and devastation of the COVID-19 crisis unfolded in 2020, Unorthodox Philanthropy paused our search for social impact ideas that can scale with finite philanthropic capital. UP focused on supporting efforts to directly alleviate health, economic, or other hardships for vulnerable communities most impacted by the pandemic, as well as novel approaches to pandemic mitigation and response.
We have focused on efforts that are solving problems that will persist after the current crisis subsides, or where the pandemic has opened up opportunities for enduring changes, such as in education, prison reform, food security, and mental health support. We have also prioritized organizations with which we had existing relationships and which were well-positioned to act in the moment. UP's COVID-19 response grants include:
The UCSF Global Health Group, to develop and disseminate community-based response efforts in low- and middle-income countries
NYU Marron Institute’s Graduated Reintegration team, to encourage rapid release and supportive reentry services for people incarcerated in jails and prisons
Coming Clean, to improve food access and security to low-income Americans living in food deserts
The Native American Community Response Fund, to provide rapid response grants to Native-led organizations serving Indigenous communities impacted by the pandemic
Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, to support the work of Dr. Michael Osterholm in providing accurate and timely information to inform pandemic response policy and practice
Representative Testing Study in Western Kenya, to understand the prevalence and transmission of COVID-19 in low-income, rural settings and to validate low-cost surveillance methods
Saga Education, to provide high-quality tutoring to vulnerable students by adapting its program for remote and hybrid school settings
TalkingPoints, to improve school-family engagement through a dynamic, multilingual communication platform
GiveDirectly, to deliver direct cash assistance to vulnerable populations affected by the pandemic
Evidence Aid, to summarize and deliver the best available evidence on COVID-19 to decision-makers to inform pandemic response
See here for more information on each of these efforts.