Houston-based Arnold Ventures has announced commitments totaling $10 million in support of COVID-19 relief and response efforts in the United States.
The commitments include $1.2 million for relief efforts in Houston, where the economic fallout from the public health crisis has been exacerbated by the impact of collapsing oil prices. A $1 million contribution to the Greater Houston COVID-19 Recovery Fund, launched by United Way of Greater Houston and the Greater Houston Community Foundation, will help meet the basic needs of vulnerable populations, with a focus on low-wage workers living paycheck to paycheck, and provide support to local nonprofits. Another $200,000 will be awarded to Houston-area organizations focused on helping at-risk populations access emergency funds.
In addition, the foundation will allocate $4 million in support of relief funds in other at-risk communities impacted by the spread of the virus, including $300,000 to the Greater New Orleans Foundation; $600,000 to the Louisiana Governor's Fund; $375,000 to the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan in support of relief efforts in Detroit; $450,000 to the Greater Milwaukee Community Foundation; $300,000 to the Greater St. Louis Foundation; and $150,000 to the United Way of Southwest Georgia COVID-19 Fund.
Additional pledges include $2 million in support of Fast Grants, a newly created group offering expedited funding to scientists working on COVID-19 related projects; $800,000 to the Project on Government Oversight to help strengthen oversight by federal government inspectors general and create more transparency around the distribution of stimulus funds; and a $2 million loan in support of a broader effort aimed at facilitating the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline healthcare workers.
Separately, Arnold Ventures co-founders and co-chairs Laura and John Arnold have contributed $3 million in emergency support through the City Fund, a collaboration with Reed Hastings, to be distributed in fourteen cities.
"The virus seems to wreak the most damage on vulnerable places which may not get the attention of some of their larger and better-funded counterparts," said Arnold Ventures president and CEO Kelli Rhee. "We are actively looking for opportunities to contribute our evidence-based ideology to help them better serve and respond to the needs of their residents."
"This is a crisis of unprecedented proportions, and we wanted to contribute in ways that we believe effectively aid at-risk populations," said John Arnold. "Vulnerable communities are the most likely to fall through the cracks, and we believe it is a responsibility of philanthropy to fill in those gaps."