A network of twenty-two foundations and major donors has issued a joint pledge to redouble commitments to Puerto Rico, which over the last few years has been battered by the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hurricane Maria, and a series of other natural disasters.
The pledge — which includes a commitment to maintain, strengthen, and expand philanthropic investments on the island, invest in local leaders and equitable recovery efforts, and provide flexible financial, non-financial, and technical assistance — is informed by the findings of a recently released report, Recovery After Maria, When? For Whom? (9 pages, PDF), that calls for recovery efforts focused at the community level and led by those closest to the challenges Puerto Rico has faced since Hurricane Maria made landfall in 2017.
Initial signatories to the pledge include the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Andrus Family Fund, Comic Relief US, Ford Foundation, Funders for LGTBQ Issues, GlobalGiving, Hispanics in Philanthropy, Maria Fund, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Neighborhood Funders Group, Open Society Foundations, Surdna Foundation, and Filantropía Puerto Rico (which authored the report) 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.
To date, the initial signatories have invested a total of more than $157 million in Puerto Rico, with the Ford Foundation contributing an additional $10 million.
"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," said Karina Claudio Betancourt, director of the Puerto Rico Project for the Open Society Foundations. "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."
"The Ford Foundation is proud to join our partners in philanthropy and make a long-term commitment to the people of Puerto Rico," said Ford Foundation president Darren Walker. "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."
(Photo credit: Lorrie Shaul)