In response to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico two months ago, the Rockefeller, Open Society, and Ford foundations have announced grants totaling $5 million in support of long-term recovery efforts on the island.
In addition to the initial financial commitment, the three foundations will provide their expertise in helping disaster-affected communities rebuild in a more resilient and equitable way. To that end, the foundations will create a Resilient Puerto Rico Advisory Commission (RPRAC); provide capacity-building support through La Red de Fundaciones de Puerto Rico (the Network of Puerto Rico Foundations) for local philanthropies and NGOs; and fund an assessment of the damage caused by the hurricane. To be co-chaired by Miguel A. Soto-Class, founder and president of the Center for a New Economy, Richard Carrión, chair and CEO of Popular, Inc., the parent company of Banco Popular; Ana García-Blanco, executive director of El Instituto Nueva Escuela; and Carmen Concepción Rodríguez, chair of the Department of Planning at La Universidad de Puerto Rico, RPRAC will build on lessons learned from the response to Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy and will work to develop a long-term strategy for effectively leveraging, deploying, and aligning private, philanthropic, and local and federal government dollars, with the aim of making the island more resilient — physically, economically, and socially — in the long run.
In support of those goals, the foundations will jointly invest in La Red de Fundaciones de Puerto Rico's pooled fund, Fondo Adelante, as well as core operations and staffing, with the aim of strengthening the network's coordination, strategic grantmaking, and communications capacity. In addition, as Congress and federal agencies work to develop future aid packages, technical support for a comprehensive damage assessment will help the territorial government more accurately report the damage to the island's housing stock; critical infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and electrical, water, and telecommunications systems; and social infrastructure, including schools and hospitals.
"Foundations in Puerto Rico welcome this partnership that promises to strengthen the capacity of the nonprofit sector on the island and advance the island's recovery after Hurricane Maria," said Janice Petrovich, executive director and vice president of La Red de Fundaciones de Puerto Rico. "We have seen the value of foundation collaborations in places like New Orleans and Detroit, and believe that this joint investment and knowledge-sharing will help move Puerto Rico forward more wisely and expeditiously."
(Photo credit: La Red de Fundaciones de Puerto Rico)