In response to the global coronavirus pandemic, the New Venture Fund (NVF) moved quickly to serve the projects we host, our staff, our grantees, and the communities where we live and work. We swiftly moved our systems and processes online while continuing to operate at full capacity to support the essential missions of NVF projects across the country and around the world.
Early on, we took critical steps to provide support for the staff working across our projects, including:
- Guidance on leave and working remotely, which has now been extended through the remainder of 2020
- Sharing frequent COVID-19 communications
- Convening the directors of our projects to allow them to share best practices and discuss challenges
Additionally, NVF took proactive steps to quickly deploy resources to assist with both immediate and longer-term COVID-19 response efforts. We stood up new projects focused on COVID-19, helped grantees respond to new realities, and streamlined processes to accelerate relief efforts.
Establishing rapid-relief funds
NVF helped establish relief funds like the Oakland Fund for Public Innovation’s COVID-19 Relief Fund. These relief funds streamlined donation and grant-making processes to help rapidly mobilize resources to the most urgent community needs. The Oakland Fund worked with established nonprofit partners to quickly allocate resources to food, homelessness, community health, and economic security needs. NVF’s work has facilitated rapid-response grants and out-of-cycle payments and reduced other barriers to the fund’s operations. Community partners like Bay Area Community Services received support in weeks, in turn providing shelter and meals for those in need.
Similarly, NVF helped the James Beard Foundation establish the JBF Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund. The fund coordinated donations from corporate, foundation, and individual donors to provide micro-grants of $15,000 to independent food and beverage businesses and their thousands of workers in need. NVF facilitated donations to this fund so that these urgent micro-grants could help ensure food and beverage small businesses are still standing post COVID-19.
Supporting existing projects as they adapted to new challenges
NVF also helped many of the projects we host adapt their own work to respond to new challenges. For example, the Youth First Initiative mobilized quickly to communicate the risks COVID-19 presents to the population it serves—incarcerated youth, who are at higher risk during a public health crisis. The initiative worked with advocates all over the country to send information on measures needed to protect young people in custody from COVID-19 to governors in 36 states.
Another of our projects, the Alaska Venture Fund, which invests in a sustainable and secure future for all Alaskans, mobilized resources to improve communication and guidance on social distancing: Caringiseasy.com provides free public health materials and graphics and encourages Alaskans to share via social media, increasing understanding about the importance of staying home to save lives.
And IllumiNative, another NVF project, received $25,000 in emergency COVID-19 funding to provide direct relief to Native peoples in Oklahoma. The project used gift cards to provide monetary assistance to individuals impacted by the crisis. The NVF project team worked with vendors to reduce fees and process orders quickly to get these gift cards into the hands of those in need in a short amount of time.
Accelerating and streamlining response efforts
To help accelerate COVID-19 response efforts, NVF’s operations team rolled out a streamlined grant-making process to get funding into the hands of organizations that need it as quickly as possible for COVID-19 relief. The process can be used both for new funding received and for existing funding that has been reallocated by donors, and it can award funds within two weeks of receiving them from donors. To get funds out this quickly, we simplified application processes and reduced reporting requirements. As an example, one NVF project used the process to disperse multiple rapid-response grants to health clinics around the country to provide support during this critical time.
Learn more about our efforts
The New Venture Fund understands that we are all in this together and continues to look for ways to support our partners and projects throughout the ongoing pandemic. We invite you to reach out with questions or to learn more about our work.