At the St. Joseph Community Partnership Fund, we believe in investing in the power of community to improve access to care and advance equity.
The Fund is the grantmaking partner for Providence, a comprehensive health care system that serves communities across seven states. For 35 years, the Fund has served those furthest from justice, in states Providence operates and beyond, by making targeted investments and building lasting partnerships with nonprofit organizations and community groups.
We convene coalitions of dedicated leaders, invest in addressing both short-term needs and deep-rooted systemic problems and bolster the strength of community organizations. Our work is focused in four priority areas: housing, education, nonprofit capacity building, and disaster response and recovery.
Disaster response is a particularly critical part of the Fund’s legacy. Thirty-five years ago, the Fund’s first grant went to supporting communities ravaged by a massive earthquake in Mexico. This $1 million investment bolstered our commitment to help the most vulnerable among us in the wake of natural disasters, for more than three decades now.
For two distinct reasons, this work has never been more important. First, we are seeing an undeniable pattern of natural disasters occurring more frequently. As disasters strike more often, communities have less time to recover in between events so local leaders need more resources and capacity to prepare before the next disaster hits.
Second, under-resourced communities are disproportionately impacted by disasters and existing inequities are often exposed and exacerbated by these events. This reality demands we take a more proactive approach to investments and, in the case of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has compounded the impacts of other disasters, address two crises at once.
The Fund does more than address the urgent needs that emerge in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. We also make targeted investments in two other phases of response – community recovery and future planning.
We invest in long-term recovery and preparedness to help mitigate the impact of future disasters. This often takes the form of collaboratives with other funders or partnerships with community leaders to develop plans to rebuild and prepare. Community members are their own best advocates and must have a strong voice at the table. They can tell us exactly what they need and take ownership of the action plans.
Creating space for the community’s voice and strategic thinking ensures the long-term impact of our investments outlasts the initial financial contribution.
In August 2021 alone, the Fund issued grants and built local connections to help communities impacted by two major events: the earthquake in Haiti and Hurricane Ida in the Gulf Coast.
Haitian earthquake: In the aftermath of the earthquake in Grand Sud, Haiti, the Fund issued a grant to Catholic Relief Services, a long- standing partner with a sustained presence and strong relationships with the Haitian people. Our grant was used to provide emergency relief, assist separated or displaced families, and bolster smaller organizations’ capacity to respond directly rather than wait for additional outside funding following the disaster.
Hurricane Ida: Like in Haiti, after Hurricane Ida struck the U.S., the Fund issued grants to reinforce on-the-ground coordination with local hospitals, public officials, and volunteers. But just as importantly, we served as a convener and brought other funders to the table to form an engaged and collaborative network of funders, community members and nonprofits to focus on long-term recovery planning.
It is our goal as a funder to provide both short-term relief and long-term investment to empower local organizations and residents to lead the rebuilding and planning efforts. We trust that communities know what they need to build sustainable systems and infrastructure to withstand the impacts of future disasters.
We take seriously our duty to be a responsible funding partner. This means adapting our investment approach to meet the evolving needs of our communities. We are proud to be leading this shift from reactive disaster response to proactive investments and advocacy to help communities prepare for future disasters. I encourage you to learn more about the Fund’s commitment to safeguarding a sustainable future for everyone.