“As GHR staff gathered virtually to mourn the police killing of George Floyd, we reflected on what our collective effort must be to interrupt systemic racism in our community. Through our work we’ve come to learn that there is no single answer to inequity—but do know more urgent and coordinated action is required. I am both broken-hearted and outraged by the continued injustice experienced by Black, Brown and Indigenous communities in America. As a White woman, it’s uncomfortable for me to talk about race. And yet, I cannot stand silent like the officers did as they watched George Floyd die.” — Amy Goldman, CEO & Chair, GHR Foundation
World Economic Forum: COVID-19 shows the need for radical change. Here's how faith leaders can help rebuild a better post-pandemic world
From World Economic Forum:
In recent months, we have witnessed the courage and sacrifice of so many people delivering healthcare and essential services. At the same time, there has been a sharp wake-up call about gross inequities in testing, economic pain, even survival itself. For much of the world – especially least-developed countries with only one or two doctors for every 10,000 people – the worst of the coronavirus still lies ahead. If this pandemic has revealed anything, it’s that we are globally interdependent.
It is time to pay attention and change course.
A better world – one that nurtures human potential among the least of us – can only grow from the seeds of honest conversation. As the holy texts of all major faiths attest, we reap what we sow. This is especially true in the natural world, where droughts, fierce storms, accelerating extinctions, rising seas and now coronavirus tell us that we are imperiling our own future.
We can’t simply go back to the way things were. Markets are highly inefficient in distributing empathy, compassion, hope and dignity – or even, as many have recently discovered, assigning true economic value with any degree of accuracy. We must build the world we want out of this disruption, so that markets work for the whole of society, not just a few. For what is the purpose of a free market if the people who make it possible are not themselves free? How we earn, how we spend and how we sustain the world and each other need a radical rebalancing.
For example, why are millions of “essential” workers – nurses, garbage collectors, grocery clerks, postal workers – so poorly paid? Why have companies and markets failed so spectacularly at anticipating, let alone balancing, supply and demand for basic protective gear? And how can one even place a monetary figure on the freedom to walk without mortal fear of a passing stranger’s cough, or to attend a loved one’s funeral?
We have always lived in a world of kindness and cruelty, generosity and greed, hope and cynicism, love and hate – all in constant tension. But which of these prevail in our countries, companies and communities ultimately depends upon the candour and courage of the conversations we have with our leaders – and the accountability we insist upon from them.
Now, we must embrace the moral imperative of radical change not just because it is right, but because it is the only practical course of action that can save the world from a worse fate in years to come.
Fortunately, recent events have shown us that rapid and radical change is in fact possible on a mass scale. Our challenge now is to channel and build upon it.
A bold response to this call for change is the COVID-19 Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs, a new coalition of innovative social entrepreneurs, foundations, civil society, faith actors, corporations and international organizations, hosted by the Schwab Foundation at the World Economic Forum. Together, we will work towards change on several fronts.
1. Synchronize the response
First, we will marshal and synchronize our response to alleviate the pandemic’s impact on the excluded and most vulnerable populations and engage others in such service.
2. Leverage trust in faith-based organizations
In good times, faith-based organizations and social entrepreneurs provide at least one-third of primary healthcare in many countries in Africa, according to Christian Health Associations. Religions for Peace estimates this figure to be significantly higher in places affected by humanitarian disasters, where governments struggle to cope with needs. These partnerships have established a vital reservoir of trust, and in times of hardship and rapid change, trust is among the most important capital.
3. Add our voice to the Great Transformation
As the World Economic Forum explores the fundamental challenges of creating opportunity, equity, economic growth and sustainability in a post-pandemic world, we will add our voices to the global call for more humane and ecological measures of progress, as well as rules and incentives to transform these high ideals into everyday reality.
4. Understand civic and political life as an expression of love
One value that we believe should guide such conversations is love – a word that makes many political and business leaders strangely uncomfortable. In this context, love is much deeper and broader than a romantic sentiment. It is a courageous acknowledgment of interdependence, even obligation, to one another as fellow human beings. That’s why Pope Francis has identified civic and political life as among the highest possible expressions of love.
Some 800 years ago, Saint Francis of Assisi showed the world that institutions cannot forever cater to the rich and powerful without sacrificing their moral authority, their vital connection with the natural world or their own sense of every life’s intrinsic equality. In modern terms, we would consider him a social entrepreneur – a person who, through deep love and his own organizational abilities, changed the way millions perceived the poor, revitalized the purpose of institutions, restored people’s relationship with nature and demonstrated the enduring power of faith to affect change.
This pandemic is not just a health crisis – it’s also a crisis of faith in many of the assumptions, systems and institutions that have utterly failed us. Without hope and faith in the future, people have little to live for. With faith, however, in all its rich and varied dimensions, anything is possible.
So, let’s get started with the hard work, and hard conversations, together. Because whether you consider yourself an idealist or a realist, the path forward will be hard and steep for years to come. Let’s at least make sure we are headed in a direction that most people can believe in, and rebuild a future of hope, value and possibility for all people and the natural world we call home.
Fr. Augusto Zampini Davies Adjunct Secretary, Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, The Vatican City State
Amy Goldman CEO & Chair, GHR Foundation
François Bonnici Head of Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, World Economic Forum
GHR Foundation is partnering with Misean Cara to ensure children can grow up and thrive in safe, nurturing families. An Irish faith-based international development organization, Misean Cara supports development projects through its members - 89 missionary organizations working to support marginalized communities around the globe.
This partnership builds on GHR’s and Misean Cara’s commitment to support the work of women and men religious, especially Catholic sisters, at the frontlines of care for the vulnerable, including children. GHR and Misean Cara have committed to co-funding of projects in the Global South that strengthen families and improve care for children with disabilities.
The partnership also entails co-learning that brings foundation staff, members, and partners together to explore faith-based development efforts as these pertain to children and families.
From Business Wire:
“A pressing need exists for affordable and accessible testing in dementia care,” stated Joel Braunstein, MD, CEO of C2N. “We are highly appreciative of GHR Foundation’s partnership. With their support, GHR is enabling a future that positively impacts the fate of Alzheimer’s in people at risk for the disease. Earlier detection will improve clinical care and facilitate new ways to change the course of disease through treatment and prevention.”
C2N expects to soon be able to provide practicing clinicians with a blood test that they can order for their patients who are showing early signs of memory loss. The test will help doctors determine the likelihood that Alzheimer’s pathology is present. In addition to supporting C2N’s launch of the APTUS-A™ test under CLIA, GHR’s funding will also fuel C2N’s global growth and pipeline of other neurologic diagnostic tests.
“C2N’s entrepreneurial mindset combined with their deep commitment to help patients are central to GHR’s goal of Alzheimer’s prevention,” stated Amy Goldman, CEO and Chair of GHR Foundation. “We are delighted to support the team and look forward to serving their potential as, together, we reimagine what’s possible in preventing this disease.”
GHR is grounding our immediate, ongoing response to COVID-19 in solidarity and support of our current partners. Over the past few weeks, our staff have been reaching out to assess their needs and ensure that we are prepared to repurpose grants to deploy funds as needed, as we collectively confront these unprecedented circumstances.
At this time of year, the Foundation would normally be processing 15-30 grants a month. We currently have 96 grants scheduled for April alone, with $17M going out to our partners – the most GHR has ever deployed in one month.
As we identify and respond to emerging needs, some of our areas of focus include:
• Funding the World Economic Forum’s COVID-19 Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs
Interfaith action with UNICEF and Religions for Peace
• Mobilizing a COVID-19-specific response through the Global Solidarity Fund
• Discussing opportunities for the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health to lead in our community
• Seeking creative ways to support and activate faith leaders in our existing network, as with our partner Alight, who are training Sisters in Uganda and El Salvador to lead the response to COVID-19 in their communities.
In this urgent and dynamic situation, we are continuing to learn how best to forge ahead and be of service to those in vulnerable situations. As we collectively navigate this immense challenge, all of us at GHR will continue to learn how we might lead with love in every aspect of our efforts.
Partnering Boldly with WEF Alliance to Support Social Entrepreneurs and Faith Leaders in Global Response to COVID-19
From The World Economic Forum:
Forty leading global organizations have united to launch the COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs, pooling knowledge, experience and responses to alleviate suffering and advance new models of change for a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable world.
"Social entrepreneurs and their community partners have been working for years to solve market failures and demonstrate more sustainable and inclusive models. These front-line organizations now face bankruptcy and severe constraints while they also innovate and respond to this global pandemic. Through this alliance, members are committing support for social entrepreneurs to protect decades of work in the impact sector,” said François Bonnici, Director and Head of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship at the World Economic Forum.
Alliance members currently support more than 15,000 social entrepreneurs helping 1.5 billion people cumulatively in over 190 countries, working to serve the needs of excluded, marginalized and vulnerable groups – many of whom have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. The alliance also aims to coordinate between member organizations and amplify the support for social entrepreneurs under extreme stress by the pandemic.
The development of the alliance is supported by GHR Foundation and is operationally supported by Yunus Social Business, which has been co-developing the initiative. “This pandemic reminds us that our differences in faith, culture or politics are superseded by what we have in common,” said Amy Goldman, Chief Executive Officer and Chair, GHR Foundation, which is helping to underwrite the alliance.
“And whether someone is a social entrepreneur or a member of a faith community or both at once, we all share a deep desire to alleviate suffering, support human dignity and help people build a better future. This alliance is going to help people do exactly that.”
From Religions for Peace:
Religions for Peace (RfP) announces the launch of the “Multi-religious Humanitarian Fund” to support multi-religious collaborative efforts around COVID-19 and to stimulate creative interventions that promote resilience within and among diverse communities.
RfP International, through this Fund, will provide a small seed grant to those Interreligious Councils (IRC) and multi-religious networks who are able to propose programs aimed at enhancing awareness about precautionary measures, supporting vulnerable households, combating discrimination in speech as well as actions, and serving the needs of the most vulnerable individuals and communities. The interreligious platforms who will be awarded this will have a track record of collaboration, and/or humanitarian relief provision.
The seed grants, sponsored by the donors to the Fund, GHR Foundation and Fetzer Institute, encourage interreligious platforms and project partners to raise additional resources to scale up their efforts and ensure the sustainability of these projects.
Partnership between UNICEF and Religions for Peace on a Global Multi-Religious Faith-in-Action COVID-19 Initiative
GHR believes faith networks are the single most effective conduit to the deep and wide outreach needed to create social change. They have the trust, access and skills to support the systems and behavior changes necessary in their communities and across broader networks.
Confronting the widespread implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, our partners UNICEF and Religions for Peace have committed to strengthening multi-religious action and community mobilization. Their newly launched global initiative calls upon all communities across the world, together with governments, UN entities, and broad civil society organisations, to come together in a collective response.
Under the guidance of public health officials to slow the spread of COVID-19, all Minnesota schools were closed beginning Tuesday, March 17, 2020. Recognizing that this action would disproportionately affect marginalized communities, as does crisis in all forms, GHR has made two grants through our Catholic Schools initiative to support those students, and their families, for whom school closures will prove especially challenging.
Both grants have been made to new grantees, who are best suited to address pressing needs at this time:
These have been rapid response grants, aimed at addressing the most immediate needs. As GHR looks ahead to anticipate other emerging requirements and adapt to these unique and unprecedented circumstances in the longer term, we continue to learn about how we might partner boldly to best support our partners and communities.
GHR joins our peers in philanthropy as a signatory of the Council on Foundations pledge of action, calling on leaders in philanthropy to recognize the critical need to act with fierce urgency to support our nonprofit partners as well as the people and communities hit hardest by COVID-19 and its implications.
The widespread impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are a reminder of the deep need for solidarity. By acting together to provide flexibility to our grantee partners, GHR joins our peers in helping them move their essential work forward powerfully and confidently in this critical moment.