How does one begin to describe 2020? There were so many factors and events that dramatically impacted the year, the community, both grantee and foundations, along with the determination around how this may change how we move forward as a foundation and funding community.
Responding to Community in 2020
When COVID hit hard in March, the James R. Thorpe Foundation reacted with some immediacy to reduce requirements for grantees. We suspended our site visit process and allowed programs time to adjust to new realities by providing general operating support. We also moved up the timing around our fall grant round to provide funding earlier in the year to address the more immediate operational needs for those grantees ultimately funded.
George Floyd’s death in May sparked a months-long deliberation for our board. Our initial response was one of immediate funding support, specifically to contribute to rebuilding the Northside with a grant to the West Broadway Business and Area Coalition/Northside Funders Group. We also provided some direct support to JRT grantees whose facilities were impacted by the riots.
Beyond the immediate funding, we began some bigger picture discussions around how to maintain our focus on mission while responding to the changing external environment and the call for nonprofit engagement in social, economic and racial justice issues.
2021 will be a year of listening and learning for the James R. Thorpe Foundation. We will maintain our unwavering support for organizations that directly touch the individual lives of youth on their pathway to independence and seniors as they maintain vitality and connections as they age.
Throughout our history, our grantee partners have reflected the rich cultural and racial diversity of the Minneapolis area. With that, we value our grantees’ perspectives and insights and plan to learn more about their efforts to bring about greater equality in our society through the direct services we fund and their activities that contribute to a more harmonious society.
We look forward to 2021 with hope for a healthier community.