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Covid 19

Our Response to Covid-19

The Hill-Snowdon Foundation joins colleagues in pledge and support in response to Covid-19.

Photo Credit: [Name] - NY Times

The Board and Staff of the Hill-Snowdon Foundation hopes that you, your families, loved ones and communities are healthy and safe in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. This global pandemic has turned everyone’s world upside down, but we know that according to recent reporting that African Americans are at particular risk for contracting the virus and dying from it. As data becomes more available, we will likely see a disproportionate impact in other communities of color and low-wealth communities, both in terms of the disease and its economic, social and political repercussions. All this to say is that we are so grateful for all the work you all do and for the increased burden that you are carrying to support and protect communities at even greater risk of trauma and inequity in this moment.

Phase 1

HSF has developed and would like to share our initial plan of action in response to the COVID-19 crisis. We understand fully that this initial response is meager in comparison to the need, but we know it’s important to stand with you in solidarity and support as quickly as we can. We developed these initial measures after getting feedback from some of you and other partners, as well as our own observations. A full detail of our plan is attached to this email, but in brief, here are the major highlights:



  • All of our major grants* for 2020 have been expedited and will be processed beginning this Friday April 10th *(There are a few exceptions to this based on other extenuating circumstances).

  • We have also increased all major grants for 2020 by $5,000.​

  • Our grants are typically for general support, but we removed any language from our grant award letter that referred to specific objectives or goals (e.g., deliverables).

  • All groups that were scheduled to get a final grant this year will be extended for one more year.

  • Recent Alumni or groups that recently transitioned from HSF support in the past 5 years will also receive an automatic $5,000 general support grant.

  • HSF is committing an additional $100,000 to support direct service needs associated with the COVID-19 crisis through contributing to pooled funds or initiatives (e.g., community foundations and/or grassroots partners) with a focus on under-resourced areas (e.g., the South, rural communities, Native American territories, etc.) and/or particularly vulnerable communities (e.g., communities of color, low wage workers, homeless people, domestic abuse victims, incarcerated people, etc.).


Telework Support:

  • HSF will provide video-teleconferencing to our current grassroots partners in consultation with our partners and as the need arises. We will also explore and try to make available digital security solutions.


Program Related Investment:

  • Eliminate scheduled interest payments for our PRI’s.

  • Extend the terms of PRI loans (principal) in consultation with borrowers.

  • Switch to annual rather than quarterly financial reporting for borrowers.


Community Building/Wellness:

  • Launch Mid-Days in the Madness - a weekly, Zoom-based, DJ hosted, music session during the day that will allow our partners to take a wellness break, build community and connect with one another (inspired by D-Nice’s #ClubQuarantine).


We hope that these measures will be of some help in the near term. We have reached out sparingly out of respect for your time. We do look forward to connecting with you to inform that second phase of our response this year. The next phase of our response maybe focused on helping to build the infrastructure for power building that is necessary to secure the opportunities for big structural progressive change due to the COVID-19 crisis. You can always call us anytime.


Thank you so much for all that you do. We want you to know that we are here for you during this current crisis and beyond. This is a time like no other. But we will get through it as we have at all other times – led by our values, supporting one another and fighting to make this a more just and equitable world. Wishing you and yours health, safety and power.


In Solidarity and with Deep Appreciation,


Hill-Snowdon Foundation

Pledges, Resources & Articles


The COVID-19 Crisis is a Racial Justice Issue and Our Response Must Prioritize the Power of Black, Indigenous, Latinx & Other People of Color

A Message from our Colleagues at the Council on Foundations

An Open Letter to Our Public Officials from Our Funder Partners



Resources & Articles

The South Has Something to Say: COVID-19 and Our Chance for Transformation

How to Get Mutual Aid to Those Most in Need

How the coronavirus is surfacing America’s deep-seated anti-Asian biases

Black Americans Face Alarming Rates of Coronavirus Infection in Some States

Mid-days & Mixes in the Madness

During April and May, we launched Mid-Days in the Madness to provide a mental health break for our partners in the midst of their days managing all the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. An short term experiment in offering other ways for folks to connect, we recognize that the long term need for self-care is still critical and ongoing. In the meantime, we are shifting to Mixes in the Madness, where we will provide pre-recorded mixes that you can download and listen to at your leisure, from Dr. Phillgood, as well as other guest DJs. Please click on the link(s) below to download and enjoy our mixes. Take care, be safe and thank you for all the work you do!


Mid-Days in the Madness - May 5th

Dr. Philgood's Early 80's Mix

Racial Justice Letter

The COVID-19 virus does not discriminate -- it can infect anyone. However, when an indiscriminate virus is unleashed in a country where racially unjust systems have long decided who lives, who dies, who thrives and who just gets by, the impact is anything but equal. As data disaggregated by race trickles out from state and local health agencies, it has confirmed what many of us not only feared but also anticipated: Black, Latinx and other people of color, who are the people of the global majority, are disproportionately dying from COVID-19. 


A racially disparate impact necessitates a racially equitable response -- one that prioritizes the leadership of Indigenous, Black, Latinx, and other people of color to respond to the immediate needs in their own communities, bolsters resilience in the face of this crisis, and builds power to push for long-lasting systemic change. With this in mind, we, the undersigned funders who believe in reimagining philanthropy as a just, racially equitable transition of power and resources, have coordinated approximately $2 million in sustained funding and $500,000 in rapid response funding to date to organizations led by people of color in the Washington, DC region based on the following commitments:


  1. Supporting underfunded organizations led by people of color

  2. Solidarity with organizers, base builders and advocates

  3. Focusing hyperlocally

  4. Prioritizing disproportionately impacted industries and workers

  5. Taking a multi-pronged approach

  6. Operating with trust


As funders coordinating this effort, we pledge to act as advocates for these groups and invite our philanthropic peers, both locally and nationally, to part ways with business-as-usual philanthropy to meet this moment, which is anything but usual. Here are steps you can take right now:


  1. Get the support you need from funding peers with experience in racial justice grantmaking. Organizations like Neighborhood Funders Group and Association for Black Foundation Executives can help. For local support, reach out to any of the signatories on this letter for opportunities to plug in.

  2. If you do not have the relationships or capacity to deploy funding quickly to grassroots groups, rely on trusted intermediaries such as Diverse City Fund and Emergent Fund, who have a history of funding systems-change work driven by people of color-led grassroots organizations.

  3. Extend your influence beyond grantmaking by contributing your time, expertise, and voice. We have formed sub-committees focused on civic engagement, healing justice and capacity building. We are especially inviting national foundations with regional offices in the Washington, DC region to join us.

  4. Finally, attend the trust-based philanthropy webinar hosted by the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers on Monday, April 20th at 11 a.m. to learn how to reimagine your philanthropy. Information can be found here: trust-based-philanthropy-during-times-crisis-and-beyond.


In solidarity,

Hill-Snowdon Foundation


The rapid spread of COVID-19 has created a global health and economic crisis that is testing every one of us. We know that the shocks of this “new normal” are severe and unanticipated for our sector and grantee partners.

As leaders in philanthropy, we recognize the critical need to act with fierce urgency to support our nonprofit partners as well as the people and communities hit hardest by the impacts of COVID-19.

We invite funders and other leaders in the philanthropic sector to join us in making these commitments and collectively holding ourselves accountable to them by signing this pledge of action.​

Our Pledge

Over the days, weeks, and months ahead, each of our foundations pledges to: 

  • Loosen or eliminate the restrictions on current grants. This can include: converting project-based grants to unrestricted support; accelerating payment schedules; and not holding grantees responsible if conferences, events, and other project deliverables must be postponed or canceled. 

  • Make new grants as unrestricted as possible, so nonprofit partners have maximum flexibility to respond to this crisis. We will also support organizations created and led by the communities most affected that we may not fund currently.

  • Reduce what we ask of our nonprofit partners, postponing reporting requirements, site visits, and other demands on their time during this challenging period.

  • Contribute to community-based emergency response funds and other efforts to address the health and economic impact on those most affected by this pandemic.

  • Communicate proactively and regularly about our decision-making and response to provide helpful information while not asking more of grantee partners. 

  • Commit to listening to our partners and especially to those communities least heard, lifting up their voices and experiences to inform public discourse and our own decision-making so we can act on their feedback. We recognize that the best solutions to the manifold crises caused by COVID-19 are not found within foundations. 

  • Support, as appropriate, grantee partners advocating for important public policy changes to fight the pandemic and deliver an equitable and just emergency response for all. This may include its economic impact on workers, such as expanded paid sick leave; increasing civic participation; access to affordable health care; and expanded income and rental assistance. It should also include lending our voices to calls to action led by grantee partners, at their direction and request.

  • Learn from these emergency practices and share what they teach us about effective partnership and philanthropic support, so we may consider adjusting our practices more fundamentally in the future, in more stable times, based on all we learn.


Take the Pledge

We encourage other foundations and philanthropic organizations to join us in making these commitments and holding ourselves accountable to them by signing this pledge of action.

COVID-19’s impacts are reaching every corner of the world. We must stand together. By acting together to provide flexibility to our grantee partners, we believe we can help them move their essential work forward powerfully and confidently in this critical moment.

Letter to Public Officials

Dear Public Officials:

As philanthropic institutions who strive for a racially and economically equitable region, we thank you for your leadership during this unprecedented crisis caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus. We appreciate the actions that you have taken already to protect residents of DC, Maryland, and Virginia, including declaring a state of emergency and ensuring our residents have access to meals while schools remained closed. As the crisis continues to evolve, it is likely that other measures will need to be taken. We write this letter to emphasize some key issues that are of concern to many members of the region’s philanthropic community.

This crisis has revealed the challenges of a region and country divided by a racialized wealth and income gap so wide that large numbers of our residents – the majority of whom are people of color lacking economic stability and well-being before this crisis – will struggle to survive this even in the short-term from both a health and financial perspective. The potential spread of the virus, and the accompanying changes in work schedules and status, lack of sufficient paid sick leave for all workers, and rapid changes in income will put many individuals and families into financial crisis. As the crisis continues, it will make it even harder on our most vulnerable residents, and we encourage you to consider every means necessary to protect our community.

We have long-term systems work to do to address the inequities in our region that, in part, are exacerbating the crisis today. But in the short-term, these are some of the critical ideas that we think will help avoid pushing more people into financial distress and possible homelessness, including:


  1. A moratorium on evictions, mortgage foreclosures, utility shut offs, and new late payment fees now and for at least six months after the end of the pandemic

  2. A moratorium on homeless sweeps now and for at least six months after the end of the pandemic

  3. Expanded paid sick leave for all workers for the duration of this crisis

  4. An expansion of support and services for low-wage, contract, hourly, and gig-economy workers whose hours are reduced or whose jobs have been eliminated

  5. An extension of unemployment benefits for workers affected by the coronavirus or whose business is affected by the coronavirus and waiver of work search requirements for at least the next two months

  6. Coverage of costs for more residents for testing and treatment of coronavirus

  7. Removal of barriers to unemployment benefits and public benefits like SNAP

  8. Halting of debt collection activities by public and anchor institutions now and for at least six months after the end of the pandemic

  9. Emergency lending for small business

  10. Funding for rental assistance and childcare

  11. Full payment for permanent supportive housing services and advance payments on social services contracts to nonprofits now and for the next three months

  12. Increased funding for nonprofit organizations, many of whom have increased services while sacrificing revenue

  13. Removal of restrictions on grants to nonprofits to allow them maximum flexibility now and over the next six months


We believe these ideas can help provide a necessary framework of supports for our neighbors as we simultaneously think through how we co-create a region where our mutual well-being and public health are centered around equity, caring, and humanity for all. Local philanthropy is galvanizing to provide critical philanthropic support during this crisis – individually and collectively – but we know that the government’s resources and ability to address some of the barriers to people’s well-being far exceeds ours. We stand ready to support these efforts however we can.


Bainum Family Foundation

Consumer Health Foundation

Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation

Flamboyan Foundation

Greater Washington Community Foundation

Hill-Snowdon Foundation

Institute for Wise Philanthropy

The Lois and Richard England Family Foundation

Mizrahi Family Charitable Fund

National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association

Washington Area Women's Foundation

Weissberg Foundation

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