The global COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented event. As both the crisis and our collective response unfold, we must acknowledge that the impacts of the pandemic are both immediate and far-reaching. And that they will undoubtedly be felt most profoundly by those in our communities who are most vulnerable.
To say that this is a period of uncertainty would be a significant understatement. It’s clear that we are in uncharted waters. We are all adapting and adjusting as new information, statistics and directives emerge on a daily — if not hourly — basis.
As we continue to navigate these uncertain times, there are things that we can do with the tools and resources already at our disposal to support our communities right now. At the Lawson Foundation, this first step included lifting restrictions on all existing grants and accelerating scheduled payments, so that grantees can deploy resources where they are most needed right now. We’ve also suspended all reporting requirements and encouraged our grantees and partners to reach out if they are facing particular challenges. Other funders are also taking a similar approach and Philanthropic Foundations Canada is working at facilitating communication and sharing of information among private foundations across the country.
As a next step, the Lawson Foundation is immediately committing $2.7 million to support a number of rapid-response initiatives related to the pandemic and those most impacted by the physical distancing protocols that are in place as we continue to “flatten the curve.”
This includes a partnership with the London Community Foundation in launching a COVID-19 Response Fund to support immediate needs in and around London, where the Foundation has its roots.
We are also making rapid and unrestricted contributions to targeted community-led initiatives across Canada that are providing critical support for people and communities that are significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We will be working with our Indigenous partners and other funders to identify the best way that we can support Indigenous communities – who are likely to be disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
And as we recognize that we will need to adapt to a quickly changing environment in the coming weeks and months, and that more will need to be done, funds will be allocated to a second phase of support.
In addition to these immediate next steps, the Lawson Foundation will continue to work with other philanthropic foundations, funders and community partners to share information, practices and resources as our collective response continues to adapt to changing circumstances.