First Efforts at Emergency Relief

Theresa Preston-Werner

March 23 2020

We find ourselves faced with a new crisis—COVID-19—that threatens the world’s health and well-being. This is a moment of urgency, and this morning, Tom and I deployed $1 million toward efforts to fight against the virus and its effects.

At Preston-Werner Ventures, our philanthropic investment concentrates on international efforts. From this lens, we have expertise in understanding long-standing challenges contributing to economic and social imbalances of power and resulting in climate change. Working at this level often means thinking about slow-moving pieces. This foray into emergency relief is the first time we have made such quick funding decisions.

We believe that one role philanthropists can play is to step up early and fill gaps or fund initial models while governments work through their red-tape and determine their own courses of action. With this in mind, we are focusing our first efforts in San Francisco, one of the regions in the U.S. first hit by COVID-19. Our donations are spread equally across four organizations:

  1. UCSF Medical Center—funding the needs of frontline healthcare workers, including paying for hotel rooms so they can rest and not infect their own families. Give now.
  2. Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital—funding the needs of frontline health workers, including the procurement of PPE. Give now.
  3. YMCA of San Francisco—funding free childcare for healthcare workers and essentialworkers, including care for ages 0-5. Give now.
  4. GIVE2SF—funding grocery gift cards for undocumented residents and mixed-status households, low-income households with a pregnant woman or infant, and elderly adults without support. Give now.

Yet we cannot focus solely on what is at our front door. Our team is mobilizing with our public health grant recipients worldwide to determine how Preston-Werner Ventures can best help. I know other funders are similarly pushing to know how they can support on-the-ground work.

This is the beginning of the fight. Now is an excellent time to get involved at whatever level and in whatever way you can. Our involvement, our government’s response, and the programs we all fund will serve as models for the rest of the country and likely the world.