Echoing Green hosted a discussion on the impacts of COVID-19 featuring experts from the nonprofit, public health, and private sectors. Knowing that the global crisis is exacerbating pre-existing inequities, our panelists examined lessons learned from previous public health and economic crises, explored the critical role of social entrepreneurs in addressing systems failures, and elevated why proximal voices should be centered in decision-making in order to build an equitable post-COVID world. Read on for three takeaways from the discussion:
3 Ways to Work Toward Equity After COVID-19
1. Trust and invest in community leaders who are best equipped to understand and address the inequities that existed before, during, and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Everywhere I turn, be it philanthropists, venture capitalists, private equity firms, they’re all hunkered down, kind of focused on their own internal set of issues and are reluctant to really extend themselves into new ventures… I think one of the roles we can play, where we operate with the Fellows we have in the field, is connecting some of the dots and helping people understand that there are people such as Raj and many, many other Fellows that are out there deployed with functioning organizations that are perfectly capable of stepping up if they have the resources to do so to help put the world back together again.”
Chairman and Partner at Union Square Advisors
Echoing Green Board Co-Chair
2. Make unrestricted philanthropic grants.
“On the philanthropic side, there has been writing on some counter-cyclical grantmaking. They’ve looked back at the 2008 downturn and a few funders who actually didn’t decrease but really leaned in. Kudos to groups like The California Endowment who did not retrench, who did not pull back, and did the kinds of grantmaking processes that I hope some of us are experiencing—where they’re really focused on unrestricted funding, they’re relaxing particular deliverables because everyone understands that this is all hands on deck because we’ve got to do this transformational work that is required.”
Cheryl L. Dorsey
President of Echoing Green
3. Reimagine front-line leadership to include, leverage, and elevate communities most affected and impacted by crises.
“If we do this the right way, we could deal with contact tracing issues and the other components that are needed to box in the virus, and make sure that community-based organizations, community health workers, those like GirlTrek, like CareMessage that are working with these front-line providers are actually responding now and strengthened for the long-term needs that are there. It’s very different to hire 20,000 first-year medical students who’ve deferred first-year medical school for contact tracing than it is to give grant funding to the GirlTreks and the CareMessages and many other organizations across this country that could do the same work but will hire people from the most affected communities. And when COVID’s done and boxed in then they will still be there to ensure that health care can be reimagined for those communities because they’re proximal organizations.”
Founder and CEO of Last Mile Health
Echoing Green board member and 2011 Fellow