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Philanthropy Roundtable members recommend ways to help Harvey recovery

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Message from Philanthropy Roundtable President Adam Meyerson:

On August 25, Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Gulf Coast, affecting millions of people throughout Texas and eventually Louisiana. The world watched and began to immediately discuss recovery efforts. It was truly amazing to watch Texans come together – neighbors helping neighbors, first responders leaping to immediate action, and thousands of individuals and organizations donating time and money.

Many Philanthropy Roundtable members from the Gulf Coast personally spent days operating chainsaws, volunteering in shelters, and rescuing friends and strangers. One of our members is sharing his home with a family he has never met before. Our members in the region have been giving substantial support to the immediate relief work of the American Red Cross, Samaritan’s Purse, the Association of Community Assistance Ministries (a network of Houston faith-based agencies), and other organizations.

The Philanthropy Roundtable reached out to our members, donors and foundation partners in Texas and Louisiana to learn how funders in other states could be most helpful. The outpouring of responses was tremendous, serving to reinforce that the Roundtable family relies on this important network to effect real change. (We will be sending a similar inquiry to our Florida members.)

We have collected the suggestions we received and want to share them with you in the hopes that they will assist your own giving as you evaluate how you can help. A few key organizations are listed below – these are places that were commonly mentioned in many of the emails we received. However, a full list of recommended options can be found on our website: and will be updated regularly as we receive additional information.

  • Greater Houston Community Foundation: administering the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund established by Mayor Sylvester Turner; focusing on shelter and temporary housing needs, food and supplies, healthcare, transportation, child care, and the facility needs of child care and social service agencies
  • Rebuild Texas: founded by the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, in partnership with the One Star Foundation and Texas Governor Greg Abbott; focusing on health and housing, schools and child care, workforce and transportation, and capital for rebuilding small businesses
  • Houston Food Bank: opportunities for individual donations as well as organizations that wish to become temporary partner agencies to ensure food and supplies are getting to those who need it most
  • Team Rubicon: pairs the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders, medical professionals, and technology solutions to provide relief to those affected by natural disasters
  • Community Foundation of South West Louisiana: directing resources to the smaller towns in Southwest Louisiana (Lake Charles) and across the border into East Texas (Port Arthur, Beaumont, and Orange communities)
  • KIPP Houston Family Emergency Fund and YES Prep Family Flood Relief Fund: national donors with an interest in K-12 education reform may want to consider supporting the relief funds set up by two of the country’s highest-performing charter school networks. The 28 KIPP and 17 YES Prep schools in Houston are all open, but the families of many students and staff need food, clothing, temporary shelter, and personal items.
  • EMERGE Relief Fund: Houston-based non-profit focused on preparing high-achieving students from underserved communities to attend and graduate from the nation’s top colleges and universities. Many of these students and their families are facing homelessness, food insecurity, and a shortage of other necessities.

Many funders in Texas are now assessing their strategies for long-term recovery. As Bruce Esterline, senior vice president at The Meadows Foundation and one of our members put it, "After the need for front line assistance abates, then the major relief organizations have to be recapitalized to be ready for the next disasters. What we have seen from earlier large-scale disasters, the local communities will set up or designate a few organizations to be responsible for channeling public and private resources into the long-term rebuilding effort. This will take weeks to set up and then they need to be capitalized for years. That’s really when we will need outside philanthropic assistance that can be strategically deployed."

As we are talking about Harvey in the Gulf, we must now also focus on Irma in Florida. The Philanthropy Roundtable will be sending out a similar call this week for input from our members in the Southeast. Once we have assembled information on how you can provide assistance in that region of the country, we will share it with you.

With warm regards and appreciation for all you do,

Adam Meyerson
President, The Philanthropy Roundtable

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