COVID-19 Response and Relief Efforts
NYSHealth has committed $5 million in funding to support COVID-19 response and relief efforts throughout New York State. Grants include contributions to numerous regional response funds, as well as support for statewide and local efforts to address emerging health care and public health needs in the wake of the pandemic.
As part of its commitment, the Foundation contributed to pooled response funds in regions throughout New York State that providing coordinated and timely support to meet the emerging needs of local communities and organizations. In addition, NYSHealth is supporting targeted grants that will meet the needs of some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers hit hardest by the pandemic. Funded projects will, for example, ensure seamless access to WIC and SNAP benefits, expand telehealth capabilities, help New Yorkers enroll in health insurance coverage, deliver health care and services to immigrant New Yorkers, and provide targeted support for frontline health care workers, veterans, isolated older adults, and formerly incarcerated New Yorkers.
I. Grants to Regional Response Funds
- NYC COVID-19 Response and Impact Fund
- Neighborhoods First Fund (NYC)
- Adirondack Foundation Special & Urgent Needs Fund
- Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley
- Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan
- COVID-19 Long Island Philanthropic Response Fund
- Capital Region Community COVID 19 Response Fund
- Central New York COVID-19 Community Support Fund
- United Way and Rochester Area Community Foundation Community Crisis Fund
- Westchester COVID-19 Response Fund
- WNY COVID-19 Community Response Fund
II. Targeted Response Grants
Improving food security and other social supports
Community Food Advocates will help New York City make full use of new flexibilities for enrollment and administration of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) included in the Family First Coronavirus Response Act.
Public Health Solutions, which administers the Neighborhood WIC Program in New York State, will seamlessly transition to a virtual model to ensure the uninterrupted provision of WIC benefits, including nutrition education, breastfeeding support, and WIC checks to purchase nutritious foods.
The Westside Campaign Against Hunger will continue food pantry operations and meet growing demand for older adults in a safe environment for clients and staff.
Active Citizens Project/Project Eats will be sourcing produce from their farms across New York City to distribute produce boxes and prepared foods to the Brownsville community.
Foodlink in Rochester will work with the Partnership for a Healthier America to get high-quality, fresh produce to residents in need. Its curbside market will also enable residents to use WIC, SNAP, and other incentive programs to purchase fresh food.
AdkAction in the North Country has created and distributed emergency food packages that contain one week’s worth of healthy meals. The food is purchased from local farms and delivered using paid local labor. AdkAction will serve more families by transitioning its meal distribution to a mobile market that accepts SNAP, Double Up Food Bucks, and other incentives.
The Center for Court Innovation operates programs in Brownsville, Brooklyn and East Harlem that have mobilized to support public housing residents during the pandemic. They will continue to work with tenant associations and other community organizations to do “last-mile” deliveries of prepared food, shelf-stable food, cleaning supplies, and protective gear like masks and gloves, as well as COVID-19 communications.
Pace-NRDC Food Law Initiative has launched a COVID-19 legal support project that helps farmers and nonprofits navigate the growing number of federal, state, and private relief programs; face legal challenges including the need to renegotiate leases and other contracts; and facilitate connections and formal agreements between farmers and hunger relief organizations so food is not thrown away but is distributed to those in need.
Robin Hood Foundation will ensure access to nutritional, housing, and medical resources for New Yorkers experiencing financial hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic. It will partner with New York Disaster Interfaith Services and NYC Health + Hospitals to connect patients with case management services, including cash assistance, referrals to local food resources, and additional medical and housing services.
Brotherhood/Sister Sol will provide emergency food and relief services to youth and their families, with a focus on communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Both in-person and online programming will focus on furthering food justice, promoting sustainability in New York City communities, and spurring activism and advocacy for greater food access in neighborhoods.
Field & Fork Network will increase the reach of its Double Up Food Bucks program to make healthy, nutritious foods more accessible and affordable to New Yorkers receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
New York State YMCA Foundation will equip YMCAs across the State with trainings, physical activity curriculum, and video lessons geared to school-age children. Activities will focus on helping children to identify healthy foods and increase their amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day.
Good Old Lower East Side will provide residents in the neighborhood with food and housing assistance and other social service supports, including information on tenants’ rights, food package deliveries to seniors in public housing developments, and enrollment in assistance programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and unemployment benefits.
Hunger Solutions New York will advocate for policies that expand access and reduce barriers to federal nutrition assistance programs for New Yorkers, with a focus on households with children, people of color, and those who are unemployed.
TakeRoot Justice will help ensure residents of East Harlem, Brownville, and the Lower East Side have access to safe, healthy housing and public spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Dunbar Association will connect youth, seniors, and families in Syracuse to healthy meals and social service supports, including academic support and enrichment opportunities to students and virtual exercise classes and healthy meal demonstrations for seniors.
The Massachusetts Avenue Project will support Black-led food and farming groups in New York State in advocating for equitable food policies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Volunteer Lawyers Project of Onondaga County will provide virtual advocacy for and legal services and representation to low- and moderate-income New Yorkers to help prevent evictions and homelessness.
The Community League of the Heights will help coordinate and provide healthy meals for food-insecure children and families in Washington Heights.
Teens for Food Justice will partner with community kitchens to provide fresh, nutritious food to food-insecure residents of Brownsville, Brooklyn, on a regular basis.
St. Lawrence County Health Initiative will will help replicate a program at additional food pantries to help bring items to homebound seniors and those with disabilities.
The Adirondack Foundation will coordinate with upstate farmers and community partners to deliver healthy produce to food-insecure families in the Bronx.
The Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation will increase its food relief services to families in need, doubling its distribution days per month for the community and coordinating a distribution schedule.
The New York Legal Assistance Group will address the legal needs of low-income New Yorkers struggling with housing security and family law issues who are referred by hospitals for assistance.
The Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy will partner with the Food Ed Coalition to survey New York City families with school children on their awareness and use of emergency school meals and food services.
Helping New Yorkers enroll in health insurance coverage
New York State has opened a special enrollment period so that lack of coverage is not a deterrent to needed testing, treatment, and other care. The Community Service Society manages the largest navigator network across New York State, which will work to enroll New Yorkers in health insurance, including Medicaid.
Ensuring immigrants’ access to care
Federal policies, particularly the newly instated public charge rule, have erected many barriers to immigrants seeking health care during a public health emergency. The New York Immigration Coalition will provide support to very small immigrant-serving organizations that are providing front-line assistance to marginalized communities during the pandemic.
Meeting veterans’ needs
The NYC Veterans Alliance serves as a centralized, go-to resource that will provide intake and assessment and connect veterans to health care, mental health, housing, legal, and other services.
Through its rapid response referral program, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America will provide direct peer support, comprehensive care management, and resource connections (for food and other basic needs, assistance with medical bills, and mental health, employment, and housing services) to veterans across New York State.
The Headstrong Project, which provides free mental health services to veterans, has transitioned to a telehealth model. It will operate online peer support groups to address isolation and anxiety, run online AA veteran support groups, and provide online meditation and mindfulness resources.
The Mission Continues combats social isolation and mental health issues among veterans. It is working with New York City’s Mission: VetCheck program to provide “buddy checks” and connect veterans to vital services. It will expand these efforts across the metro New York City region.
Team Rubicon mobilizes veterans to respond to disasters and humanitarian crises in their communities. As it helps with emergency food distribution, medical shelter support, and sanitizing clinics and shelters, it is also combating social isolation and promoting cohesion and connection among veterans.
America’s Warrior Partnership connects community organizations with local veterans to understand their unique situations. It will partner with Veterans One-stop Center of Western New York to reach veterans, their family members, and caregivers impacted by the pandemic.
Staten Island Performing Provider System will partner with local organizations, service providers, and veterans organizations to identify and support Staten Island veterans affected by the pandemic. Veterans will be referred and connected to necessary resources, including critical materials such as masks and health supplies; medical and social services; and food and housing security support programs.
WNY Heroes will provide veterans in Western New York with emergency food services and peer-to-peer support, connecting them to physical and mental health, financial, legal, and workforce development services to further assist them.
The Campaign Against Hunger will partner with New York City agencies and community-based organizations to pack and distribute nutritious food for veterans and their families facing severe hardships.
Expanding telehealth for small health care practices
With in-person visits limited, many health care providers are offering telehealth services. Many providers—especially smaller primary care practices with limited infrastructure—need assistance in understanding the guidance and rapidly scaling up their telehealth services. The Primary Care Development Corporation will support smaller practices across New York State to implement telehealth capabilities.
Addressing isolation among older adults
JASA (Jewish Association Serving the Aging), which provides home care, adult protective services, and community guardianship, will facilitate in-person and remote services that support preventive interventions.
Settlement houses provide an array of services, including housing, food, mental health, and social supports and programs for older adults. University Settlement, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, Henry Street Settlement, and Syracuse Model Neighborhood Facility (founded in the tradition of settlement houses) are quickly moving to virtual and telephone operations to continue case management, wellness checks, nursing triage, and the remote preparation of medical advance directives, as well as providing necessary in-person deliveries of meals, medications, and other supplies.
The New York Academy of Medicine will convene leaders of “Age-friendly Neighborhoods”—grassroots efforts driven by older people to improve neighborhoods—to provide solutions for communities: food access and distribution; access to information, communication and technology; access to health care and behavioral health services; and the prevention of social isolation during physical distancing.
United Way of Long Island will provide a free health and safety outreach program for seniors who are sheltering in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. In-home caregivers will provide critical services such as conducting screening assessments, assisting with daily tasks, and connecting seniors to loved ones and health care professionals over the internet.
Home Care Association of New York will connect home care systems and agencies and their patients to its statewide Virtual Senior Center, providing real-time interaction with peers; information and programming; and professional instruction on physical and mental health self-care and management.
Aiding frontline health care workers
Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital will rapidly expand an existing peer support network in Central New York that combats distress and burnout among clinicians. Given the unprecedented stress associated with COVID-19. Basset will accelerate the program’s statewide spread and train an additional 200 physician peer supporters, including by partnering with the Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY) and the American Nurses Association – New York. MSSNY will then assume further operation of the program statewide.
Vibrant Emotional Health provides on-the-ground mental health and emotional support in the aftermath of disasters, emergencies, and localized crises. It will provide virtual interactive training on coping with high stress, psychological first aid, and vicarious trauma in partnership with trade associations in human services and behavioral health.
The Physician Affiliate Group of New York (PAGNY) is one of the largest physician groups in the nation. Its members provide health care in New York City’s public hospitals as well as in correctional facilities. NYSHealth funding will expand its Frontline Emotional Supports Program to provide emotional support, peer support, and mental health first aid programs to reach thousands of public hospital workers who are suffering from trauma in the wake of the pandemic.
Supporting formerly incarcerated New Yorkers
The Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES) will expand and sustain primary care and behavioral health telehealth services for criminal justice-involved youth and adults with mental illness at its East Harlem clinic, including individuals recently released as a result of the pandemic. Services will motivate engagement among justice-involved Black and Latinx males.
Osborne Association will provide remote programming and services, including a reentry hotline in New York City and Buffalo and adapting its technical assistance and training activities to provide virtual programs for leadership and frontline staff of child welfare agencies that work with the children of incarcerated people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Fortune Society will continue to provide wellness check-ins and outreach to current and former clients to assess their health and service needs; to support virtual discharge planning and reentry services for individuals being released from Rikers Island jail, including providing housing to individuals at its newest housing facility in West Harlem; and connecting and enrolling clients in health and food access benefits.
Bolstering local health departments’ capacity
The New York State Association of County Health Officers (NYSACHO) will provide support to rural health departments in areas of technical assistance; public health communications; and resources for surveillance, testing, contact tracing, and, eventually, vaccination programs. Mini-grants to rural local health departments will provide flexible dollars to complement enhanced funding from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Gathering information on COVID-19 and analyzing its impact
The RAND Corporation will use microsimulation and epidemiological models to predict the impact of COVID-19 on health insurance coverage, premiums, and costs to New York State.
Common Ground Health will help implement a community-based health screening tool for tracking COVID-19 throughout the Finger Lakes region of New York State. It will expand enrollment in this initiative to track symptoms among under-represented populations, including Black and Latinx communities, rural residents, and young adults.
Legal Action Center will work to improve COVID-19 contact tracing by strengthening privacy protections for New Yorkers, providing technical assistance to New York State and City agencies on how to implement and improve privacy protections and comply with existing laws.
Fund for Public Health in New York will conduct a study on the risk factors for COVID-19 infection among New York City adults. Findings will be shared with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to better understand the risk factors that are more likely to lead to infection and develop guidelines to limit the spread as the City reopens.
Public Good Projects will expand its Project VCTR (Vaccine Communication Tracking and Response) to track and monitor mentions of vaccines and provide essential information to health officials and practitioners working to end this pandemic.
The New York Academy of Medicine will pilot a virtual public deliberation model for New Yorkers to share with policymakers their views on and preferences for COVID-19 vaccine access.