By Jennifer W. Aronson, Associate Vice President, Programs
The past 14 months have been an unprecedented confluence of crises for Greater Boston nonprofits. The intense personal, organizational and systemic disruptions of COVID-19, intensified racial injustice and economic inequity have been a brutal 1-2-3 punch to the entire sector - one so intense it’s easy to forget just how stressed and stretched nonprofit partners felt even before the pandemic. Since 2016, we’ve seen the level of exhaustion and burnout among many nonprofit partners increase as they’ve fought tirelessly and relentlessly for our communities, many of which have been under attack on multiple fronts. These crises intensified those impacts, and laid them disproportionately on BIPOC communities and leaders, particularly those running social justice-focused organizations that have not enjoyed the same level and consistency of funding as have their white-led counterparts. Completely focused on and dedicated to their work and the need in their communities, few of these leaders have capacity or resources to support staff wellness.
This is why we are launching the TBF Wellness Fund. This pilot fund is designed to respond to rising levels of staff stress and trauma experienced by frontline, social justice focused organizations by offering a subset of 11 community-based grantees the opportunity for supplemental grants to support staff well-being. Via the COVID-19 Response Fund, we are providing grants of up to $10,000 per organization to these grantees to invest in efforts that promote staff health, well-being and resilience, to address burnout, and to create a culture of collective care. These resources can be used to address immediate, one-time needs or to develop ongoing practices that support healing in the ways that these organizations define for themselves.
As with many other grants made from the TBF COVID-19 Response Fund, these grants will have no formal application process, or require formal reporting. However, our staff will actively listen to learn from grantees about how the funds were used and their perceived impact, as we consider the potential to expand this kind of support in the future.
We are so grateful for the fight for equity and justice nonprofit leaders across Greater Boston continue to wage on behalf of our communities and look forward to sharing what we learn from this pilot.
With thanks to Holly Bartling at the General Service Foundation of Berkeley, CA for her guidance in the development of this fund.