BOSTON - Friday, September 29, 2017 - Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Boston Foundation today announced the creation of the Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico Fund. Hosted in partnership with the Latino Legacy Fund and civic leaders of Boston's Puerto Rican community, Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico will be dedicated to the relief and reconstruction of Puerto Rico and to support any Puerto Ricans arriving in Boston and the Commonwealth as a result of the destruction from Hurricane Maria.
"Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the Puerto Rican people, those who live here and those who are on the island, as they recover from the devastating impacts of Hurricane Maria," Mayor Walsh said. "We have been in close communication with officials from Puerto Rico and, with such a strong Puerto Rican community here in Boston, they know we are here to help, for as long as they need."
Initial gifts will be used as challenge grants to the community for a wide-ranging fundraising appeal. Up to one third of funds raised will be immediately distributed for relief efforts and the remainder of the fund will be deployed over the next year, through 2018, for reconstruction and economic recovery projects in Puerto Rico and to support resettlement efforts in Boston and the Commonwealth.
"The humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico is so severe that it will be months if not years before the island fully recovers. The Boston Foundation is committed to joining with Puerto Rican community of Greater Boston, which has done so much for our city and region, as it seeks to provide immediate relief and long-term support." said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation.
Vanessa Calderón-Rosado will chair the Advisory Committee overseeing the fund, with Mayor Walsh and Governor Charlie Baker serving as honorary co-chairs and House Ways and Means Chair Representative Jeffrey Sánchez as honorary vice chair. The Advisory Committee will also include Aixa Beauchamp and Juan Carlos Morales from the Latino Legacy Fund, and experts from the Massachusetts Puerto Rican diaspora community.
"The American citizens in Puerto Rico are facing a monumental crisis that requires immediate action from our community, our civic leaders and our elected officials," said Vanessa Calderón-Rosado. "We are ready to raise very needed funds to help the reconstruction of the island. We are grateful for the immediate outpour of support for this important effort."
Donors already committed to supporting the fund include Tufts Health Plan Foundation, Thomas Melendez and Aixa Beauchamp, MFS, EOS Foundation, Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham Health, Spaulding Rehabilitations Network, Partners Healthcare, Steward Healthcare System LLC, the Latino Legacy Fund and the Boston Foundation. Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico will focus on gathering philanthropic support from corporations, foundations and individual donors in order to deploy resources to Puerto Rico quickly and effectively.
"Our hearts break for the people of Puerto Rico and their Massachusetts-based families and friends, whose lives were turned upside down by the devastation of these merciless hurricanes," said Governor Baker. "As the proud home of one of the largest groups of Puerto Rican American communities in the country, the Commonwealth is pleased to join the City of Boston and the Boston Foundation to create the 'Massachusetts Puerto Rico Fund.' We stand ready to extend heartfelt welcomes to disaster survivors who seek temporary or permanent residence in Massachusetts and will provide any and all personnel and equipment requested throughout the recovery process. Lieutenant Governor Polito and I encourage all in Massachusetts to join us in supporting Governor Rosselló and our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico throughout this incredibly challenging time."
"The apocalypse hit Puerto Rico and Puerto Rico's people are crying for help," said Representative Jeffrey Sánchez. "The Puerto Rican community within our Commonwealth of Massachusetts is rallying with Gov. Baker, Mayor Walsh and myself to guarantee that the community's vision becomes a reality. That vision is to assure that we rally together and help those individuals and organizations who are making a difference on the ground and helping the people of Puerto Rico. Together, we can make a lasting impact on the lives of Puerto Rican families from our Commonwealth of Massachusetts to our sister Commonwealth in the Caribbean."
Massachusetts has the 5th largest population of Puerto Ricans in the continental United States. In Boston, 32,226 residents identify as Puerto Rican and 25.1 percent of Boston's Latino population identify as Puerto Rican.
More information on Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico can be found here. Please visit boston.gov for more information on how to find loved ones and more information about volunteer efforts.