New York Health Foundation Commits $5 Million for COVID-19 Response Efforts

Contact: Stephany Fong,

June 11, 2020, New York, NY – The New York Health Foundation (NYHealth) has committed an additional $3 million in funding to support COVID-19 response and relief efforts throughout New York State, bringing its total investment to $5 million.

“As the magnitude of the pandemic became clearer, the Foundation wanted to do more for the New Yorkers hardest hit by COVID-19,” said Ellen Rautenberg, Chair of NYHealth’s Board of Directors.

NYHealth’s grants will support services and programs to meet the needs of some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers: addressing mental health needs among military veterans, older adults, and health care workers; expanding food assistance in communities from Brownsville, Brooklyn to Rochester to the North Country; and providing case management, housing, and other services for formerly incarcerated New Yorkers. The Foundation will also work to address certain statewide needs; for example, a grant to the New York State Association of County Health Officers (NYSACHO) will provide additional resources to local public health departments, which provide critical services like public health messaging, surveillance, testing, and contact tracing.

A sampling of newly approved grants follows (see the full list of NYHealth’s COVID-19 grants here):

  • 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.
  • Settlement houses provide an array of services, including housing, food, mental health, and social supports for older adult New Yorkers. University Settlement, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, 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.
  • Foodlink in Rochester—one of New York State’s largest and most innovative food banks—will work with the Partnership for a Healthier America to get high-quality, fresh produce to residents in need. Its curbside market also enables 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, including furloughed food industry workers. AdkAction will serve more families by transitioning its meal distribution to a mobile market that accepts SNAP, Double Up Food Bucks, and other incentives.
  • 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, Bassett will accelerate the program’s statewide spread and train an additional 200 physician peer supporters. The Medical Society of the State of New York will then assume further operation of the program statewide.
  • 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.

“The communities that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 will require even more support and attention on the road to recovery,” said David Sandman, Ph.D., President and CEO of NYHealth. “It’s critical that we do what we can to support our neighbors in need.”

This newly authorized $3 million in grants complements the Foundation’s initial $2 million investment in COVID-19 relief and response efforts, which included contributions to numerous regional response funds, as well as support for statewide and local efforts to address emerging health care and public health needs.

Learn more about the grants.

NYHealth Statement on Racial Justice and Health

The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has produced another painful reckoning for America with racism. Communities of color rightly live in fear that they will not receive equal justice.

As an organization focused on health, we know that race matters. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on people of color. Death rates and hospitalization rates in New York City are more than twice as high for black residents as for their white counterparts. Health disparities by race and ethnicity are pervasive and persistent. African Americans and Hispanics are less likely to have health insurance and adequate access to care, and they are more likely to experience chronic health conditions and premature death.

We share the pain and sadness being felt with our fellow New Yorkers. We hope the anguish of the moment creates lasting change for the better. We are proud of our grantees and partners working to create a more equitable health system for all. We will continue to listen to, learn from, and support the people and organizations leading the way forward.


David Sandman, Ph.D.
President and CEO
New York Health Foundation