General News

SNF Distributes $31 Million First Round of Grants to Reach Areas Hardest Hit by COVID-19

NEW YORK – The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) has announced the first round of grants under its $100 million Global Relief Initiative to help alleviate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thirty-five grants totaling over $31 million focus on food, mental health, and health needs in some of the hardest-hit regions of the United States and Europe, as well as worldwide, and on aiding health care staff on the front lines in Greece.

We cannot overstate the impact of the pandemic on society at large, and we owe our deepest gratitude to those who continue, in spite of the immense challenges they face daily, to serve the most vulnerable among us,” said SNF Co-President Andreas Dracopoulos. “Within our lifetimes, the need has never been greater. Our collective response will have to be both swift and forward-looking; these immediate grants represent the first step from SNF on a long path, as the effects of the pandemic will be with us for a long time.” 


SNF grants totaling $5.93 million, made to both individual nonprofit organizations and collaborative funds, focus on ensuring access to food and other essentials, offering mental health support to populations specially affected, and providing emergency relief to artists.

Mike Dahl, Executive Director of Broad Street Ministry (BSM), one of these organizations, remarked, “BSM’s guests are among the most vulnerable populations during this pandemic. It is hard to shelter at home when you have no home to which to go. The generosity and timeliness of SNF’s support will mean we can continue to provide life-saving services during this unprecedented time.

Access to Food 

As unemployment rises precipitously in areas under stay-at-home orders, the longstanding financial insecurity faced by many is coming to a head in the form of food insecurity, even as pandemic-related closures at certain service providers dramatically increase the demands on others. Grants, totaling $1.63 million, include:

  • Broad Street Ministry, Philadelphia: Providing food and hygiene products to unsheltered populations, as one of few relevant providers remaining open in the city
  • City Harvest, New York City: Rescuing and distributing millions of pounds of food 
  • Citymeals on Wheels, New York City: Delivering nutritious meals to tens of thousands of older New Yorkers and checking on their welfare
  • Coalition for the Homeless, New York City: Providing around a thousand meals daily, prepaid cards for personal hygiene supplies, and masks to residents of homeless shelters
  • God’s Love We Deliver, New York City: Delivering nearly 10,000 medically tailored meals a day to New Yorkers with serious illnesses
  • Kingsbridge Heights Community Center, New York City: Offering a food pantry and gift cards for essentials like diapers
  • Safe Horizon, New York City: Providing shelter, food, clothing, and hygiene facilities to young people experiencing homelessness
  • Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center, New York City: Delivering and offering food for elderly and low-income residents of the Upper East Side and East Harlem
SNF believes we achieve more when we collaborate, and has also made a $2 million grant to the poverty-fighting organization Robin Hood, which pools resources to assist the low-income New York families and individuals who are being disproportionately affected by the pandemic. The Robin Hood Relief Fund provides assistance related to food, housing, children, immigration, income security, and health. SNF is grateful to Robin Hood’s CEO Wes Moore and his team for their partnership in this rapid response.

Mental Health Support

The deleterious effects of the pandemic on mental health are widespread and will be an ongoing focus of SNF’s relief initiative. In this first round, SNF grants totaling $1.5 million will go toward immediate psychological support for frontline workers, seniors, children, and other vulnerable populations:

  • American Cancer Society, United States: Providing accommodation to healthcare staff resting and self-isolating with nearly a thousand rooms across the country
  • Center to Advance Palliative Care, United States: Helping address the strain faced by healthcare providers through free online COVID-19 resources that offer guidance on managing symptoms and improving communication with critically ill patients and their families
  • Fund for Public Health in NYC, New York City: Checking in with elderly and homebound New Yorkers, as well as offering other essential health programs
  • New Alternatives for Children, New York City: Providing mental health support, medical care and other essentials to thousands of children with disabilities, chronic illnesses, and mental health diagnoses, as well as their families
  • Service Program for Older People, New York City: Providing mental health services to thousands of older New Yorkers remotely
Emergency Relief for Artists

With performance venues and cultural institutions abruptly shuttered, artists and arts organizations face sudden precarity at a time when they are called to be agents of community wellbeing. SNF support totaling $800,000 for three collaborative funds will help get emergency relief to individual artists and small to medium-sized arts organizations:

  • Dance/NYC, New York City: Supporting hundreds of individual dancers and dance organizations in NYC with emergency funding through the organization’s COVID-19 Dance Relief Fund
  • Swiss Institute, New York City: Sustaining 15 NYC organizations that support artists, including the Swiss Institute, through a collaborative fund which it helps steward
  • United States Artists, United States: Disbursing emergency $5,000 grants for essential needs to individual artists around the U.S. through the Artist Relief fund the organization helps steward

Working in collaboration with Bloomberg Philanthropies, SNF will make a $3 million grant to Vital Strategies’ Resolve to Save Lives initiative. This will enable rapid-response grants to governments across Africa to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, including understanding the impact of social distancing on hunger and communication and dissemination of accurate health information. The grant will also provide support directly to frontline workers throughout Africa, including vital infection control training.

Bloomberg Philanthropies’ public health program lead, Dr. Kelly Henning, said, “The public health and economic impacts of COVID-19 call for a global response. While we are in an unprecedented moment, Vital Strategies has proven time and time again their ability to coordinate and mobilize life-saving public health efforts. The work SNF is expanding support of is needed now more than ever to help frontline workers and governments respond in the fight against this deadly virus.” 


To further its immediate efforts to help the vulnerable around the globe, SNF has made a flexible $3 million grant to aid UNICEF’s global COVID-19 response initiatives in the key areas of educational access, psychological services, and supporting those on the front lines with protective equipment and basic emergency supplies. SNF is grateful to Executive Director Henrietta Fore and UNICEF’s team for their collaboration. UNICEF’s unparalleled network, including the organization’s Supply Division that operates the world’s largest emergency supply warehouse, makes it uniquely suited to getting vital goods out quickly where they are needed most.


SNF grants totaling more than $13 million focus on helping deliver food, basic necessities, psychological resources, and direct support to people in France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain.


Access to Food and Mental Health Support

Grants totaling over $1.35 million include:

  • Associazione CasAmica, Italy: Providing psychological support to the community and supporting emergency relief at its care home in Lecco
  • CRESCER, Portugal: Delivering hundreds of meals from a social enterprise restaurant to people on the streets
  • Barça Foundation, Spain/Catalonia: Offering food and psychosocial support through Red Cross Catalonia, particularly for the elderly and those experiencing homelessness, and through the Government of Catalonia’s food program for vulnerable children 
  • EMERGENCY, Italy: Running permanent and mobile care clinics in nine regions of Italy, enabling them to continue supporting over 8,000 patients facing Covid-19 who would lack access to information and essential care
  • Enfance et Partage, France: Aiming to prevent child abuse through psychological support
  • Fondazione Progetto Arca, Italy: Providing food, shelter, and essentials to people experiencing homelessness, the elderly, and families in need
  • The French Red Cross, France: Distributing emergency food aid and referrals for psychological support through tens of thousands of staff and volunteers
  • Grandes Amigos, Spain: Offering remote emotional support to nearly a thousand seniors through the efforts of as many volunteers
  • The Italian Red Cross, Italy: Distributing food and hygiene kits to struggling families and offering a 24/7 psychological support phone line that receives thousands of calls each day
  • The Spanish Red Cross, Spain: Distributing food and essentials at the country level
Javier Senent, President of the Spanish Red Cross remarked, "The COVID-19 pandemic has created a situation of vulnerability in all areas of society that requires comprehensive intervention, as well as knowing how to articulate it effectively and efficiently so that it arrives as quickly, in the best way, to as many people as possible, without discrimination. That is why we greatly thank those who join the Red Cross RESPONDE Plan, a plan that belongs to everyone, to overcome this crisis together."


Greece has a special place in SNF’s heart and work, being our birthplace. Particularly cognizant of the fact that Greece was in the process of starting to overcome a deep ten-year socioeconomic crisis, SNF has given special care to addressing immediate needs and risks specific to the nation in collaboration with the public sector. SNF grants totaling nearly $11.9 million seek to help address these needs.

Access to Food 

  • Central Union of Greek Municipalities (KEDE), Greece: Providing food supplies through Social Food Outlets in municipalities around Greece for the immediate support of people suffering from the socioeconomic effects of the pandemic. The grant will be implemented with the collaboration and supervision of Deloitte to ensure fast, effective, and transparent distribution of the supplies. 
  • Boroume, Greece: Implementing a transparent voucher system in coordination with Greek municipalities to provide impacted families with food in the middle term of the crisis, from September to December 2020 
Mental Health Support 
  • A comprehensive effort with the Greek Ministry of Health to provide psychological support in response to needs engendered by the COVID-19 pandemic 
Direct Support for Frontline Greek Hospital Staff

Under the current circumstances, the Foundation is taking the extraordinary step of providing $8.1 million in support directly to the most critical element of the country’s health system: individual hospital staff. An SNF gesture of appreciation to be shared equally among nearly 5,000 frontline nurses, doctors, and cleaning personnel working in ICUs at COVID-19 clinics will acknowledge the altruistic efforts of these heroes on the front line of efforts against the pandemic in Greece who risk their lives to save others.

Bolstering health infrastructure in Greece through collaboration with the public sector is a longtime and continuing focus for SNF, which is already in the middle of a more than $400 million Health Initiative in the country. As part of this effort, renovation of the second ICU and the ER at Evangelismos Hospital in Athens is underway through a partnership between SNF and Thanasis and Marina Martinos.


Getting funds quickly to those who need support most has been the guiding principle of SNF’s first round of grants. As we move forward, the Foundation is looking to assess quickly how it can most effectively help alleviate the growing socioeconomic effects of the crisis, including impacts on essential supplies, mental health, and education. At the same time, the Foundation is working on supporting the key research and planning efforts that will lead us forward. 

Our ability to track the spread of the disease will be critical to how the coming months take shape. SNF is proud to support Johns Hopkins University with a $3 million grant in the immediate launch of a much-needed COVID-19 Testing Insights Initiative to provide governments, businesses, and the public with comprehensive testing data paired with expert analysis and guidance. The initiative is the outcome of longtime collaboration between SNF and many areas of Johns Hopkins University, including the Berman Institute of Bioethics, and will provide efficient access to the information needed to make crucial decisions moving forward.

These grants join a $3 million grant to The Rockefeller University in New York City that was announced with the launch of SNF’s pandemic relief initiative. Expanding on a longstanding partnership for research and medicine, the grant bolsters round-the-clock research related to COVID-19 and the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes it underway in 18 Rockefeller labs.

A pandemic, global by definition, requires a truly global response. SNF is committed to doing our part to help move this massive effort forward with speed and transparency, and to collaborating with our partners to maximize the positive impact of our work together.


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