My Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Today, all around us, we see the heroic efforts of so many exceptional individuals and organizations as they respond to COVID-19 with selflessness, dedication, and urgency. Their ranks include many of our grantees. To all of them, we express our admiration and gratitude.  

In this sixth week of working remotely, the Corporation is fully operational and responding to the emergency needs of our grantees with greater flexibility. We are reviewing developments in our program areas of democracy, international peace and security, African higher education, and education. In the realm of our national education program alone, our grantees have faced widespread disruption, requiring the need for our collaboration, expert guidance, and the reallocation of funding.

Let me illustrate with some examples. Our long-term grantees working with online learning platforms have stepped up with new and expanded resources. Among them, Khan Academy and Zearn Math recorded dramatic spikes in weekly traffic, and TalkingPoints made its mobile messaging app free to help schools reach families in 44 languages. Through the Learning Accelerator, we helped launch a free coaching program for teachers transitioning to remote learning, and we sponsored a telephone town hall hosted by the national PTA and the American Federation of Teachers to develop strategies for supporting the emotional well-being of students, teachers, and parents that reached an audience of around 60,000.

While honoring our current commitments to our grantees, we have also responded to the urgent needs of New York City’s most vulnerable communities with support for those nonprofits that provide social services as well as cultural programs. Last month, the Corporation made a multimillion-dollar grant to the NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund as part of a philanthropic collaboration administered by the New York Community Trust. The partnership has raised $95 million and thus far awarded $44 million in grants and no-interest loans to help 276 nonprofits continue their important work. Potential donors and small and midsize organizations can learn more through the Trust.  

In addition, the Corporation has made a number of grants to support essential as well as cultural services. These include relief assistance for refugee camps through Mercy Corps, PBS NewsHour coronavirus coverage, and Times Square’s New Victory Theater for children. We are increasing our longstanding support for higher education with grants to the country’s largest urban university, City University of New York, whose Chancellor has created an emergency relief fund to assist students struggling with food and housing insecurity and lack of access to health care. Additional support will assist immediate needs at City College, Baruch College, and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism.

While addressing current crises, our program staff continue their strategic work. Together with our grantees, they are monitoring a rapidly changing world, analyzing the pandemic’s national and international implications. For additional information about the impact of Carnegie Corporation of New York’s grantmaking, you may sign up to receive our newsletters.

Our past, current, and future work is inspired and guided by the vision of our founder, Andrew Carnegie, to do “real and permanent good in this world.” To this end, he established some 20 institutions worldwide with the expectation that each would contribute its share to society’s advancement. Today, Carnegie’s quest is reflected in our sister institutions’ respective responses to COVID-19. Let me provide three examples: Carnegie Mellon University is working with Facebook and Google to track coronavirus activity; Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is providing expert information and analysis on the global pandemic; and Carnegie Hall is offering a free, online music curriculum for children.

I began this letter and will end it by expressing once again our gratitude to all who have joined together to face the challenges of the pandemic. I am sure that united we will prevail.


Vartan Gregorian
President, Carnegie Corporation of New York