September 22, 2020
Our Response to the Pandemic and Racial Inequity
During these uncertain times, the Board and staff of the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation send our best wishes to you and your staff and the people you serve. Like you, this year, the Fry Foundation is thinking about how to respond in this moment when dramatic racial inequities are starkly exposed by the pandemic.
The Fry Foundation has already been keenly aware of the significant inequities in our city – they are at the heart of all our work. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has had disruptive and sometimes destructive impacts on the work of all of our grantees.
Addressing racial inequity is at the core of almost all of the Foundation’s grantmaking. Addressing the needs of communities of color was a clear priority of the Fry Foundation long before I arrived, and since I have been here, it has continued to be a driving priority. The Foundation does not explicitly state that our four main program areas were chosen specifically to address racial discrimination and inequity. However, they are among the areas most affected by historical structural racism: discriminatory housing, mortgage redlining, inequitable school funding, declining investments in public transit and economic development, and employment discrimination.
Our racial lens is deeply ingrained and intertwined with all our strategies. It is in the context of multi-layered systems that Fry Foundation grantees work, and this is the context for our racial lens. We regularly ask ourselves, what more should we do? What are some gaps we should look at more carefully? These discussions are a starting point, not a conclusion. Improving our racial lens is one of those things that are “never done.”
At the core of our mission is recognition that public policies and private practices embody and perpetuate the effects of long-standing structural racism. These are the persistent problems the Fry Foundation continues to address today.
Our response to the current climate is not conclusive or comprehensive. However, since March, we have taken the following steps to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and racial inequity:
- We contributed to the COVID-19 Response Fund
- We converted Health grants to General operating support
We Awarded Grants to Fifteen Organizations to Advance Racial Justice
The Fry Foundation Education program awarded grants to four organizations to respond to the COVID-19 crisis impact on Chicago Public Schools
Our Administrative Staff Selected three Organizations to Support in the Aftermath of the Protests on May 30th