Comic Relief USA (CRUSA) through the Red Nose Day Fund (RNDF) has committed $1 million over two years to lift up locally-led organizations in Puerto Rico to address the needs of children and families living in poverty. Through a donor advised fund (DAF) managed by Fundación Comunitaria de Puerto Rico (FCPR), grants will be made to community-based organizations that serve children in both rural and urban communities. Five organizations will be awarded the first round of grants totaling $450,000 by the end of February 2020, with a second round of grants to follow in 2021. The programs supported from this fund will address early childhood education, mental health and resilience development, preventative medical care (physical, mental, emotional), improved access to clean water and solar energy, and agriculture and food sovereignty. Ultimately, the fund will enable these organizations to impact 4,000 children and youth and their families.
Grants will be managed on a 12-month cycle and with the help of program officers at FCPR, a robust monitoring, evaluation, and learning process will be implemented that includes site visits, communications support, and interim and final reporting to track metrics and learnings. Each grant will be evaluated for renewal at the end of the first grant year.
CRUSA has collaborated with FCPR to shape the RFP for the DAF to ensure that the programs funded reflect the highest needs and most innovative solutions available, while also complementing the vision and mission of Red Nose Day, a publicly funded and facing organization whose mission is to fund programs to end child poverty and keep children safe, healthy, and educated.
Moving forward, FCPR will manage the portfolio of grants and collect/collate the reports and help coordinate CRUSA site visits. CRUSA will continue to consult and review reports, as well as conduct monitoring, evaluation, and learning site visits when staff are in Puerto Rico. CRUSA will provide the benefit of its storytelling platform through the Red Nose Day campaign and its partners at NBC, Walgreens, and Mars with the intention to lift up the stories of hope and need in the respective communities impacted by this fund in Puerto Rico.
February 24th, 2020: Grants awarded to nonprofits
August 2020: Six-month report from grantees to FCPR
September 2020: Six-month report from FCPR to Comic Relief USA
February 2021: Year report from grantees to FCPR
March 2021: Year report from FCPR to Comic Relief USA and evaluation of grants for second year of program
Children and adolescents have been identified as one of the most vulnerable populations to the onslaught of natural disasters. Studies conducted in the United States suggest that these groups are disproportionately impacted by catastrophic events (Council, D. P. A., & Committee on Pediatric Emergency Medicine, 2015). In the context of Puerto Rico, with a high percentage of children living in poverty (57.3%), these impacts are felt even further. According to a study by Estudios Técnicos and the University of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, almost half of households (43.1%), indicated that they faced difficulties in having access to food in order to provide daily meals for their children as a consequence of the hurricane, a percentage that was significantly higher in the case of families with incomes of less than $15,000. Moreover, in one in five households (i.e. 19.7%), they could not supply any of the children's daily meals as a result of the hurricane.
The socioeconomic situation faced by households impacts many areas, undermining families' capacity to assume necessary expenses to maintain quality of life. Some of the most impacted areas include the ability to afford payment of water and electricity (32.6%), food purchases (30.8%), cellular service payment (25.7%) and expenses associated with transportation (25.2%). For families with incomes below $15,000, the percent of families struggling to meet these expenses reached 40% in some instances, emphasizing the major vulnerability that Puerto Rican children face.
Despite this alarming situation, very little attention has been focused on this population and public funds have been delayed. The diversity of experiences of children and young people in the face of these natural phenomenon has and will affect the different dimensions of their lives and that of their families. In the aftermath of the hurricanes, and most recently after the January 7th earthquake, diverse community-led organizations in Puerto Rico have stepped up to serve the needs of impacted families and children. More support to such organizations is needed to continue this impactful work.
The partners would welcome media support and research / best practice information exchange to help lift up the locally-led organizations that this commitment is supporting to ensure a more sustainable future for their programs. The partners would also like to see other national funders join in the establishment of donor advised funds to support communities in Puerto Rico.
Comic Relief, in partnership with the Fundación Comunitaria de Puerto Rico, will be providing financial support in the form of grants to five community-based organizations. Additionally, the partners will communicate out the results, challenges, and best practices from these programs for the benefit of other organizations in the sector and in Puerto Rico.