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An Indian father in a face mask with son

Stronger together: An update on our COVID-19 response

Janet Mountain

In the 15 short days since my March 17 post, the magnitude of the impact of COVID-19 has grown exponentially. The reality is that nothing is untouched; COVID-19 has affected everything around us, and our world has changed. To be sure, better days will come again as we join together as a global community to tackle this pandemic, but there are some hard days immediately ahead. Whether you are one of the healthcare heroes serving on the front lines, a teacher adapting your classroom to online learning virtually overnight, or someone suffering painful economic consequences of doing your part to stop the spread of the virus by staying home, we are all adapting to an unprecedented new normal.

In the face of such challenges rolling into our communities, we cannot be still. The need is too great. To help combat the pandemic and its resulting economic fallout, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation is committing $100 million to support relief efforts across the world.

Facing a problem of this magnitude can be daunting. We have been engaged and listening for the past two weeks, making sure we understand the rapidly changing landscape and evolving needs of our partners across the world. In some cases, we’ve been able to act quickly. In other cases, we’ve needed to develop a longer-term approach on how we can best support our partners during this difficult and very uncertain time. Our commitment remains unwavering, and together we will get through this.

To help tackle the root of this crisis, we are committing $20 million to the global COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator launched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome, and Mastercard to identify potential treatments for COVID-19 and accelerate their development. The Accelerator is seeding work to rapidly develop treatments for the virus and will also work to ensure equitable, affordable access once they are available. We recognize the importance of such a catalyst — every day without a treatment is a day that thousands suffer, especially the most vulnerable.

To address the economic impact, we are committing $80 million to help communities across the world. We will deploy these investments using flexible funding approaches best suited for each initiative, including grants, equity, loans, and/or guarantees. This work will focus on four important areas:

  • Initiatives to support our healthcare systems and increase medical capacity;
  • Initiatives to help sustain the vital work of our nonprofit partners and social enterprises in a time when their efforts will be needed more than ever;
  • Initiatives to support our education systems and our students, as they adapt to school disruptions and look ahead to the next school year;
  • Initiatives to help stabilize small businesses, microentrepreneurs, and gig workers, whose livelihoods are so important to our communities and to the overall economy.

Our priority is making sure the people we serve continue to have opportunities to succeed. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been working closely with our partners to help them adjust plans and navigate evolving circumstances. This additional injection of support will make it possible for them to better adapt and continue the important work they are doing for children, families, and communities across the world.

While there’s much we can’t predict, what I do know is that together we are stronger. Seeing examples from across the globe of creative problem-solving and extreme generosity fills me with confidence that together we can overcome the extraordinary challenges of this new normal.

We have deep gratitude for all of you who are on the front lines of this pandemic, and a deep sympathy for everyone who has been affected, especially those who have lost loved ones. We look forward to the day when effective treatments are widely available and when we collectively emerge from this with strength.

Stay well,

Janet Mountain
Executive Director

If you have a request for funding that is related to COVID-19, please know that we are committed to fighting this pandemic and its subsequent economic fallout. Our immediate available funding has gone to accelerating the development of therapies, increasing the supply of PPE in Texas, stabilizing small business, and assisting our portfolio of current grantees.