RTW Charitable Foundation Awards $1 Million in Grants to New York Non-profits Fighting the COVID-19 Pandemic and its Impacts

New York, NYRTW Charitable Foundation (RTWCF) today announced that it has completed its first grant cycle, totaling $1 million of gifts across 12 organizations fighting COVID-19, and the pandemic’s impact on New Yorkers. The lion’s share of the funding was awarded to 10 community-based organizations on the frontlines of some of the hardest-hit areas in the City.

Founded last year as the charitable foundation arm of RTW Investments, LP, a leading healthcare-focused entrepreneurial investment firm with deep scientific expertise and a strong track record of supporting companies developing life-changing therapies, RTWCF partners with organizations conducting disease research and championing humanitarian causes.

While RTWCF has an initial focus on rare disease research, RTWCF quickly redirected its first round of funding to combat the devastating effects that COVID-19 pandemic had on many communities in New York City.

Community-based grantees include Arete Education, Inc.; Habitat for Humanity; Harlem United; Hunts Point Alliance for Children; New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE); New York Cares; Send Chinatown Love; Think!Chinatown; Violence Intervention Program (VIP Mujeres); and Welcome to Chinatown.

Research grants were also awarded to Weill-Cornell for a pediatric COVID-19 study, and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai for a COVID-19 long-haul study. A full breakdown of each grant can be found below.

“When the COVID-19 pandemic began ravaging New York last year, it was instantly clear that this was where RTW Charitable Foundation could best be of service to the city we call home,” said Dr. Roderick Wong, M.D., Chairman of RTW Charitable Foundation. “We selected these grantees because they have an impressive track record, deep ties to their communities, and are nimble in responding to the needs of those they serve. We are honored to be able to partner with them and support their work, on which many New Yorkers depend for their lives and livelihoods.”

RTWCF distributed grants with a focus on where support is needed the most. The community-based organizations primarily serve low-income, immigrant and communities of color — the same populations that have been disproportionately hit by the virus. Their work includes fighting food insecurity, ensuring children in temporary housing have access to quality education, small business support, vaccine education and distribution, health equity, supporting survivors of domestic violence, and preserving affordable housing.

This round of funding will primarily fund efforts happening this winter to address pressing near-term needs, while also building the capacity for long-term operations in the areas most affected by the pandemic. With the funding from RTWCF, the organizations will expand their existing programs or add new initiatives.

“COVID-19 has devastated NYC, especially those communities that continue to suffer the effects of systemic inequality. New York Cares channels the goodness of New Yorkers to address the immediate needs of those communities while building a foundation for long term prosperity. RTW’s investment in our work will directly support our programs to deliver millions of meals, to provide social emotional learning activities for young people, and to create meaningful connections to isolated individuals. RTW’s generosity exemplifies our city’s goodness and helps build a pathway to emerge from the COVID-19 crisis stronger than we were before,” said Gary Bagley, executive director of New York Cares.

“COVID-19 may have placed us all in the same storm but we are not all in the same boat. Hard-working New York City families, particularly low-income families, have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic itself, and then again by the ensuing rent and mortgage crises,” said Karen Haycox, CEO of Habitat for Humanity New York City. “With support from vital partners such as the RTW Foundation, Habitat for Humanity New York City will be able to help to stabilize existing affordable housing, and revitalize other vital public spaces. We are so grateful to RTW Foundation for this generous support, and for their commitment to building a healthy, equitable New York City.”

“For the Latinx communities hit hardest by death and diagnosis related to Covid-19 and its related economic devastation, this gift is a ray of hope. RTW’s generous support will put food on the table, pay for utilities, keep families safely housed and most innovatively – bring reliable internet and access to devices that will serve as a lifeline to survivors of domestic and sexual violence and their children. For families weathering a dangerous combination of poverty, isolation and abuse, this gift could not come at a more critical time,” said Margarita Guzmán, executive director of Violence Intervention Program.

“Immigrant workers and their families are facing some of the worst outcomes of this pandemic. They are also the backbone of New York City’s economy and so without support for them there is no true path to recovery for our city,” said Manuel Castro, executive director of New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE). “Without a safety net, they began to feel the ramifications of the pandemic right away and this will continue long after the immediate crisis ends. NICE is grateful to the RTW Foundation for their generous investment in our work as we bring relief to our community. With this support, we will roll out a vaccination awareness campaign and bolster our food access program to meet growing hunger needs of our community.”

“Harlem United is absolutely thrilled to be partnering with RTW Charitable Foundation. This gift of $100,000 promotes health equity in communities of color most impacted by COVID-19. Funds will
help to offset the cost of delivering vaccinations and will significantly expand our existing COVID-19 immunization program in our Harlem-based clinic. We are so grateful to RTW Charitable Foundation and look forward to a long relationship,” said Kevin Rente, senior vice president of strategic advancement at Harlem United.

“We are truly humbled to receive this award and recognition for our work in Mott Haven and Harlem during the pandemic. With the funds we received in January, we were able to expand our support services to families in temporary housing whose children have not been able to access schooling during this period of remote learning. We will be providing wrap-around supports (stipends, groceries, hotspots and laptops, mentoring, daily attendance support) for 25 families in the South Bronx and Harlem with the aim to positively impact their children’s attendance rates and grades during the spring semester,” said Dr. Sarah Benis Scheier-Dolberg, executive director of Areté Education, Inc.

“This grant significantly increases our ability to stem learning loss and provide financial opportunities in our community at this critical time,” said Jill Roche Gomez, Hunts Point Alliance for Children (HPAC) executive director. “In addition to the disproportionate economic impact of COVID-19 in vulnerable communities, the isolation and academic struggles of remote learning have put more students at risk of being left behind. Together, the RTW Foundation and HPAC will address these issues by providing financial incentives to college students, while connecting them to Hunts Point students for one-on-one tutoring and individualized academic support – building crucial connections in our community.”

“Using the funding generously provided by the RTW Foundation, Send Chinatown Love is able to feed about 2,500 hungry New Yorkers with meals through our Gift-a-Meal campaign. These meals are purchased from our Asian small-business restaurant community and donated to shelters, senior centers, and homeless community members in their respective neighborhoods. Our efforts span across NYC, and this donation, too, will be spread across the boroughs,” said Justin McKibben, founder of Send Chinatown Love.

“Outdoor dining is the only way for small restaurants to stay afloat during the pandemic, but prior to COVID-19 most Chinatown restaurants had no experience with the practice and many lacked the significant resources needed to do so effectively. In partnership with A+A+A Studio, Think!Chinatown launched “Assembly for Chinatown” in the spring of 2020 to design and construct outdoor build outs at no cost to the restaurants in need, most of which are immigrant- and family-owned. RTW Foundation’s generous grant will allow us to continue our work and winterize build outs in our neighborhood, helping Chinatown restaurants weather the difficult season,” said Yin Kong, director and co-founder of Think!Chinatown.

“Manhattan’s Chinatown is a resilient neighborhood that has long served as one of the oldest cultural enclaves in the U.S. The prolonged impact of the COVID-19 pandemic poses a great risk to accelerate the gentrification of Chinatown and the displacement of its residents and small businesses,” said Jennifer Tam, co-founder, Welcome to Chinatown. “We are grateful for The RTW Charitable Foundation’s generous donation to Welcome to Chinatown. This contribution helps us provide immediate relief toward Chinatown’s small businesses to recuperate losses from COVID and to build a sustainable future to preserve one of the most culturally significant neighborhoods in America,” said Jennifer Tam, co-founder and head of marketing and communications for Welcome to Chinatown.

In the coming weeks, RTWCF will be partnering with grantees for kickoff events and days of action across New York, to bring attention to COVID-19 relief efforts and the challenges facing the communities they serve. The first event will take place on February 23 with Arete Education and Hunts Point Alliance for Children, in the South Bronx.

The grants, organized by type of COVID-19 relief work, are:

Food security:
New York Cares
New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE)

COVID-19 vaccination:
Harlem United

Housing security:
Habitat for Humanity

Survivors of domestic violence:
Violence Intervention Program (VIP Mujeres)

Access to education for youth:
Arete Education
Hunts Point Alliance for Children

Small business support:
Welcome to Chinatown
Send Chinatown Love

COVID-19 research:
Weill Cornell Medical School
Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai

About RTW Charitable Foundation
Founded in 2020 as the charitable foundation arm of RTW Investments, LP, RTW Charitable Foundation works to improve opportunities for all people to live healthier, longer lives, and was created at the intersection of scientific advancements and humanitarian efforts. The Foundation funds disease research, patient support, education and advocacy efforts to alleviate human suffering. To learn more, visit https://www.rtwfunds.com/foundation/.
For social media and grant applications please reach out to socialmedia@rtwcf.org and RTWCF@rtwfunds.com.

PRESS CONTACT: Megan Douglas, meganreneedouglas@gmail.com, 347-580-2772

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