How Funder Briefings Supported Hurricane Harvey Recovery

Members of four churches from around the country spent a week working on Harvey recovery projects. The volunteers were brought together by Wharton County Recovery Team with funding from a Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund grant. (Photo by Wharton County Recovery Team)

During the first six months of 2018, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) hosted 10 biweekly briefings for national funders to support their long-term recovery investments in Texas following Hurricane Harvey. This series was made possible through the support of The Simmons Foundation.
Topics for the briefings included:

  1. Disaster damage assessment reports
  2. Work of National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) and Texas VOAD
  3. Work of a philanthropic member association in the region, Philanthropy Southwest
  4. Episcopal Health Foundation’s research on the recovery of vulnerable populations
  5. Hazard mitigation principles and the role of Texas A&M in the recovery
  6. Environmental impacts of disasters and environmental grantmaking
  7. Affordable housing recovery and monitoring for fairness in distribution of housing resources
  8. Mental and behavioral health programs
  9. Disaster case management
  10. Flow of private, state and federal funds to Harvey recovery

The briefings assisted funders in understanding the scale of the disaster, particularly its impact on vulnerable populations and their ongoing unmet needs. Attendees have reported that the briefings provided data to use in requests for proposals, identification of potential grantees, opportunities for collaborative funding and deep dives into programmatic areas of grantmaking consistent with their ongoing investments.

Each briefing offered updates on recovery efforts, announcements of new federal and private requests for proposals, and open conversation for the audience to share questions and ideas. Of particular note is the ongoing research work of Dr. Shao-Chee Sim of the Episcopal Health Foundation, which highlights the ways in which existing vulnerabilities of individuals, families and communities were exacerbated by Harvey. It also shows how these vulnerabilities extend the time needed for recovery and increase the accompanying financial needs of those affected by the storm. Dr. Sim’s work continues, and the foundation regularly publishes updated reports about these efforts.

CDP’s own Nancy Beers, director of the Midwest Early Recovery Fund, served as the special guest for one of the briefings. Her presentation helped funders understand the role of disaster case management in long-term recovery, and how communities that have active and well-organized long-term recovery groups increase their own resiliency. Beers argued that targeting long-term recovery as a focus of philanthropic giving allows for more disaster case managers to see their clients through to the resolution of their claims for assistance.

An archive of the recording and written summary for each briefing can be found on The Simmons Foundation website. The summaries include links to all of the resources or tools discussed during the briefing.

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