Mar 16, 2021 Press Release

Robin Hood Awards Over $73 Million in COVID-19 Relief; Convenes Leaders to Inform Strategy

Robin Hood Relief Fund supports New Yorkers through cash assistance, emergency food, housing support, benefits access, and more.

NEW YORK, NY — Today marks one year since Robin Hood, New York City’s largest poverty-fighting organization, reactivated its Robin Hood Relief Fund to address the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past year Robin Hood has awarded over $73 million to more than 600 nonprofit organizations across all five boroughs to meet the urgent needs of those impacted by the pandemic and its economic fallout, $35 million in the form of cash assistance to empower New Yorkers. The Robin Hood Relief Fund remains one of the only citywide relief funds still in operation one-year after the shut-down was declared.

To maximize the fund’s impact in real time, Robin Hood has regularly convened the city’s top philanthropic funders and policymakers over the past year to track the changing needs of New Yorkers and drive rapid-response investments through cash assistance, emergency food, benefits access, and medical and mental health services. The funders calls have also been a place for Robin Hood to share its own roadmap to navigating relief efforts in New York City. On average, the calls attract about 100 participants, including notable philanthropic and corporate entities.

“When the pandemic hit New York, we knew it would be devastating to the communities we serve. That is why we reactivated the Robin Hood Relief Fund so quickly, immediately began raising money, and distributed our first grants within two days,” said Victoria Bjorklund, chair of the Robin Hood Relief Fund and a board member since 2001. “Relief is in the DNA of Robin Hood. We were there for New Yorkers after 9/11, Superstorm Sandy, and now COVID-19, and we show up before government assistance is available because we know people in need can’t wait. Our weekly funders calls serve as a source for idea incubation and R&D for philanthropists who dial in regularly to consider ways to shape and expand their relief funding in New York City.”

Previously deployed to respond to September 11th and Superstorm Sandy, Robin Hood relief grants prioritize New Yorkers left out of early federal aid responses, such as low-income children and families, immigrant communities, college students, and low-wage workers. Since the onset of the pandemic, the Robin Hood Relief Fund has provided more than $35 million in emergency cash assistance, empowering New Yorkers to make the best financial decisions for themselves and their families. Over $11 million has gone to provide emergency food, $7 million for education, and the remaining $18.5 million has helped to support medical and mental health services and programs that support housing, safety, benefits access, and education for vulnerable New Yorkers.

“2020 was a year of overwhelming adversity for all of us, but it was particularly hard for our most vulnerable neighbors. The systemic failures that condemn so many Americans – particularly communities of color – are not new. And we had to respond with speed and love to address these issues,” said Wes Moore, CEO of Robin Hood. “We had to enter with humility, work with our community partners, and focus on building a better infrastructure that doesn’t so repeatedly and heartlessly leave people behind. Focusing on direct cash assistance, investing in leaders of color, involving community members in our grantmaking decisions, and focusing on learning loss were just some of the areas that we are proud to have moved quickly to address.”

Throughout the past year, Robin Hood has been a resource, convener, and catalyst for funders, nonprofits, and political leaders responding to the pandemic in New York City. Robin Hood’s weekly funders calls include featured guest speakers to help call participants better understand the ever-shifting landscape of relief.

The March 16th funders call features seven relief grant partners sharing their reflections and lessons learned from the last year, including:

  • Geoffrey Canada and Kwame Owusu-Kesse, Founder & CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone
  • Dr. Melony Samuels, Executive Director & Founder of The Campaign Against Hunger
  • Derrick Lewis and Desmon Lewis, Co-Founders of The Bronx Community Foundation
  • Mohamed Attia, Executive Director of Street Vendor Project
  • Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz, President & Medical Director of Child Mind Institute
  • Phoebe Boyer, President & CEO of Children’s Aid
  • Dr. Amanda K. Johnson, Director of Take Care for the New York City Test & Trace Corps

Today’s funders call will take place at 1pm ET. To RSVP, please email

Robin Hood continues to advocate at all levels of government for policies that will protect the most vulnerable New Yorkers and the nonprofits supporting them, including reforming partial unemployment benefits, pushing for the inclusion of undocumented immigrants in relief programs, and increasing and making the state and federal child tax credits permanent.

About Robin Hood:

Founded in 1988, Robin Hood finds, fuels, and creates the most impactful and scalable solutions lifting families out of poverty in New York City, with models that can work across the country. In 2020, Robin Hood invested nearly $200 million to provide COVID relief, legal services, housing, meals, workforce development training, education programs, and more to families in poverty in New York City. Robin Hood tracks every program with rigorous metrics, and since Robin Hood’s Board of Directors covers all overhead, 100 percent of every donation goes directly to the poverty fight. Learn more at