The Rockefeller Foundation pledged $1 billion on Monday to help address the Covid-19 pandemic and its aftermath, with a focus on expanding access to coronavirus tests and vaccines in the U.S. and globally, as well as encouraging billions of dollars worth of investments in green energy sources to help the more than 800 million people worldwide who don’t have access to electricity.
The 107 year old Foundation said it was launching a new chapter with the initiative, which will see it reorient its resources, efforts and energies towards “improving the lives of the world’s poorest people and addressing inequities made worse by this virus.”
The initiative marks the first time the Foundation will use money from outside John D. Rockefeller’s initial bequest to make grants, by obtaining the funds from a bond offering.
The project’s dual-focus will help ensure a more equitable access to Covid-19 healthcare and build stronger healthcare systems that are more resilient to future outbreaks and addresses the “under-appreciated” energy poverty that impedes recovery.
The Foundation said it will continue to scale up investments in the U.S. and around the world to expand access to Covid-19 tests for vulnerable communities, including the U.S. National Covid-19 Testing & Tracing Action Plan it launched earlier this year.
The Rockefeller Foundation has a long history of work in public health, including funding work that led to the yellow fever vaccine and helping to eradicate hookworm in the U.S.. It is not alone in dedicating significant sums of money towards fighting Covid-19. There have been calls on the super-rich to do more to tackle the pandemic and its after-effects, with some donating vast sums while others do relatively little. Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, for example, pledged $1 billion for a Covid-19 relief fund. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has committed $350 million, as well as leveraging its strategic investments fund to secure vaccines for low and middle income countries. George Soros’ foundation also pledged $130 million in Covid-19 relief.
The world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, donated $100 million to Feeding America’s Covid-19 response fund. While the charity naturally welcomed the donation, critics were quick to point out how small the figure is in relation to his vast fortune.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
There are also calls for businesses to direct their investments toward Covid-19 relief. The Wellcome Trust set up Covid-Zero to encourage businesses to invest a portion of their Covid-19 response in underserved areas like scientific research and development, calling it “one of the best investments your business” will ever make. It has raised $27 million from donors including Goldman Sachs and Danske Bank Foundation.
The Rockefeller Foundation Commits USD1 billion to Catalyze a Green Recovery from Pandemic (Rockefeller Foundation)