The AJF Update
May 2020
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The Poet Laureate of Rock, Bob Dylan, is a genius at putting into words the collective sentiments of a moment. If you are anything like us, your basement-dwelling playlist is chock-full of this master lyricist as we seek shelter from the storm. So, gather ‘round people, wherever you roam, and let’s talk about how we are all doing our best adapting to this virus. The Times They Are ‘a Changin'.  We may not all be Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again, but we certainly feel stuck. Nevertheless, Mr. Dylan’s tunes have us feeling somewhat optimistic. It's Not Dark Yet and hopefully by Summer Days (or, perhaps by Autumn Leaves) we will be Sitting on Top of the World.
In addition to jamming to Dylan and contemplating the weird world we live in, we have done our best to stay engaged and moving forward in these most unusual times. 
  • We checked in with some of our non-profit partners to see how they are adapting.
  • We have put together a rundown of resources to help all of us move forward.
  • Also, when they aren’t rocking out to 60s folk-rock, our communications crew has been using this time to finally freshen up our website. Sure, a fresh coat of paint on our internet home might not make all of this go away, but like sourdough breadmaking, it gave us a chance to feel productive.
But before we get to all of that, a message of thanks…
Now, on to the show.
Adaptations: How Some of Our Partners Have Adapted to the Pandemic.
Like businesses, governments, and every single human on the planet, the novel coronavirus has forced nonprofit organizations to adapt. At a time when they are needed most, this perpetually under-resourced sector is relying on its flexible, can do spirit to meet community needs.

One of our benefits is that we are, and hope to remain, a very nimble organization that can respond to the immediate and long-term needs of our community” says Kia Baker, Executive Director of the Southeast Raleigh Promise. Food security has been a major issue since the closures of schools. The organization has partnered with organizations like the Interfaith Food Shuttle, Incredible Ladies United, and many more over the past month to provide more than 40,000 pounds of food to hundreds of families in Southeast Raleigh. This is in addition to delivering food to the families of Southeast Raleigh Elementary students every week. While meeting the immediate needs of families hardest hit by the economic reverberations of the pandemic, poverty alleviating organizations also must be thinking about the long-term.  

“We’re all adjusting to our new norm. I know each week I am getting better and learning with the families” says Suquey Castillo-Lopez, bilingual Intake Coordinator for the Durham’s Children’s Initiative (DCI).  In addition to making sure DCI families’ immediate needs of housing and food are being met, DCI is dedicated to making sure that their young learners don’t fall behind academically.  

They moved quickly to get Story Hour Live, their weekly bilingual arts and literacy program, online to Facebook. Even though it has been a technical challenge, DCI is seeing better and deeper engagement especially because parents can re-watch and share videos. “They’ve been learning and adjusting together and hopes this momentum continues when the pandemic is over.”  

While some instruction seems tailor-made to move online, other arts and educational nonprofits have to be more creative. NC Arts-In-Action began a video series called “Dance with Me”. These short instructional videos encourage students to keep dancing and learn new moves while at home. It has been challenging to adapt their curriculum to social media and engage their audience but Executive Director, Marlon Torres says that “parents and students have expressed a great deal of gratitude”. Arts-in-Action is organizing content to be sent to students through google classroom to their partner school districts.  

Marbles Kids Museum started “Daily Dose of Play”, a series of parenting tips and videos from making homemade play dough, building forts, and LEGO challenges. Sarah Brown, Marketing Director, says that even though they have not made a lot of videos before, it’s teaching them a lesson of being “adaptable and pushing past the fear.” It is paying off. “Families have been posting photos of themselves taking part in the activities.”  

How have you and your organization adapted to stay connected with the people you have served? Mention us on Facebook or Twitter @AJFfoundation
Resources & Updates
NC Museum of Natural Sciences Science Café” series, is keeping people engaged on all things science.  

The library is open…virtually that is. The Wake County Library System has moved most of its resources and catalog online. You can read books, magazines, and even register for a library card.  

Our Executive Director, Damon Circosta was featured in CapDev’s “Generously Speaking” Podcast discussing how philanthropy can respond to the effects of Covid-19. Learn more here. 

Get outdoors to break up your day. You can get a breath of fresh air at the greenways or Dix Park, just make sure that you stay 6 feet from others. 

The National Alliance on Mental Illness webpage on mental health coping strategies.  

The Public School Forum of North Carolina information and resources for educators, parents, and students as they adjust to online learning.  

The North Carolina Network of Grantmakers resource page with remote working tips, information for funders, self-care resources, and more.  

The North Carolina Center for Nonprofits resource page covering business continuity to public policy to event management and more.  

One Last Thing...
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