Improving lives through invention

How We’re Supporting Our Communities During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Our thoughts are with the millions of people who have been directly impacted by the crisis – front-line medical professionals, educators, small business owners, those who find themselves suddenly unemployed and families concerned about the welfare of loved-ones who might be at risk while juggling work and parenting.  What once seemed like short-term precaution has become a new social order filled with uncertainty.

The Lemelson Foundation team remains fully committed to our community during these unsettled times.  We are working closely with our grantees and partners to understand the operational, programmatic and economic impact of this public health crisis– particularly those engaging with student populations or with historic reliance on in-person gatherings to accomplish their goals and are making adjustments to budgets, timelines and expected outcomes as needed to help them weather this unique time.

Additionally, Foundation board members have been actively involved in decisions regarding new commitments to fund non-profit programs dedicated to immediate response efforts in our home state of Oregon and globally.  With a grant of $300K,  we are joining dozens of other philanthropic organizations and individuals to support the Oregon Community Recovery Grant program at Oregon Community Foundation (OCF),  which is providing funds non-profit programs addressing the urgent social and economic needs across Oregon such as food, housing, employment, childcare, domestic abuse mitigation, mental health and negative impacts on student learning as a result of school closures.  We are also awarding a $100K grant to the OCF Small Business Stabilization Fund to provide immediate financial support to organizations serving businesses across Oregon, including urban, rural and tribal regions.  And, in recognition of the significant challenges faced by communities in the global south, we are providing an additional $300K grant to Villgro Kenya to provide funding to innovators to mobilize locally-developed game-changing COVID-19 solutions.

It is often during the most challenging times that we realize the true power of invention.  As we’ve seen with the skyrocketing demand for ventilators and personal protective gear, and the need to develop effective and safe vaccines and therapeutics, invention can literally make the difference between life and death.   This certainly drives home for us that our mission to cultivate inventors and foster inventions with real human impact is more important than ever.  Particularly in this difficult time, we are honored to work with an amazing network of organizations and individuals with a shared passion for improving lives through invention.

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