New York Life Foundation celebrates $25 million-milestone mark in its support of childhood bereavement
Foundation budget tops 18 million in 2016 after 7 years of continued growth.
NEW YORK, NY, February 9, 2016—The New York Life Foundation today announced that it has passed the $25 million grant-making mark for total funds committed to supporting grieving children and their families. Helping children who have experienced the death of a loved one is a major focus area of the Foundation, which has worked to raise awareness of the scope and impact of childhood bereavement since 2007.
The Foundation’s latest grant, a $3 million commitment to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America to deliver training and technical support to help local club staff support grieving youth through their Be There program, propelled the Foundation over the $25 million mark.
“We are very proud to reach this milestone, which represents our sustained dedication to this important yet historically under-served population,” said Heather Nesle, president of the New York Life Foundation. In the U.S., nearly 1 in 20 children will lose a parent before age 16, and the vast majority will experience the loss of a family member or friend by the time they complete high school. Many grieving children suffer in silence and isolation, subject to a range of emotional, psychological and behavioral difficulties which, if left unaddressed, can extend well into adulthood.
In response to this need, New York Life has made grants to a wide range of distinct grief-related nonprofits, underwriting bereavement camps, children’s recreational groups, tragedy assistance for military families, university research, and more. Additionally, the Foundation extends direct support to childhood bereavement centers/programs across the country through its Grief Reach program, which has awarded 153 community expansion and capacity building grants to date. Since 2004, the Foundations overall budget has grown steadily, topping $18 million in 2016.
The Center was established with a goal of bringing greater national attention to the issues facing Native American youth and to foster solutions, with special emphasis on youth suicide prevention. According to the Center, average suicide rates among Native American youth have reached 3.5 times the national average, with some tribal communities having rates up to 10 times the national average. The grant will support research into the impact suicides have on youth and communities, and help to determine the bereavement resources and services that are needed to address this specific population.
“Despite its prevalence and poignancy, childhood bereavement is still considered a niche funding area,” said Nesle. “As one of the largest national corporate funders of childhood bereavement, New York Life is actively working to increase capacity in the field by building communication and collaboration among grantees and helping to raise national awareness of the issue.”
For example, New York Lifes long-term support of the National Alliance for Grieving Children (NAGC) has enabled the organization’s transformation into a professional, organized alliance of grief stakeholders with a growing membership and fundraising base. Between 2012 and 2015 alone, the NAGC’s membership has increased by 85 percent and the size of its annual national symposium has doubled, drawing over 450 attendees this year.
“The childhood bereavement support field is grateful for the generous support provided by the New York Life Foundation. Their support is wide-reaching and has had a direct impact on the expansion and advancement of services provided to bereaved children and teenagers across the United States,” said Andy McNiel, chief executive officer of the National Alliance for Grieving Children. “Just as important as their financial support of the field has been the heart with which they have provided that support. From the staff to the leadership, the Foundation cares deeply about the issues and that children and families receive the support they need.”
In another initiative, the Foundation convened stakeholders across the K-12 education space to help deliver better support to grieving students at school. Together with the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, the Foundation formed the Coalition to Support Grieving Students, which is working to reach the 4.7 million American school professionals represented by its collective membership with new educator-specific grief resources.
“Without the Foundation, this unique collaboration among education professionals wouldn’t have been initiated—nor would it have been able to achieve the wide reach it enjoys today,” said David Schonfeld, director of the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement. “From the Coalition’s establishment in 2013 through the launch of the resource earlier this year, the Foundation has provided critical guidance and support at each stage of this initiative’s development and is continuing to provide essential support for further dissemination and promotion going forward.”
Additional bereavement partner organizations of the Foundation have included Scholastic, Sesame Street, Comfort Zone Camp, The Moyer Foundation, Outward Bound USA, St. John’s University, and Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS).
Employee volunteerism reinforces this commitment, with many employees and agents across the country actively engaging with the Foundation’s partner organizations to help support grieving children in their local communities.
’New York Life’s support of the issue extends across our whole organization. Helping families deal with the death of a loved one—both financially and emotionally—is at the heart of what New York Life does,” said Maria Collins, vice president of the New York Life Foundation. “As a result, we have been able to embody our commitment to grieving children from the top down.”
“Grief affects nearly everyone at some point in time—but in our death-averse society, community support systems are often lacking for children who suffer a loss,” said Nesle. “The New York Life Foundation believes that it is critical to bring this issue to light, and we’re proud to play a role in delivering support to grieving children alongside our nonprofit partners. As we celebrate a new grant-making milestone, we are ever aware of the work that remains to be done to ensure that no child grieves alone.”
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