Our holistic approach aligns our strategic focus, workforce activities, and community involvement to build long-term partnerships. To date, we have invested more than $275 million in national and local nonprofit organizations.
To complement our grantmaking, we connect our nonprofit partners with our workforce to foster and encourage engagement in support of those in need. We also have dedicated programs and resources to support the work of our employees and agents in their own philanthropic activities in local communities where they live and work.
New York Life is in the business of providing financial security and peace of mind to our policy owners and their families. As an extension of that mission, the Foundation focuses on two areas: 1) providing support for children and families who have lost a family member, bringing a measure of peace of mind during this very difficult time, and 2) helping students get to high school on time and on grade level, ultimately leading to greater financial security in their adult lives.
But we are more than just a grantmaker. We collaborate with our partners to enhance the reach, resources, and support of the work we do. By deepening our understanding of the challenges young people are facing, we are better positioned to address gaps in our strategic focus areas and become a stronger partner and a recognized leader to the nonprofits we work with in communities across the country.
In partnership with the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement at the University of Southern California and the American Federation of Teachers, we conducted a 2012 survey with educators on grief in schools. We found that 92% of educators say childhood grief is a serious problem that deserves more attention from schools, yet only 7% receive any type of bereavement training. This gap encouraged us to form the Coalition to Support Grieving Students with top national school associations to systemically address grief in school, which ultimately led to last year’s launch of New York Life’s Grief-Sensitive Schools Initiative nationwide.
This initiative equips our employees and agents to present in schools on the prevalence and impact of grief on students and the resources available for educators to support them. As part of this effort, we also provide a grant to participating schools as they strive to become more ”grief-sensitive.” As our workforce continues to connect with a growing number of schools, we are able to provide entire communities with crucial information that can be used to offer comfort in the toughest of times.
Being a conduit to share information, develop resources, and establish best practices that lead to the success of middle school students is a core goal of our grantmaking. The decision to focus on out-of-school-time programs for middle school students was based on research that identified the middle to high school transition period as a critical indicator for future success. If students reach ninth grade on time and on grade level, they are four times more likely to graduate high school on time and achieve post-secondary success. We worked with experts such as the Afterschool Alliance to develop a grantmaking strategy and engage partners to address the gaps in funding in this area. Since 2013, the New York Life Foundation has invested more than $41 million to grow the impact of out-of-school-time programs in helping these students successfully transition to high school.
Several of our key strategic grantee partners such as BELL; Classroom, Inc.; and Higher Achievement are working creatively with other community-based organizations, schools, and school districts on similar programs using innovative partnership models. Subsequently, other youth-serving organizations and schools can use and leverage these best practices to reach more middle school students in after-school and summer learning programs. This model is a cost-effective way to scale programs while still adhering to strong program quality requirements.
Our workforce engagement is a living example of our core value of humanity. We formalized our volunteer program more than two decades ago and, today, it is an inherent part of who we are and what we are known for in our local communities. From serving as a Grief-Sensitive Schools Ambassador, to volunteering with an after-school program, our employees and agents take action to be involved with issues that matter to them and our communities. And the issues that matter to our people and their communities also matter to the Foundation, which offers grants to recognize and support the local partnerships and efforts of our workforce. New York Life agents and employees volunteered nearly 18,000 times in 2018 to make an impact with a local nonprofit.