COVID-19 Emergency Grant Fundraising Effort Meets the Challenges of the Day
In 2020 the American Anthropological Association received a Global Initiatives Grant to help support the AAA Emergency Relief Fund for Anthropologists.
At the American Anthropological Association, we are committed to bringing together scholars, practitioners, educators, and the public to advance the field of anthropology and its role in the world. That is why at the onset of the COVID-19 health pandemic, we knew that many members in our community needed emergency support, and that a meaningful way to advance our mission was by ensuring they have the financial resources they need to get through this challenging moment. These are members who make valuable contributions to our field but who, by virtue of being independently employed, working in a small business, or occupying a position at the margins of a university, suddenly find themselves in a position of financial uncertainty and hardship.
The AAA Emergency Relief Fund for Anthropologists offered financially vulnerable members one-time grants and a registration waiver for the fall virtual event series, “Raising Our Voices.” Two of our sections, the Society for Medical Anthropology (SMA) and the Society for Linguistic Anthropology (SLA) also created relief funds. Over the course of a few months, we witnessed an outpouring of generosity from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, which was matched on a 9-1 basis with donations from our Board, Sections, and members around the world.
In total, we were able to raise sufficient funds to make grants to 190 individuals from 18 countries. In addition, we invited all 190 grantees to join the fall virtual event series, Raising Our Voices, which replaced the Annual Meeting that had to be canceled due to the pandemic. Funds from the COVID-19 Emergency Grant Fund were used to cover the registration fees for these individuals. The funds provided by the Wenner-Gren Foundation were disbursed to 20 individuals, all living outside the United States, in keeping with the spirit of the Foundation’s Global Initiatives Grant program.
We received a good deal of feedback from grant recipients, all of it expressing appreciation for being able to provide assistance in a time of acute need:
I am so, so grateful to have received the AAA COVID-19 Emergency Grant Fund. It really makes such a difference as a freelancer, also balancing a PhD and with lost income from this situation. Thank you for your generosity and this wonderful initiative.
Please extend my gratitude to the AAA and to the donors that made this possible.
Thank you very much for establishing this series of grants; it really means the world to know that the AAA is looking after unemployed anthropologists such as myself during this difficult period.
Thanks so much for informing me about this award, it is so helpful in this time of uncertainty and I am grateful to know that my colleagues are supporting me and others who need a little boost right now. I hope I can pay this forward in the future when I get a chance.
Thank you for the emergency grant, my family and I really need it at this time. I would also, through you, like to thank the AAA. It is my wish that in the future it will be my turn to assist, not to be assisted.
Thank you so much for this grant – it is coming right as the spring semester ends and helps fill the gap while I figure out what my next employment can be.
The global disruptions brought about by the pandemic and associated public health interventions were abrupt and precipitous. Recovery is proving to be much slower and uneven. The Foundation’s willingness to step in and strengthen the fabric of the safety net supporting some of the more vulnerable members of our anthropology community will almost certainly mean that as we make sense of this profoundly influential moment, anthropologists who might otherwise have had to seek their livelihoods elsewhere will be around to contribute to this sense-making.