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Letter from the President, spring newsletter 2021

Oak Foundation / Foundation

Dear Oak partners,

I have been continually inspired throughout the last year by your courage and perseverance, as you have kept up your valiant efforts to make the world a safer, fairer, and more sustainable place to live. Early in the pandemic in 2020, Oak’s Trustees increased grant-making by more than USD 24 million to support our current grantee partners, as well as new partners working on the frontlines of the pandemic response. We were determined to face the worldwide uncertainty head on, and to continue providing unwavering support to communities in need during these challenging times. You can read more about our additional funding in 2020, as well as the work of our partners in the face of Covid-19 in our recent Annual Report here. In 2021, the Trustees will commit an additional 
USD 5 million to support our partners through the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. I also want to reassure you that we will be maintaining our global funding levels this year.  

Many of us are trying to identify ways to “build back better” once the pandemic comes to an end. In April 2020, author Arundhati Roy wrote: “Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.” 

Her words are inspiring, and have caused us at Oak to think about how we intend to “proceed lightly with little luggage” in search of greater impact in our grant-making. We are looking forward to taking steps towards building this better future together. It is against this backdrop that I bring you some good news: in January of this year, Oak welcomed its seventh Trustee: Sebastian Turner. After having recently completed a Bachelor of the Arts in Political Science and Bachelor of Science in Security Studies at East Carolina University, Sebastian spent time learning about the operations of Gonarezhou National Park in Southwest Zimbabwe.

In the coming months and years, Sebastian will be diving into his new role by meeting with the various programmes and teams to learn more about the many facets of the foundation, as well as taking time to learn about the philanthropic sector more broadly. Sebastian is passionate about wildlife conservation, and he is also interested in finding ways to support combat veterans.

We are happy for Sebastian and look forward to seeing how his interests and grant-making evolve. It is exciting to see how Oak Foundation continues to grow as we adapt to the next generation. It is also reassuring to know that the core of our mission remains: our desire to help the vulnerable, to right injustice, and to ensure a future where our children and planet can thrive.

We hope you enjoy reading our newsletter, which brings to life some of the important efforts of our partners, as we continue to collectively strive towards an equitable, just, and inclusive world. We hope it will give you some insight into our vision and the work of our partners under the ongoing exceptional circumstances. 

Douglas Griffiths
President, Oak Foundation