Moonshot EdVentures & Promise54
The Impact of Wellness Grants
In early 2021, our grantees shared with us the emotional, mental, and physical toll the COVID-19 pandemic had on them as both leaders and humans. We were so inspired by the unique ways grantees responded with creativity and empathy to care for their teams that we created a new grantmaking area called Wellness Grants to further assist our grantees in doing their critical work. Between 2021 and 2022, Margulf disbursed approximately $2.5 million to support the health, wellness, and sustainability of over 50 leaders and their teams. Our grantees used the funds for a variety of purposes including to cover the costs of activities related to their mental, physical, and overall wellness; pursuing coaching or training; and embarking on personal or professional development. Below we share stories from two leaders and their organizations on the use and impact of the Wellness Grants.
Xiomara Padamsee is the Founder and CEO of Promise54, a Margulf grantee since 2019 that partners with social justice organizations to solve their toughest talent-related challenges in a deeply values-aligned way. In addition to bolstering existing staff wellness policies and funding an all staff retreat focused on recovery, Xiomara used funds from her Wellness Grant to take time away from work and her daily responsibilities as CEO to reflect, read, write, and recharge. Of the grant’s impact, Xiomara said, “It is extremely difficult to keep my own boundaries in place, much less get away to catch up on work; spend time reflecting on my own growth, successes, challenges, and needs; and advance my own development through time with my coach, time to read, and time to write. I have found this sort of recovery to be particularly important given the DEI-infused work that I do every day, in my queer Brown body, in this country, during this moment in history. The Margulf grant made it possible to take one week each quarter to do just that, and it had a material impact on my ability to re-enter the day to day with more patience, perspective, and calm and to show up as the best version of myself that day. I plan to keep this ongoing practice and now – with strong support from our board – it is built into our ongoing budget.” Xiomara’s reflection demonstrates how some of our grantees used the Wellness Grant to practice self care as a means to mitigate burnout and sustain their ability to lead impactful organizations.
A Margulf grantee since 2018, Moonshot edVentures supports historically marginalized leaders in designing and launching the learning environments of tomorrow. Moonshot’s CEO, Kat Ling, and her team used the grant to offset therapy costs and gym memberships, to support hobbies like making music and hiking, and to create a shared pool of funds to use towards team experiences. Reflecting on the support, Kat shared “The grant not only gave us the resources and push we needed to change our behaviors to prioritize wellness, but it also catalyzed a culture change where each person was expected to care for their wellness and sustainability. As a team, we reflected on how to make these changes systemic; we are now planning to allocate a wellness stipend to each team member and create quarterly wellness activities for us to do together.” Having seen the profound impact Wellness Grants had on their teams, Moonshot and other grantees created internal policies and budgets to support wellness going forward, regardless of Margulf’s funding.
Nonprofit leaders rarely have the adequate resources they need to power their work, let alone tend to their own needs and the needs of their teams. For many leaders, Margulf’s Wellness Grants were the first time a philanthropic organization explicitly invested in them and their teams’ wellness. These funds helped grantees put personal wellness into practice, prompted organizational culture shifts, and helped teams and leaders feel valued beyond their work. After two rounds of piloting Wellness Grants, we now include an annual Wellness Allocation in every Learning Environments and Talent grant we award. It is our hope that this focus on wellness will increase the likelihood talented leaders feel supported in their roles, deepen the impact of their organizations, and continue adopting sustainable practices to ensure their work carries on.