Innovative Practices

The following are examples of innovative practices philanthropic organizations have supported, developed and/or implemented regarding community recovery and economic development.


The Vermont Community Foundation

Worked in cooperation with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture to create the Vermont Farm Disaster Relief Fund to assist farmers with the long-term effects of Tropical Storm Irene. Their multi-sector partnership enabled them to build a critical care team which matched the generosity of donors who believe in Vermont’s working landscape with the farmers who are working the land. This model not only represents core Vermont values of ‘community and giving’, it also produced outcomes which helped many Vermont farms remain viable through tough times. Grants from the fund help farmers replace infrastructure, seed, feed, livestock, supplies and equipment lost as a result of the storm, to the extent the losses were not covered by insurance or other sources of income.


New Jersey Recovery Fund

Funded Local Resiliency and Recovery Partnerships, designed by two nonprofits (NJ Future and Sustainable Jersey) and the leaders of the NJ Recovery Fund (Community Foundation of NJ and Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation), and implemented in cooperation with FEMA and several local municipalities. This innovative program embeds recovery managers and resiliency coordinators into NJ communities hit hardest by Superstorm Sandy, for a long-term approach to rebuilding in a sustainable manner. This project also serves as a bridge between communities and the broader world of public and private resource organizations and policy development agencies.


The Brooklyn Community Foundation

Trained local leadership how to manage and recruit volunteers, thus harnessing their talents to carry out crucial relief and recovery work within days of Superstorm Sandy making landfall. Leaders also gained skills on how to prepare before the next storm strikes. The Foundation worked closely with NeighborWorks America to provide a two-day training program on volunteer management. The workshops focused on developing the knowledge, skills and abilities required to organize volunteers after a disaster. It also supported the development of leadership skills for community volunteers to organize, campaign, recruit and manage the ongoing volunteer emergency response teams.


San Diego Foundation

Commissioned, within days of the spate of wild fires in the mid-2000’s, an assessment team that spread out and reported on immediate needs within a week or so of the fires. Their report, along with subsequent re-assessment activities, informed SDF’s continued response over the months and years of recovery and rebuilding.


The Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund

HSNJRF and UCEDC, a statewide nonprofit economic development corporation offered grants to 27 Seaside Heights businesses (on and off the boardwalk), for support of complimentary retail design consultations and $2,000 implementation grants. Each business received up to five hours of consultation with a retail designer and an easy to implement design plan; store layout, colors, signage, traffic flow and other elements of the retail experience were considered. Support from the Relief Fund has allowed UCEDC to offer 2% working capital loans and ongoing business mentoring to small businesses throughout the nine-county Sandy- affected region. Thus far, loans have been made to 115 small businesses in 87 communities. This infusion of working capital created and protected over 1,000 jobs and leveraged close to $7 million in capital investments.


New Jersey Community Capital (NJCC), with a major gift from Goldman Sachs Gives and other key investors

Launched the REBUILD New Jersey loan fund to aid recovery for small businesses in areas most severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy including Jersey City, Newark, and Asbury Park.



An experimental web platform that explores post-crisis community (re)building in America. The innovative platform, with support from the Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation and others, merges compelling multimedia storytelling with curated data, research, and calls to action in one collaborative interactive space. Currently in Beta, LandofOpportunity features an interactive video player that allow users to explore and compare layered narratives about the people and processes that are shaping our increasingly vulnerable landscapes. Partners in different communities can create, curate and share their own multi-layered stories, laying a foundation for communication and knowledge-sharing across places, issues and sectors.