Looking Back At Our 2018 Grantmaking

As we look ahead to 2019, we are inspired by the courage, strength and resilience of every person who wrote to us this past year.  

In 2018, we awarded over $3 million in grants, received 1,509 letters, and had the privilege of collaborating with over 250 individuals and families who received a one-time grant from the Letters Foundation. Our 2018 grant recipients represent 43 states across the United States, allowing our team to better understand the specific challenges constituents face from all corners of the country. 821 total grant payments were to support our individual and institutional giving.

Many of the letters we received this past year spoke to the chronic challenges families across the country face, including lack of access to adequate health care, fear of being displaced from their homes due to rapidly rising housing costs, parents unable to get to their jobs because they don’t have access to a reliable vehicle, and traumas ranging from acute circumstances to intergenerational histories. While challenges remain profound, the trust our constituents place in us by sharing their stories, as well as the collaboration they engage in to help us understand their unique circumstances, remain humbling and important aspects of our work.

“I realized that simply surviving is way too close to dying, and that learning is synonymous with life,” Kalista Pierre wrote in her testimony in Letters to Doris, after receiving a grant from the Foundation in 2018.  Kalista’s words underscore a powerful truth that survival is often not a choice for many families, it’s a hard reality.  Yet, Kalista’s experience demonstrates her resilience and the power of community, overcoming deep-seated barriers, in part, by leveraging the resources at One Family, Inc., a local nonprofit committed to creating pathways to economic independence through higher education for homeless and low-income families in Massachusetts.

Kalista Pierre speaking at our Letters to Doris book launch on December 19, 2018. Photo Credit: Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo

Like many people across the country, pursuing education is a top priority for Kalista, while she simultaneously balances family, jobs, financial stresses, among other responsibilities, and unexpected crises.  Witnessing Kalista’s strength and ability to navigate the challenges in her life remain inspiring. Working alongside One Family, Inc., through our Community Partners Program, to better support Kalista during a critical time, also speaks to the importance of collaboration.

Our mandate — Every letter read — continues to motivate our team to fulfill Doris Buffett’s distinct approach to giving directly to individuals. Doris’ kind yet practical approach to problem-solving will always inform our grantmaking, and her emphasis on providing a hand-up is central to every grant we give. We want to express our deepest gratitude to every person who took the time and care to send a letter to us and look forward to our work in the year to come.

Here is a snapshot of our giving in 2018: