The New $75 Million Fund will Provide Grants and Loans to New York City-Based Social Services and Cultural Organizations to Support Them in the COVID-19 Pandemic

“The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund has stepped in to support New Yorkers in times of adversity — from relief efforts after 9/11 to food needs after Superstorm Sandy. We have arts grantees, health grantees — and organizations in the Illumination Fund’s Arts in Health initiative are at the intersection, utilizing the arts to address issues such as trauma, mental health and aging-related diseases. The need for services of all kinds will be greater than ever before, but nonprofits can’t meet such needs if they and their staffs aren’t also healthy.”

Laurie M. Tisch, President, Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund

Bloomberg Philanthropies, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation, Joan Ganz Cooney & Holly Peterson Fund, Kenneth C. Griffin Charitable Fund, The JPB Foundation, The Estée Lauder Companies Charitable Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The New York Community Trust, Jennifer and Jonathan Allan Soros, Jon Stryker and Slobodan Randjelović, Charles H. Revson Foundation, Robin Hood, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, UJA-Federation of New York, and Wells Fargo Foundation today announced the launch of the NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund to support New York City-based social services and arts and cultural organizations that have been affected by the current coronavirus public health crisis. The new $75 million fund will provide grants and interest-free loans to small and mid-size nonprofits to help them respond to emerging needs, cover losses associated with the disruption of their operations, and help them continue their critical work. The founding member foundations, companies, and individuals are building on their prior experience in local disaster recovery and funding, including 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy.

New York City residents rely on a network of local nonprofit organizations to provide a wide range of important services. Social service organizations provide food, home healthcare, housing, childcare, afterschool services, and more. Arts and cultural organizations provide programs throughout our neighborhoods that contribute significantly to the City’s economy and quality of life. Now, thousands of these vital community organizations across New York’s five boroughs are being impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, risking the continuity of their daily operations and challenging the stability of the critical services they provide. While many organizations are continuing to respond to the immediate needs of impacted, vulnerable community members, too many are struggling due to lost revenue that will diminish their ability to pay rent, make payroll, and continue to fulfill their public service missions. Most of the organizations facing business interruption are unlikely to collect insurance that would be available for other types of disasters.

“The coronavirus pandemic threatens to cripple New York City’s nonprofit organizations and the vitally important services they provide. This joint initiative with so many incredible philanthropic partners will help ensure that many of our city’s nonprofits can withstand this crisis and continue to serve all New Yorkers,” said Patricia E. Harris, CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies. “In this crucial moment, thanks to Mike Bloomberg’s leadership, Bloomberg Philanthropies has also launched an effort to virtually convene U.S. local leaders to share knowledge and response strategies from experts at Johns Hopkins and Harvard. Additionally, we’ve begun an international effort with the WHO and Vital Strategies to stem the spread of coronavirus in low- and middle-income countries. In partnership with so many dedicated leaders and organizations on the front line, we can make a real difference and save lives.”

“We are grateful that once again the New York philanthropic community has come together to do its best in response to a catastrophe,” said Vartan Gregorian, President of Carnegie Corporation of New York. “The coronavirus pandemic is disruptive to our entire society, especially to our children, with the potential for lasting setbacks in their development. The Corporation is pleased to join peer institutions in assisting the City of New York with its many urgent needs, including services for the public school system, such as student meals and arts and cultural programs for 1.1 million children. In addition, our education grantees will have the flexibility needed to expand crucial services like online learning and teacher and parent resources to help communities nationwide.”

The NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund will be administered by the New York Community Trust and will provide grants and interest-free loans. Among social services groups, priority will be given to direct service providers, such as those supporting essential healthcare and food insecurity. In the arts and cultural sector, the Fund will provide support to small and mid-size organizations that work from and are attentive to their communities.

“We at the Mellon Foundation recognize the arts and humanities’ unique power to cultivate hope in the midst of challenges and uncertainty,” noted Elizabeth Alexander, President of the Mellon Foundation, whose commitment will go to arts support. “As artists and cultural institutions adjust to new fiscal realities, we call on funders, businesses, and individuals to join us in supporting the arts and the strength, inspiration, and perspective they bring—in New York City and around the world.”

“The Ford Foundation believes we must respond immediately to the human services needs of  vulnerable New Yorkers and also support the arts and culture infrastructure across the five boroughs,” said Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation.

“This is an unprecedented situation, but the philanthropic community has had experience joining together to respond,” said Lorie Slutsky, President of The New York Community Trust. “The NYC Covid-19 Response & Impact Fund will provide critical funding to shore up the safety net provided by nonprofits across the city as they struggle to keep up with the increased demand for their services. We hope everyone who is passionate about our city and its people will join us.”

Needs to be considered

Recognizing best practice from past experience working through crises, this initiative will provide grants and no-interest loans for needs including:

● Unrestricted, flexible funding to support new and emergency needs and meet community demands, particularly for service offerings outside normal operations required to respond to social distancing, isolation and quarantine.

● Technology to support remote work and services – laptops and remote calling capacity (ie. Zoom) for staff, securing staffing and training to fulfill their mission.

●  Temporary staff support to cover for shortages caused by employees who are ill, may have to quarantine, or stay home to care for family members or children during school closures.

●   Equipment and supplies such as masks, hand sanitizer, gloves, and cleaning supplies.

●  Additional cleaning services to augment in-house operations.

●  Support to aid the loss of operational revenue from facility closings, cancelled programs, events, etc.


To be eligible, an organization must meet the following criteria:

●  501(c)3 nonprofit organization

●  Based in New York City

●  Recipient of New York City and/or New York State government funding

●  Annual operating budget of up to $20M (excluding government contracts)

●  Track record of robust programming and services for New York residents

An advisory committee of leaders in public health, community development, and the arts will help guide the efforts of the new Fund. The New York Community Trust will continue to solicit donations from foundations, corporate partners, and individuals committed to the health and wellbeing of New York City.  The donors to the Fund are committed to an expedited process for decisions and payment of funds to recipient organizations.

The New York Community Trust is New York’s community foundation. It brings together individuals, families, foundations, and businesses to support nonprofits that make a difference. Since 1924, The Trust has been and continues to be a critical part of New York’s philanthropic response. The Trust co-created the September 11th Fund after the attack on the World Trade Center and has worked on issues affecting New Yorkers for decades.

Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF), a nonprofit lender and consultant with 40 years of local and national experience, will administer NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund loans. NFF will offer implementation support and additional resources to organizations receiving loans through this initiative.

Interested organizations can get more information and apply here.

Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund Expands its Arts in Health Initiative

2020 grants support new programs that increase access to the arts to address mental health stigma, trauma, and aging-related diseases

Programs include visual arts, dance, and film-making to serve community members, caregivers and people facing health challenges across New York City

(New York, February 4, 2020) Philanthropist Laurie M. Tisch announced today the expansion of the Illumination Fund’s Arts in Health Initiative to include 3 additional organizations and new programs at 7 others. The new grantees are Mekong NYC, CaringKind’s connect2culture, and Queens Museum’s ArtAccess.

In 2018 the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund launched a $10-million multi-year initiative to support organizations working on health issues that impact New York communities and that utilize the arts as a tool for healing, with a special emphasis on improving access and addressing disparities in health outcomes. The initiative highlights the value of multiple artistic disciplines, including visual art, dance, music, theater, and film, and focuses on three main issues: mental health stigma, trauma, aging-related diseases, as well as caring for caregivers and frontline healthcare staff.

The Illumination Fund is providing new grants to support arts in health initiatives in these organizations:

Mekong NYC focuses on improving the quality of life of Cambodians, Vietnamese and other Southeast Asian communities in the Bronx and throughout New York City. These refugee communities are challenged by health and mental health disparities as well as collective trauma due to war, genocide, and resettlement.  The organization provides access to essential social services, and through cultural and community-building programs Mekong NYC utilizes traditional visual and performing arts to strengthen intergenerational connections, build community pride, foster healing from trauma, and support resilience.

CaringKind’s connect2culture harnesses the power of creative arts and culture and of positive social interaction to improve the lives of persons with dementia and their caregivers. CaringKind, formerly known as Alzheimer’s Association, New York City Chapter, has a particular focus on supporting families and caregivers, who experience higher rates of depression, isolation, and stress than non-dementia caregivers. Connect2Culture is one of CaringKind’s flagship programs, partnering with museums, performing arts organizations and other NYC-based cultural venues to provide participatory programming and to train staff in develop meaningful access programs for people with dementia and their caregivers. The program is undertaking outreach to establish programs in the Bronx and other boroughs.

Queens Museum: ArtAccess provides programs for thousands of children and adults with varying physical, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive abilities across the New York City area, particularly the residents of Queens, a uniquely diverse and international community. ArtAccess also provides outreach services to members of their community who are in special situations, such as hospital-bound children suffering from extended illness, people with disabilities, special-needs students, caregivers, incarcerated youth, and children in foster care. ArtAccess programs are designed and led by licensed art therapists and arts educators.

Additionally, The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund is providing new grants to advance the work of the following outstanding organizations through initiatives and development of organizational capacity.

Changing Minds Young Filmmakers Competition, a program of Community Access, is an online film submission competition for filmmakers ages 15-25, using film as a storytelling medium to combat mental health stigma among youth. Last year youth from across the country submitted more than 950 films, and Community Access debuted its first Changing Minds Young Filmmaker Festival to show selected films.  In 2020, Community Access is launching a partnership with the Jewish Board to reach classroom teachers, guidance counselors, and mental health professionals at public schools in New York City, as well as at community colleges and youth-serving organizations.

Fountain House Gallery, a program of Fountain House, provides an environment for artists living and working with serious mental illness to pursue their creative visions and to challenge the stigma that surrounds mental illness. Its Gallery in Manhattan is a nonprofit exhibition space.  In 2017, Fountain House established a dedicated studio space in Long Island City to provide working space for artists with mental illness and create opportunities to foster artistic talent, further mental health recovery, and prepare these artists to enter the highly competitive art market.. This year, Fountain House Gallery is building upon its successful Artist Studio Program by hosting artists in residence and providing training workshops and guidance in professional development.  

The Art Therapy Project is the only non-profit in New York dedicated solely to providing free, guided art therapy to adults and youth affected by trauma, including veterans, survivors of sexual assault, and at-risk youth. In partnership with more than two dozen nonprofit organizations throughout NYC, the Art Therapy Project uses the creative process and support from art therapists to learn how to explore feelings, increase self-awareness, and cope with life’s challenges. In 2020, the organization is expanding training for working and aspiring Licensed Creative Arts Therapists, social workers, and mental health professionals.

Gibney uses dance and movement workshops as a vehicle to help survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Gibney’s Move To Move Beyond program helps survivors address issues of choice, self-care and self-expression. In partnership with Sanctuary for Families, Gibney choreographers and dancers offer over 365 workshops yearly at local domestic violence shelters and partner sites. In 2020, Gibney is working with a group of Sanctuary for Families “Survivor Leaders” to offer performance and advocacy opportunities so that their experiences can educate and inspire broader communities.

The Creative Center at University Settlement uses arts participation to promote creative aging and as an outlet for patients and survivors of cancer and other serious diseases. In 2020, The Creative Center will advance core programs, including Artists in Residence at hospitals in New York City, daily workshops in visual, performing, and literary arts, and a Training Institute for Artists and Administrators in Healthcare and Creative Aging.

Dance for PD, a program of the Mark Morris Dance Group, provides dance and movement workshops for people with Parkinson’s Disease, with classes available in all five boroughs. The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund’s grant will support ongoing programming as well as expansion of these programs to communities in need in Upper Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island, and Central Brooklyn, as part of an initiative to increase diversity, equity, inclusion, access to, and engagement in classes.

Arts & Minds provides museum-based workshops for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementia and their caregivers at 14 museums. In 2020, Arts & Minds is expanding outreach in the Spanish-speaking communities of East Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood, where rates of dementia are disproportionately high, and will be formalizing a training program for museum staff and docents to design and implement programs in additional sites.  

“In 2018 a national Harris Poll found that more than 8 in 10 Americans believe the arts can help address key health challenges in their lives and in the lives of their loved ones,” said Rick Luftglass, Executive Director of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund. “The public sees the power of the arts in challenging mental health stigma, overcoming traumatic events, and providing therapeutic benefits and quality of life for people with aging-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s, other dementias and Parkinson’s. Our Arts in Health initiative helps strengthen and advance these innovative programs.”

About the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund

The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund is a New York City-based foundation that strives to improve access and opportunity for all New Yorkers and foster healthy and vibrant communities.  The Illumination Fund plays an active role in supporting innovative approaches across a range of issues – ensuring that the arts and arts education are accessible to all, increasing access to healthy food, promoting civic service, and promoting economic opportunity. In 2018, the Illumination Fund launched Arts in Health, a $10-million multi-year initiative to support organizations working on health issues that impact New York communities and that emphasize the arts as a tool for healing and building understanding. The new initiative’s areas of focus have included the unique role of the arts in addressing mental illness stigma, trauma, and aging-related diseases. For more information, visit or follow @LMTischFund on Twitter.

NYC Health + Hospitals Arts in Medicine program releases Request for Qualifications for 2020 Community Mural Project

Request for Qualifications (RFQ)




NYC Health + Hospitals Arts in Medicine (AIM), with support from the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, is seeking a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for lead artists to work on the NYC Health + Hospitals Community Murals Project (CMP). Continuing the tradition established in the 1930s when the Works Progress Administration supported hundreds of murals across New York City’s public hospitals, the CMP will connect artists and local community members to re-imagine hospitals and promote greater neighborhood wellness.

Visual artists will engage with patients, staff, and local residents to create an integrated internal or external mural at selected NYC Health + Hospitals facilities. The aim of the program is to use a collaborative mural making process as a tool to build trust and engagement between the hospitals and their communities, build neighborhood pride, and reduce the stigma associated with hospitals through community building activities.

Proposed themes can include:

  • Stronger Together
  • We are Part of Something Great
  • We Make a Difference
  • Health & Wellness for All
  • Freedom to Thrive
  • ICARE Values (Integrity, Compassion, Accountability, Respect, Excellence)

NYC Health + Hospitals Arts in Medicine anticipates selecting ten (10) professional visual artists to work closely with ten (10) NYC Health + Hospitals facilities to engage staff and community members in a participatory design process and to create and install ten (10) health themed murals. Murals will be installed in both internal and external locations at the facilities, all of which will be highly visible public areas. This collaboration will last from March 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. This RFQ is soliciting ten (10) professional visual artists that have a portfolio of work executing large-scale murals, have connections with the boroughs and communities of New York City, and experience facilitating workshops and events that engage diverse communities in the creative process.

Project Budget:
The Project Budget is $8,000.00 per location for artist fees including design services, community engagement, site preparation, fabrication, travel, and installation. NYC Health + Hospitals AIM will provide any necessary supplies, permits, insurance, and documentation. NYC Health + Hospitals Arts in Medicine Department will execute a deliverables-based MOU valued at $8,000.00 with the lead artist. Lead artists will be paid 1/2 upfront, and 1/2 upon completion. NYC Health + Hospitals Arts in Medicine Department will cover all costs related to art supplies and additional materials for workshops and community events, equipment for the installation, special insurance, permits for mural sites and other relevant costs relating to the production of the murals.

Who May Apply:
Professional visual artists or artist teams working in any media, legally authorized to work in the United States, and who are at least 18 years of age, are eligible to apply. Artists with ties to neighborhoods and communities of the participating NYC Health + Hospitals facilities are encouraged to apply, as well as artists with experience in community engagement practices. NYC Health + Hospitals is committed to the values of inclusion and advancing diversity in the field of arts and health. We highly encourage applicants that are traditionally underrepresented* to submit to this RFQ.

*Including, but not limited to: Immigrant, Indigenous, LGBTQIA, Person of Color, Person with Disability, Socioeconomic Disadvantaged

The project period will occur from March 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020.

Deadline for Submission of RFQ:

Friday, February 7, 2020 at 11:59 pm EDT
**Late applications may be disqualified from consideration.**

Finalist Interviews will be held during of February 20 and February 21, 2020.

Selected artists will be notified on February 28, 2020

Project Locations:

Size of each mural will not exceed 300 square feet

**You will be able to choose your preferred locations in the application form linked at the end of this description:

Queens Hospital (Interior Wall)
82-68 164th St, Jamaica, NY 11432
Coler Specialty Hospital (Interior Wall)
900 Main St, Roosevelt Island, New York, NY 10044
Judson Gotham Health (Interior Wall)
34 Spring St, Manhattan, NY 10012
Elmhurst Hospital (Interior)
79-01 Broadway, Elmhurst, NY 11373
Lincoln Medical Center (Interior Wall)
234 E 149th St, The Bronx, NY 10451
Woodhull Hospital (Exterior Wall)
760 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11206
Gouverneur Gotham Health (Exterior)
227 Madison St, Manhattan, NY 10002
Harlem Hospital (Interior Wall)
506 Lenox Ave, New York, NY 10037
Sea View Hospital (Interior Wall)
460 Brielle Ave, Staten Island, NY 10314
Jacobi Hospital (Exterior Wall)
1400 Pelham Pkwy S, The Bronx, NY 10461

Project Calendar:

Mural Artists will be required to be on site for 5 public events, plus additional days to present to the facility CEO, prepare mural panels before the Paint Party, finish painting after the Paint Party, and installation. Time required for preparation, finishing, and installation will be dependent on mural size and detail.

Each mural project will be executed over a period of four (4) months, on a rolling basis from March 9, 2020 through December 31, 2020. The NYC Health + Hospitals facility will choose their start date and mural artists may be paired accordingly.

All mural artists will be required to attend an in-person training and onboarding in March 2020, exact date TBD

Artists are expected to develop mural concepts, themes, imagery through engaging with the H + H staff, patients, and greater community during Engagement Day, Focus Groups, and CEO Presentation. Designs will not be considered final until approved by the facility CEO. The CEO will be asked to limit rounds of revisions to a maximum of two (2).


To Apply to be a mural artist, visit:

Application Form: 2020 Lead Artists for NYC Health + Hospitals Community Murals Project


If you have any further questions or inquiries about the Request for Qualifications, please email them to:
or you can reach out via: Residency Unlimited’s Contact Page


Illumination Fund Rolls Out Arts in Health Initiative by Convening 2018 Grantees to Support Exchange and Collaboration

In addition to making grants, in the first year of the Arts in Health initiative the Illumination Fund convened its grantee partners, health experts, New York City arts leaders, foundations, philanthropists and community partners to share ideas and demonstrate impact.  Each event focused on a distinct theme and showcased three of LMTIF’s 2018 grantees.

“Throughout our 10-year history, the Illumination Fund has been a proponent for access to the arts for all New Yorkers,” said Laurie M. Tisch, president and founder.  “The arts play a unique role in developing minds, enriching lives, strengthening communities and contributing to a vibrant culture. Creative expression can be a tool to help individuals and communities by aiding with coping and recovery, building understanding, promoting wellness and resilience, and reducing stigma so the barriers to care are reduced. But why should someone’s zip code determine the access they have to care? Why should the arts be available only to those with financial means? We at the Illumination Fund believe that the arts benefit everyone, and the organizations we support are those that are working to provide more access to people who otherwise would not have it.”

Utilizing the Arts to Address the Stigma of Mental Illness

The first gathering in the foundation’s Arts in Health initiative was held April 24th, 2018 at Hunter College’s Roosevelt House, in partnership with the Aspen Institute and Hunter College.  The gathering examined ways that the arts are addressing mental health stigma. The event featured leaders of three New York-based organizations and agencies working in the field: Community Access, Fountain House and the NYC Mural Arts Project at the Department of Health.

New York City’s First Lady, Chirlane McCray, provided welcome remarks, sharing her own commitment to fighting stigma and increasing support for New Yorkers with mental illness.

Introductory remarks were provided by Patrick Corrigan, author, Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the Illinois Institute of Technology, and a foremost expert in mental health stigma who has authored or edited more than 400 peer-reviewed articles and 15 books on mental health.

“Many people with serious mental illness are challenged doubly,” says Dr. Corrigan. “On one hand, they struggle with the symptoms and disabilities that result from the disease. On the other, they are challenged by the stereotypes and prejudice that result from misconceptions about mental illness. As a result, people with mental illness are robbed of the opportunities that define a quality life: good jobs, safe housing, satisfactory health care, and affiliation with a diverse group of people.”

According to Corrigan, “The stigma of mental illness is first and foremost a social justice issue. Although stigmatizing attitudes are not limited to mental illness, the public seems to disapprove of persons with psychiatric disabilities significantly more than persons with related conditions such as physical illness. Severe mental illness has been likened to drug addiction, prostitution, and criminality.”

Corrigan’s research has identified several key ingredients to effective anti-stigma initiatives, including face-to-face contact, sharing stories about personal challenges, presenters with “lived experiences,” contact that includes a common goal, and having an uplifting message.  Those ingredients undergird the Changing Minds Young Filmmaker Competition, the NYC Mural Arts Project, and Fountain House Gallery.

The Arts as a Tool to Address Trauma

On September 17, 2018, at Hostos Community College LMTIF convened experts and stakeholders to discuss the role of the arts in addressing trauma.  Co-hosted with Bronx Council on the Arts, the gathering featured the Art Therapy Project, Theater of War, and Gibney. Framing the issue of trauma was Dr. Loree Sutton, retired Brigadier General and founding commissioner for the New York City Department of Veterans’ Services, our nation’s first municipal-level agency devoted entirely to veterans and their families. Dr. Sutton shared personal stories and a offered a stirring reminder that the trauma of war affects our entire society, not just the people experiencing it directly, but also touching the families and friends of veterans, and continuing to have impact for generations afterwards.

Theater of War at Hostos Community College

Bryan Doerries, Artist Director of Theater of War, engaged actors Kathryn Erbe and David Zayas to perform excerpts from Sophocles Ajax. The program closed with a special performance by Survivor Leaders in Gibney’s Community Action movement workshop program for survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse.

The National Institute of Health department of Veteran Affairs reports that 7.7 million Americans experience PTSD each year. Combat-related trauma is only part of the story. PTSD United, a service organization, reports that currently an estimated 8% of Americans–or 24.4 million people—suffer from trauma-related illness.

The National Institute of Health department of Veteran Affairs reports that 7.7 million Americans experience PTSD each year. Combat-related trauma is only part of the story. PTSD United, a service organization, reports that currently an estimated 8% of Americans–or 24.4 million people—suffer from trauma-related illness.

Trauma can be caused by experiencing or witnessing frightening, life-threatening or violent events. It can also be the result of prolonged or repeated exposure to injurious conditions. In all cases, trauma has a profound effect on individuals, families and communities. An effective way to help individuals and communities cope and to recover is through creative expression. Using the arts as a tool can promote wellness and resilience, reduce the stigma wrongfully associated with trauma victims, and help foster broader understanding and the lowering of barriers to care.

In 2018 the Illumination Fund commissioned a national Harris Poll that found that 87% of Americans surveyed believe that the arts help people overcome a traumatic event. 

The Arts in Addressing Aging-Related Diseases

On November 28, 2018, LMTIF hosted a gathering to explore the role of the arts to help address aging-related diseases at the Mark Morris Dance Studio in Brooklyn, featuring Dance for PD (Parkinson’s disease), Arts & Minds, and The Creative Center at University Settlement. The gathering also featured a special performance of a monologue from Colman Domingo’s extraordinary play, Dot, performed by Denise Burse, who starred in Kenny Leon’s production at RestorationART’s Billie Holiday Theater in Bedford Stuyvesant.

 “The arts are a creative outlet, they can spark memory, provide physical and psychological support, and, engaging in the arts with others can help build community as well as lower stigma and social isolation, not just for the person suffering from illness, but for his or her family and caregivers,” said Laurie M. Tisch, president and founder of the Illumination Fund. “The organizations we support are working in all of these areas and at the same time are helping to level the playing field, so that more people have the support they need.”

Aging-related diseases cut across social, ethnic and economic boundaries. Engagement in the arts can be a critical tool to help people cope with illness and improve their outlook and quality of life. Engagement in the arts also decreases isolation and builds community not only for the person living with an illness, but for family and caregivers. There is a wide gap in quality of life for aging populations in New York between those with financial resources and those without. Support from the Illumination Fund is intended to help organizations serve more people, build capacity within their organizations and level the playing field.

Denise Burse, star of Colman Domingo’s Dot, performing a monologue with Indira Etwaroo, RestorationART


The convenings brought attention to disparities in both rates of aging-related disease and access to care among poor and minority populations. Stress, due to poverty, discrimination, adversity and trauma is thought to impact aging-related disease rates in African American and Latinx populations. Higher rates of cardiovascular disease and diabetes are also thought to be factors in increased risk for Alzheimer’s and other dementias among lower-income and minority populations.

Gender plays another significant role. Almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women. But women who suffer from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are less likely to have informal care from spouses, family and communities.  A recent study shows that women with Parkinson’s tend to lack much-needed support from informal caregivers such as spouses, family members and paid health aides. Female patients are more frequent users of formal, paid caregiver services than male patients.

Stigmas and misconceptions associated with dementia and Parkinson’s are widespread. . People with dementia and Parkinson’s, and their families, are often isolated, or hidden, because of stigma or the possibility of negative reactions from neighbors, relatives, friends or employers. . People with dementias and Parkinson’s often conceal their diagnoses because of concerns about being treated differently or avoided in social situations and this may contribute to feelings of hopelessness and frustration. As with cancer and HIV, fear and stigma associated with Alzheimer’s disease, related dementias or Parkinson’s may cause individuals to delay seeking a diagnosis and care.

Participants in Dance for PD performance

NYC Health + Hospitals and the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund Launch Arts in Medicine Program

NYC Health + Hospitals and the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund Launch Arts in Medicine Program

Nation’s largest public health system and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City awarded $1.5 million from the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund to expand programs serving health care staff, patients, and communities in sites across the City

Expansion includes initiatives to use the arts as a resource to promote employee wellness and resilience and to combat compassion fatigue

(New York, NY ― February 27, 2019)  Joined by New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray and NYC Health + Hospitals leadership—the philanthropist Laurie M. Tisch announced today at a news conference a $1.5 million grant via the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City to launch the public health system’s Arts in Medicine program. The program will introduce new initiatives benefiting staff and patients at hospitals, community health centers, and long-term care facilities, as well as support broader adoption of initiatives that have worked at a single site. The news conference was held at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue.

The grant is provided through the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund’s Arts in Health initiative, which supports organizations using the arts to address health issues affecting New Yorkers, with particular attention to increasing access to care and addressing disparities in health outcomes. The three-year grant to NYC Health + Hospitals, which is the largest municipal health system in the country and serves approximately 1.1 million New Yorkers annually, will significantly expand the public health system’s arts programs.

Beyond serving patients, the Arts in Medicine program will create new initiatives aimed at staff as a means to reduce stress, support emotional health, and help address “compassion fatigue,” historically known as “physician burnout.”

“NYC Health + Hospitals is in the vanguard of hospital systems across the country using the arts as a tool for healing,” said Laurie Tisch, Founder and President of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund. “We know from decades of research that the arts have an important role to play in reducing stress and helping individuals in their healing process. We are pleased to be able to help increase access to these services to more patients, and also to the healthcare professionals who are so vital to the system. As first responders, doctors and health professionals are under enormous stress, and these programs are proven tools to support them in their work.” Ms. Tisch also serves as Vice Chairman of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and Trustee and Past Chairman of the Whitney Museum of American Art.

“I am grateful for the additional resources and greater attention we are now able to give our caretakers and their patients. New York City’s health care providers are on the frontlines every day and we must support them in every way we can,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “Art is an important tool that can reduce stress and promote healing, and should be available to everyone. The Mayor’s Fund is grateful to Laurie Tisch and the Illumination Fund for their commitment to using art to support mental health.”

“Engaging in the arts makes for happier patients and less stressed staff, and we want our care community to benefit from a substantive and accessible Arts in Medicine program,” said Mitchell Katz, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of NYC Health + Hospitals. “We are enormously grateful to Laurie Tisch and the Illumination Fund for their generosity and for having the appreciation and foresight to encourage the arts as a tool for fostering wellness and making it a priority for our patients and staff.”

“The arts empower us, inspire us, and help support a healthier, healing environment.  Art can be complementary to the physical care we provide by helping improve one’s emotional well-being, reduce stress, and alleviate anxiety,” said William Hicks, CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue. “Art belongs in public and shared spaces, and it communicates our value of creative human expression. It demonstrates passion, skill, and diversity and is similarly reflected in our dedicated staff at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue. We are grateful for the gifts of art on display such as ‘Ruth’s Dream’ in our south lobby, our sculptures, lithographs, and other mixed media that enriches our facility. This is a place where art meets medicine as we work to alleviate suffering and restore wellness.”

“Arts in Medicine is a fantastic example of innovation that’s possible when philanthropy, advocates, and government partner to develop solutions to some of our more complex public challenges—such as improving public health approaches and outcomes,” said Darren Bloch, Senior Advisor to the Mayor and Director of the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Partnerships. “We are grateful for the support the Illumination Fund is bringing to the nation’s largest municipal hospital system, and the vision shared by Laurie M. Tisch and our partners at the Mayor’s Fund and Health + Hospitals.”

“The power of partnership is on full display today with the launch of Arts in Medicine,” said Toya Williford, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. “Patients and health care workers will benefit from art as a tool to promote healing, and to lower workplace stress, anxiety, and fatigue. Our longstanding partnership with the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund exemplifies the important role public-private partnerships play to increase access to care while improving health outcomes. We are incredibly thankful to Laurie Tisch for her unwavering commitment to supporting a shared healing process for our health care workers and the patients they serve.”

“Art and culture contribute to healthy, thriving communities across NYC, something that our colleagues at NYC Health + Hospitals understand and embrace,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. “We applaud the Mayor’s Fund and the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund for supporting this effort to integrate the arts into our health care system—connecting medical professionals, caregivers, and patients directly; encouraging dialogue and collaboration; and transforming situations better known for stress and anxiety into positive, creative experiences.”

“Art therapy is a valuable component of promoting patient well-being, especially in mental and behavioral health treatment,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried.“Thank you to Laurie M. Tish for helping Health + Hospitals continue to be a national leader in providing a comprehensive and diverse set of patient and staff supports and services, and this grant will significantly expand access to these programs.” 

The Arts in Medicine program will introduce new initiatives such as:

  • HHArt of Medicine, an art-observation initiative that guides clinicians through intensive art viewing designed to enhance focus, improve communication, and encourage active listening, which in turn improves their ability to serve patients;
  • SoulCollage, workshops that facilitate self-discovery through collage composition to help staff express and share their experiences and emotions; and
  • Communal Murals, collaborative projects of hospital artists in residence, staff, and community members to create stunning works of art inside and outside facilities.

“Studies conducted in 2007 by Repar and Patton demonstrated that arts programs can lower rates of tension, anger, depression, and fatigue—symptoms of burnout and compassion fatigue. We value our staff, and Arts in Medicine will help bring back the joy in work and improve outcomes for staff and ultimately the patients,” said Linh Dang, Senior Director of the Arts in Medicine Program at NYC Health + Hospitals. 

Additionally, patient-oriented programs that have taken place in single hospitals will be expanded to other hospitals and clinics. For example, Music & Memory engages patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia and cognitive loss by creating personalized playlists with familiar songs for enhanced memory retrieval and cognitive functioning, among a variety of other positive health effects. The Lullaby Project, another example, partners pregnant women and new mothers with professional musicians to compose lullabies for their babies, ultimately reducing maternal anxiety and depression, aiding in child development, and strengthening the bond between parent and child.

“Employees throughout the system have taken the initiative to create extraordinary programs,” but they have happened in isolation,” said Dr. Katz.  “Expanding programs to new sites will leverage the engagement and enthusiasm and will enable staff to collaborate across our system and learn from each other.”

“Today, we are re-imagining the role of the arts in our health system to create active programming that will enrich our community,” said Dave A. Chokshi, MD, NYC Health + Hospitals Vice President and Chief Population Health Officer. “Arts in Medicine is about engaging patients, clinicians, caregivers, and staff in different types of healing connections. Visual arts, performing arts, theater, and literary arts help us tap into imagination, creativity, and expression as part of improving health.”

Physicians have reported a sense of renewed energy and focus as a direct result of engaging in the arts. Research on outcomes involving medical students who engaged in art observation training—reported on in the January 2018 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology—found that observational skills were improved significantly.

“I was first exposed to art in medicine when my residency class participated in an interactive art observation session at the Detroit Institute of Arts,” said Eric Wei, MD,Vice President and Chief Quality Officer at NYC Health + Hospitals. “Even though we were looking at the same painting, we had different interpretations of what was going on. It helped me realize how this happens at the bedside and how important communication is to achieving a shared mental model.”

Although art observation programs have existed for medical students and physicians in training and often have taken place in museums, the new visual art observation program will take advantage of the health system’s extensive collection of more than 3,000 art works, which began with commissioned pieces through the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s and grew to include some of America’s leading artists such as Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, and Keith Haring. The health system’s collection is the largest public art collection in New York City.

The creation of the Arts in Medicine program to address compassion fatigue among staff also fits with related programs at NYC Health + Hospitals. Helping Healers Heal is one such initiative launched by the public health system in April 2018. Following the model first adopted by Drs. Katz and Wei when they served together in the Los Angeles public health system, this peer-led employee wellness program offers emotional first aid to health care providers who are suffering from workplace stress or anxiety and may be at high risk of depression.

Arts and Medicine, at a glance

  • Initiatives for patients
    • Music & Memory®
    • The Lullaby Project
    • Visible Ink, a writing project to support patients battling cancer
  • Initiatives for staff
    • HHArt of Medicine
    • SoulCollage®
  • Initiatives for patients, staff, and the community
    • Communal Murals
    • Audio Art Tour
    • Rotating Art Exhibits
    • Live Concerts

Other initiatives are expected to be introduced over time.

Seventh Annual Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize Winners

On October 12, a ceremony and reception was held in honor of this year’s recipients of the seventh annual Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize. These awards are given to individuals and nonprofit organizations in the New York metropolitan area for distinguished accomplishment in urban public health.  The 2017 recipients are the Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center in the Bronx and Diane Arneth, Executive Director of Community Health Action of Staten Island and Chief Community Services Officer of Brightpoint Health.

Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center (MMFYC) serves the primarily nonwhite Crotona neighborhood of the Bronx. When its Teen Council researched the diets of children in the area in recent years, it found that fully half would likely develop diabetes in their lifetimes. Inspired to action by the results, the MMFYC empowered the Teen Council and community at large to create a health initiative to support health choices for individuals and collaboration among community leaders to ensure an environment where healthy options were available. The initiative includes a highly successful food buying club, support of a local farmers market, plus other efforts to increase access to healthy food and make systemic change. By expanding opportunities, developing leadership, and building community, it is the goal of the board, staff, and youth of the Center to change the environment of Crotona without gentrification so its residents can achieve “complete physical, mental and social wellbeing” as defined by the World Health Organization.

Diane Arneth, is the Executive Director of the Community Health Action of Staten Island (CHASI) and Chief Community Services Officer of Brightpoint Health. Arneth has consistently demonstrated her ability to address public health challenges as they emerge. As executive director for CHASI for the past twenty-six years, Arneth has overseen the growth of the organization from its earliest days, when it operated with a budget of only $150,000, to the multi-site, multi-service agency it is today, with a budget of $11.2 million. She has been a passionate and committed advocate for the residents of State Island, 20,000 of whom are served annually by the comprehensive range of services her organization provides, including case management, comprehensive substance use disorder services, emergency food and benefits assistance, HIV, HCV, and diabetes testing and prevention services for 20,000 Staten Islanders annually.

The awards were presented by President Raab, Laurie Tisch, Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, and Harold Holzer, the Jonathan F. Fanton Director at Roosevelt House. The Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize is made possible with support from the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund. The Prize is a tribute to Joan H. Tisch in recognition of her humanitarian activism in health care and social services in New York City.

Illumination Fund-supported film, In Search of Israeli Cuisine, Available on Netflix

The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund is excited to announce that the documentary, In Search of Israeli Cuisine, is now available on Netflix, and continues its series of screenings in communities across the U.S.

The film premiered at Lincoln Plaza Cinema and Angelika Film Center. The film has already been shown at more than 100 festivals and special screenings around the world.

Filmmaker Roger Sherman explores the vibrant and up-and-coming culinary scene in Israel with chef/guide, Michael Solomonov of Zahav Restaurant in Philadelphia. Throughout the film, Sherman discovers the surprisingly diverse and beautiful food traditions of Israeli people—Moroccan, Persian, Lebanese, French, Italian, and Russian—Jewish, Arab, Palestinian, Christian, Druze.

Roger is a founder of Florentine Films; his films have won a James Beard Award, an Emmy, a Peabody, and two Academy Award nominations.

The Laurie M. Illumination Fund funded the film to support constructive expression, cultural exploration and communication.

Grantees NEBHDCo and Green City Force Featured on an Episode of NBC’s Give

Did you ever think you’d see a TV reality show about philanthropy and nonprofits?

Well, now there is one!  It’s called Give, and we and two of our grantees were featured on January 14.

Give is part of the NBC network’s new programming block “The More You Know.”  Give highlights the world of philanthropy by featuring the stories of high-impact nonprofit organizations around the country.  Blair Underwood is the Executive Producer, and his co-host is Jenna Bush Hager.

In each episode, a celebrity ambassador visits two nonprofits that use innovation, best practices and dedication for change in their communities and the world.  Give’s producers invited the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund to nominate two organizations that share our mission – to increase access and opportunity for all New Yorkers.

Jenna visited Brooklyn to meet NEBHDCo at its Golden Harvest Client-Choice Food Pantry in Bed-Stuy and Green City Force’s Urban Farm Corps at New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) farm in Canarsie. Laurie Tisch joined Jenna, Blair and consultant Joan Garry to discuss Jenna’s site visits.

These organizations work to increase access to healthy food and economic opportunity in New York City’s economically challenged neighborhoods.  We’re thrilled that they received this recognition.

• NEBHDCo is one of five neighborhood-based community development corporations (CDC’s) that were convened by LISC NYC to create Communities for Healthy Food (CfHF).  LISC NYC’s Communities for Healthy Food is a place-based initiative that integrates access to healthy and affordable food into every aspect of the CDC’s comprehensive community development work.  The Give episode showcases NEBHDCo’s TurnUp Program, a component of its Growing Youth Power Project – a year-round holistic food justice project for youth ages 13 – 18.

• Green City Force is a nationally recognized Brooklyn-based organization that recruits 18-24 year old NYCHA housing residents for rigorous workforce training and AmeriCorps service positions leading to jobs in the sustainability sector.  Their flagship programs are the Clean Energy Corps and the Urban Farm Corps.  In 2016, Urban Farm Corps members built three new farms as a part of NYCHA’s Urban Agriculture Initiative and the City’s Building Healthy Communities initiative, led by the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Partnerships with the Fund for Public Health.  The Urban Farm Corps engages NYCHA residents and community members and encourages healthy eating through nutrition education, hands-on activities, and community-wide events.

Watch the full episode here.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor Receives Preston Robert Tisch 2016 Award in Civic Leadership

On December 8th, Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, received the Preston Robert Tisch Award in Civic Leadership for her distinguished career of judicial service. As the first Latina justice, Sotomayor explained how her upbringing in the South Bronx and her Puerto Rican identity, as well as her experiences as Assistant District Attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office and as a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, informed her concern for the rights of defendants and impassioned dissents supporting equality. During these divisive times, she encouraged the audience to see these challenging events as an opportunity “to get up and figure out what we have to do right, to get up and work harder at the things we believe are right, and to get up and go out and challenge the things we think are wrong.”

The event took place at the MoMA and was moderated by Walter Isaacson. The program is an annual Aspen Institute Award in memory of Preston Robert Tisch sponsored by Steve Tisch, Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch, and the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund.

Watch the program here.

The Preston Robert Tisch Award in Civic Leadership presented to Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The Aspen Institute. Friday, December 9, 2016, 6:30pm, Museum of Modern Art, NYC. Credit Photo: Erin Baiano

The Preston Robert Tisch Award in Civic Leadership presented to Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The Aspen Institute. Friday, December 9, 2016, 6:30pm, Museum of Modern Art, NYC. Credit Photo: Erin Baiano

Sixth Annual Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize Winners

The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund and Hunter College are pleased to award this year’s Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize to three recipients—two nonprofit organizations and an individual—for outstanding accomplishments in the field of urban public health. The recipients were formally recognized on October 5th at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College in a ceremony hosted by Hunter President Jennifer J. Raab.

This year’s recipients are:

Bloomingdale Aging in Place (BAiP) serves Manhattan’s Upper West Side from 96th and 110th Streets and from Riverside Drive to Central Park West. Its mission is to help older adults lead vital, safe, connected, and comfortable lives in their home communities as their needs evolve. An all-volunteer, intergenerational network of neighbors, BAiP builds community by organizing social activities, sharing information, providing supplemental nourishment and extending a helping hand to aging neighbors who continue to live at home.

The Bronx Transitions Clinic (BTC) is a collaboration between Montefiore Medical Center and the Osborne Association to address the health disparities at the nexus of criminal justice and community health for a marginalized population at a particularly vulnerable time. BTC‘s innovative model for primary care serves individuals recently released from incarceration, connecting them with high-quality medical care; and community care workers drawn from the formerly incarcerated to manage and navigate care for its patients.

Thelma Dye, Ph.D., Hilde L. Mosse Executive Director and CEO at Northside Center for Child Development has over 22 years served as the Director of the Clinic, Director of Research and Training and Chief Psychologist for the Center. Under Dr. Dye’s leadership, Northside has quadrupled its budget, and now serves more than 3,600 underserved children with mental health needs. Her recognition of the need to holistically treat the whole child led her to establish Clinics in Schools to provide diagnostic and therapeutic services to those in need and support to school personnel.

The awards were presented by President Raab, Laurie Tisch, Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, and Harold Holzer, the Jonathan F. Fanton Director at Roosevelt House. The Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize is made possible with support from the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund. The Prize is a tribute to Joan H. Tisch in recognition of her humanitarian activism in health care and social services in New York City.