Stand Together joins COVID Commission Planning Group

The Covid Commission Planning Group (CPG) will organize a National Commission that builds a foundation to understand COVID-19’s global impact, how to protect against future public health catastrophes

April 13, 2021 – Stand Together, a philanthropic community tackling some of the biggest challenges of our times, announced today that it will team with the Schmidt Futures, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Skoll Foundation to support the COVID Commission Planning Group (CPG). The multi-sector, cross discipline alliance is uniting to help organize a national commission whose focus will be to understand societal fault lines exposed by the pandemic and preserve the lessons of the COVID-19 crisis.

COVID-19, one of the worst tragedies to touch the world in over a century, has cost millions of lives and is disrupting communities in ways previously unimaginable. The virus and the world’s response have exposed profound gaps in society’s ability to contain a wide-scale public health emergency, keep people safe and healthy, minimize economic harm, and sustain educational institutions, making an investigation imperative.

While a national commission will not have the final word on what caused this crisis and what it will take to stop the next one, it can help build a common understanding of preparedness gaps that left society vulnerable to this pandemic and how those weak spots may be addressed in the future.

“This National Commission on COVID-19 will help ensure that our country is much better prepared for a crisis of this magnitude,” said Brian Hooks, CEO of Stand Together. “As we cast a hopeful eye to a safer future, we must also look back to better understand what worked and what did not, learning from the remarkable accomplishments of the past year as well as the tragic failures. Stand Together is honored to unite with world- class foundations, scholars, and practitioners to support a thorough investigation of the pandemic.”

Housed at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, the CPG will be led by Dr. Philip Zelikow, who served as executive director of the government’s 9/11 Commission and the earlier, privately organized Carter-Ford Commission on Federal Election Reform.

Stand Together’s partnership in the COVID CPG reflects the organization’s latest effort to help society unite and heal from the pandemic – this time, by supporting research into its impact and the efficacy of strategies to contain it, not just in government, but across the institutions of business, education, and communities. Since the pandemic’s onset in the United States over one year ago, the Stand Together community has mobilized to help people, including vulnerable populations, who have been negatively impacted by the virus.

Through a joint national rapid-response initiative with FII called #GiveTogetherNow, Stand Together raised $120M for families financially impacted by COVID-19. The funds provided over 240,000 struggling families with immediate direct cash assistance. The effort was supported by major philanthropic leaders including Blue Meridian Partners,, DeVos Family Foundations, Stripe, the Schultz Family Foundation, Chase Koch, Elizabeth R. Koch, and others.

Likewise, Stand Together Foundation helped local nonprofits continue to provide vital services to communities through a GoFundMe campaign called Help The Helpers. In less than two days, #HelpTheHelpers raised $2.5 million, and within 24 hours, #HelpTheHelpers became one of the most successful COVID-19 related fundraising campaigns on this popular virtual platform. Stand Together Foundation is matching those funds, bringing the total to over $5.8 million.

Recently, Stand Together co-founded the SkillUp Together Fund, a $30 million initiative to cover the cost of training, equipment, or special support services needed by up to 30,000 workers displaced by COVID-19. The fund received pioneer donations from the Charles Koch Foundation, the Irvine Foundation, and

Last year, the VELA Education Fund (@VELAEdFund), supported by the Charles Koch Institute and the Walton Family Foundation, announced the Meet the Moment grant program, a now $2.4 million fund to support families, educators and social entrepreneurs building and leading innovative initiatives to support continued student learning. The launch of the VELA Education Fund came as polls showed six in 10 parents with at least one child in K-12 were likely to pursue at-home learning options instead of sending back their children last fall

For more information about the COVID Commission Planning Group, please click here.

About Stand Together

Stand Together empowers people dedicated to helping others improve their lives. Our philanthropic community tackles some of the biggest challenges of our times, including reforming the nation’s criminal justice system, strengthening K-12 education, helping neighbors beat poverty and addiction, empowering everyone to find fulfilling work, and more. We can all make a greater difference by uniting, than we can by acting on our own. Learn more at Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Instagram, and YouTube.

Tweet this: “As we cast a hopeful eye to a safer future, we must also look back to better understand what worked and what did not, learning from the remarkable accomplishments of the past year as well as the tragic failures.” Brian Hooks, CEO of Stand Together