Philanthropic Pivoting: How Companies Can Meet Community Needs in Times of Crisis
November 17, 2020
During the coronavirus pandemic, philanthropists have found creative ways to meet the urgent needs of their communities. With most communities facing every issue at once, institutions are being more flexible and creative in serving community need.
Tayanna Teel Osorio, a principal community relations associate at Capital One Bank, has seen firsthand how the unfortunate circumstances of the pandemic also presents novel opportunities to support to community organizations.
“COVID-19 has presented a very interesting opportunity for philanthropy to first provide more direct support to communities in need, but also an opportunity to support innovation,” she says. “Most of our communities are experiencing every issue at once, and it’s important that our institutions are flexible and respond to their real-life needs.”
After growing up in New Jersey and South Carolina, Tayanna decided to join Teach For America in the Jacksonville region as a middle school teacher. She wanted to serve students who deserved, but had not received, the best the education system had to offer.
“Teaching middle school students will probably always be the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” she says. “But it taught me that you have to do the work every single day. I also learned that the problems my students were facing were greater than I understood, and my experience in the classroom really made me grow up and be much more critical of the world around me.”
Teaching also helped hone Tayanna’s perspective on how to impact the community through hard work and seeking understanding to create effective, innovative solutions—which is more important now than ever.
“So many New Orleanians are in jobs that are especially vulnerable to layoffs during disasters. We have a great opportunity to invest a lot of money into workforce development for industries that can move families into higher wage jobs.”
In addition to continuing to lead Capital One Bank’s nonprofit sector support through the critical work of several community partners, Tayanna is motivated by forming creative solutions to pre-existing inequities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Specifically, mass unemployment is a pervasive issue in the New Orleans community that Capital One is addressing.
"So many New Orleanians are in jobs that are especially vulnerable to layoffs during disasters,” Tayanna says. “We have a great opportunity to invest a lot of money into workforce development for industries that can move families into higher wage jobs.”
The agility and ingenuity that Tayanna and the Capital One Bank Community Affairs team has demonstrated to address community need over the past six months embodies important lessons she has learned through her career in teaching and philanthropy.
“I have learned that it is important to complicate your understanding in order to really seek solutions,” she says. “This pandemic has been a lesson in truly evaluating what you are doing and whether it’s working—±and if it isn’t, it’s okay to try something different.”