The River Fund New York is recognized as an organization that is always coming up with innovative ways to fight hunger, homelessness and poverty in dozens of city neighborhoods. In fact, we became the national pioneer in getting federal support for the Mobile Food Pantry concept. It’s an achievement that has benefited many communities across the country, and made a huge difference in the manner in which the aftermath of Sandy was addressed. We have always been known for our data-driven approach to developing new programs to meet the needs of our clientbase. We created our own empowerment tracking system that maintains bullet-proof confidentially of our client’s data, while simultaneously allowing us to manage their advancement beyond the lines of poverty.
Our pioneering approach to poverty-resistance has won us numerous awards for the quality and impact of our service in dozens of New York City communities.
Beyond hunger relief, The River Fund provides nutritional education, income support and benefits enrollment services. This includes one-stop prescreening for more than 40 social-service benefits, which saves people the expense and frustration of visiting dozens of government offices just to see if they qualify for a benefit. After completing their prescreening, our Benefits Access Center can actually help those who qualify enroll in many of those benefits. We have our own private electronic portal into the city’s government-run paperless document management network, which allows us to enroll people directly into the Food Stamp program (formally called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), Medicare, Medicaid, and up to 44 different benefits and services.
Some of our activities include: Providing free mobile phones to needy households; free annual school supplies including backpacks; free shoes for kids; free podiatric care for seniors including free orthopedic shoes; free winter-wear including coats, hats, scarves, gloves, etc; free sleep-sway summer camps for children, and many other programs.
The River Fund serves some 160,000 beneficiaries per year, 40% of whom are children; we offer organically grown children’s vitamins every month, and we’re one of only 10 sites in New York hosting “Community CookShop”—an 8-week program for parents and children funded by the Mario Batali Foundation, where kids learn to assess food-value and prepare healthy meals for themselves.
In summer, apart from offering free vacations, we get at-risk 13- to 18-year-olds off the streets by enrolling them in the teams of our 18-team basketball tournament hosted by our own River Fund Cobras. Of course, The River Fund’s Xmas-Gift-Giving events, which distributed 20,000 toys last year, and our Easter-Basket-Giveaway are very popular family occasions.
In 2013, The River Fund launched America’s very first “Child Poverty Awareness Day” on the second Sunday in August: an event designed to be an annual program when businesses pay attention to the plight of needy children in their respective communities while focusing public attention on the fact that children are by far the largest demographic in the country facing poverty—and the least able to confront it.
Being largely volunteer-based, and operating from a tiny 2,500 sqft. facility, The River Fund knows how to do more with less. Our free tax-prep service repatriates more than half-a-million dollars annually into the community that would otherwise go unclaimed from the IRS. As the leading multi-pronged benefits enrollment agency in Queens, we have become a primary partner in the borough for programs sponsored by Federal, State and City entities that need strong, community-based organizations to advance poverty-reduction objectives in more than 40 zipcodes.
Although we are not a disaster-relief organization, we were the VERY FIRST emergency food program to arrive in the city’s flood zones behind Superstorm Sandy in October 2012. We served 323 tons of product to 87,000 people in two months. After the initial relief effort, we created five ongoing Satellite Sites in the stricken areas and kept providing food through them to poor families and seniors: an average of 28,000 people per month. Given all of this work, we were awarded a federal grant of $534,000 to continue our endeavors in the Sandy zones.
The Robin Hood Foundation and the American Securities Foundation both vetted The River Fund New York for grants in 2012, and now both donors regard the organization as a star performer in their respective programs.
While The River Fund team appreciates the recognition and accolades that come from our accomplishments, these things are not the source of our motivation. Our team is made up of “community members who are determined against all odds to care for other community members”—and our motivation comes from a deep-seated awareness of what we’re up against: Fighting poverty is a war. Each person facing poverty is engaged in a battle. Every household we feed and empower in their battle against poverty becomes another building block that strengthens our communities. And strong communities have a better chance of winning this war: Together we make a difference!
We're Proud of Our Culture
The Mission of The River Fund New York is "to feed and empower those we serve to move beyond the lines of poverty." READ MORE.
We believe in "making a difference"—together. So, we help companies that want to give back to the local community find impacts that actually matter AND utilize their core skills at the same time. Here, the local Sephora team gives makeovers to our clients. READ MORE.
In Summer 2012, The River Fund was invited to join the Robin Hood family of grantees. This allowed us to expand our capacity dramatically and serve many more people in a wider variety of ways as we transitioned from being a volunteer-only organization to one with employees.
Beyond partnering with program-developers to provide the "direct-service channel" to clients, we augment their programs to ensure they achieve maximum impact. That's why we we're recognized as the "model site" of the citywide Community CookShop program. READ MORE.
Back in the mid-1990s we understood that fixed pantries were not always feasible in many areas where needy populations live. So, we came up with the Mobile Pantry System. After two decades of doing this, we were federally recognized for that pioneering effort.
When America's leading supplement manufacturer asked Feed-the-Children, a national hunger-relief charity based in Oklahoma, to identify a suitable launch partner in New York for their new pantry product, The River Fund was picked. READ MORE.