Foundation Updates for Applicants, Grantees, and Partners - Gates Family Foundation

Updated October 30, 2020

Gates Family Foundation is committed to helping our staff and their families, our partners, and our community stay healthy by doing what we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19. To help mitigate the impact of this evolving public health crisis, we have implemented a number of precautionary policies that impact our staff, partners, and office guests. (Please see below for details.)

In addition, our staff is working closely with our board and partners in the philanthropic community to participate in coordinated, statewide response — while also working with trusted community partners to directly support immediate and longer-term community needs:

We will keep this page updated with developments. Below are our current office policies and operations, in support of social distancing.

  • Gates office: The Gates Family Foundation office has been closed since March 13. We have not set a date for reopening. Unfortunately, this means that our office is unavailable for partner meetings until further notice.
  • Gates staff contacts and meetings: Currently, Gates staff members are conducting all work remotely. Individual staff members are equipped to host virtual meetings via Zoom, and we encourage you to reach us by email or phone during this period. Our staff contact information is here. Messages left on our office numbers are being redirected to email, so please allow time for response.
  • Grant requests pending for December board meeting: The December Gates board meeting will be held virtually. As usual, Gates staff members will notify grant applicants of board decisions following the meeting.
  • Capital grants program: Like many foundations, Gates has adjusted our grantmaking priorities this year to free up funding for projects that meet immediate needs related to the COVID-19 public health and economic crises. Unfortunately, this means that our capital grants program overall will become more competitive this year, and we will not be able to commit to as many capital projects as we usually enjoy supporting. Currently our staff is reviewing capital grant applications from our September 15 deadline, in addition to a number of requests from our March 15 deadline, for presentation at our December board meeting. Our primary objective is to be responsive to the evolving and urgent needs of our communities.
  • Gates Fellowship applicants: Harvard University cancelled both sessions of its 2020 summer program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government due to the pandemic. Gates Fellows selected for the 2020 cohort have been invited to defer to 2021. We will review our plans for the 2021 fellowship application process at a later date, pending available spots.
  • Staff travel: Gates staff members have eliminated work-related travel. Site visits for grant application reviews are being held as virtual meetings, where possible. Discretionary personal travel is also being limited, and employees undertaking personal travel to areas with significant exposure to the virus may be asked to self-quarantine before returning to work.
  • Office mail and response time: While Gates staff is working from home, please realize that we will only be visiting the office periodically to gather mail and package deliveries. Office phones are being redirected to staff email. Please bear with us, and use staff email or mobile phone numbers for the quickest response.

We hope these precautionary measures will be helpful to our staff, partners, and community, and we will keep this page updated with any new developments. If you have feedback or questions, please email Carol Menard at