Catastrophic Disasters and Vulnerable Populations – Where can we have impact?

Holly Welch Stubbing, President and CEO

E4E Relief

E4E Relief: We’re in this together.

As we marked the 15th anniversary of the historically-significant Hurricane Katrina during this record setting year of hurricane and wildfire activity, I wanted to reflect on how climate change impacts our world, exposing already vulnerable populations to an increased risk each year. Recognizing the immense work corporations around the world put in to be responsive to unexpected hardships on their workforce, it’s important to examine the impact charitable relief grants may have during a crisis.

2020 is the sixth consecutive year in which 10 or more billion-dollar weather and climate disaster events have impacted the US, and the data is growing for how disasters exacerbate existing financial vulnerabilities. According to Aaron Bernstein, Director of Harvard T.H. Chan C-Change Center for Climate, Health and the Global Environment at the School of Public Health, wide-reaching impacts from climate change such as pollution and deforestation likely expose already vulnerable populations to additional risk for the spread of pandemics such as COVID-19 and to the devastating impacts of multiple catastrophic disasters.[3]

A national study conducted by Biostatistics researchers at Harvard School of Public Health on air pollution and COVID-19 mortality summarizes the linkages: “People with chronic health conditions, lower income and communities of color are disproportionately impacted by both COVID-19 and climate change, and pollution is at the heart of both problems.” [4]

In fact, disasters often force at-risk households to make choices that may have detrimental long-term effects, such as cutting health care expenses or withdrawing children from school. Given these vulnerabilities, employers are reviewing at-risk work populations and determining how best to support employees – their greatest asset – during these difficult moments. The size and frequency of these hardships and events facing employees across many income groups are being reviewed and addressed by the c-suite in almost every major corporation in the US.

As part of an overall business strategy in hiring, retaining, and supporting employees, E4E Relief partners with corporations to do more for their employees who are faced with unexpected needs rising from disasters like hurricanes and the pandemic. Understanding the complexity and multipronged needs for short term and recovery assistance, our hope is to make sure the rapid relief offered through meaningful corporate philanthropy investment in employee relief programs offsets additional negative events. Employee relief programs support those who may have a limited financial safety net and help them recover more quickly from an unexpected event.

According to a soon-to-be released E4E Relief Impact Study conducted with Canary these grants enable some people to return to work more quickly, and make employees feel supported by their employer – a key ingredient in fostering long-term engagement and loyalty. Join me on the November 5th webcast as we share the data with the ACCP community.


E4E Relief is a social enterprise that administers charitable employee relief programs on behalf of global corporations to provide a readiness plan and compassionate response to employees facing crisis. At E4E Relief, compassion is our currency. To learn more, visit


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