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Statement by Dr. Rajiv J. Shah on the 20th Anniversary of 9/11

Twenty years ago, the world—and The Rockefeller Foundation’s hometown, New York City—were transformed forever.

From 8:46 a.m. on September 11, 2001, when the first plane hit the World Trade Center’s North Tower, to 10:28 a.m. when that tower fell, people at the Foundation’s headquarters gathered at the windows, watching in horror, and worrying about friends and family downtown. Many were traumatized by the attack on the nation as well as the values—equity, justice, and opportunity—our Foundation embodies.

9/11’s legacy is bigger than what transpired in those 102 minutes. Such incredible adversity could have driven everyone apart. Instead, people and institutions—including the Foundation and our team—came together in the hours, weeks, months, and years after that morning. As a result, any true measure of 9/11’s impact must weigh the new initiatives, partnerships, and innovations that have developed over the last 20 years.

In the weeks and months after 9/11, the Foundation sought to meet the moment. Dozens of the Foundation’s team collected supplies for rescue volunteers in New York. We provided $5 million in initial grants that sought to improve the lives and livelihoods of the poor and excluded. One set of grants helped the families of low-paid workers who had lost their lives or been injured or displaced in the attack. Other grants went to organizations helping South Asian, Arab, and Muslim communities suffering from backlash because of their background or religion.

That commitment remained in the decades after the attack. We’ve supported initiatives and grantees that promote the City’s resilience, preserve the memories of 9/11, and support equity and opportunity for all New Yorkers. Today, the Foundation is revitalizing our headquarters in the heart of Manhattan – a recommitment to the city and our role as neighbor. In all, over the last two decades, the Foundation has helped transform lives and communities, providing a further reminder of New York City’s, and America’s, resilience.

Twenty years later, as 9/11’s legacy continues, our work in the city of New York and commitment to our values continue as well. As much as the world has changed over the last two decades, the Foundation is as committed as ever to promoting the well-being of humanity and to bringing it together.