Emergency Fund Covid-19

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation created a 5 million Euros Emergency Fund to support five areas: Health, Science, Civil Society, Education and Culture


Considering the current pandemic declared by the World Health Organisation and the state of emergency implemented in Portugal on account of Covid-19, the Board of Trustees of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation has approved an emergency fund with an initial amount of 5 million euros, which aims to contribute towards strengthening the resilience of society across the statutory fields of intervention of the Foundation.

This Fund is open to contributions from other donors. 

“In a period of exceptional gravity, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, in honouring its mission, is strengthening its activities as a contribution to combat the pandemic that jeopardises the continuity of society as we known it”, stated Isabel Mota, President of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

The support spans five areas: Health, Science, Civil Society, Education and Culture.


  • This strengthens the first line of defence in combating the virus, helping to overcome shortages in protective material and medical equipment.
  • Support for detection and diagnosis actively fostering the identification of cases taking into account the implementation of the contention strategy and preparing for a return of social life.
  • Support for technology based solutions with swift implementation timeframes, platforms and apps able to accompany and support the population, specifically helping in dealing with isolation, distributing reliable information and the appropriate management of symptoms of disease.


  • Boosting the financing for the IGC – the Gulbenkian Institute of Science taking into account its technological platforms and scientific competences across the fields of immunology, genomics, virology and microbe-host relationships designed to raise scientific knowledge on 2019-nCoV/Covid-19, thereby in order to:
    • Identify the factors of risk in more vulnerable individuals as well as the mechanisms and means to protect them;
    • Better understand the immune system response to the virus and the mechanisms for boosting this, which may potentially lead to better management of the disease and accelerate the production of a vaccine;
    • The identification of possible vulnerabilities in this virus, particularly in its interactions with human beings, leading to new treatment strategies and better forecasts of the evolution of the propagation of this disease over space and time.

    This initiative is open and coordinated with other research institutions and structures in Portugal and internationally.

  • The IGC, in conjunction with other Institutions in the Lisbon area, is developing new diagnosis methods for mass production and deployment in keeping with how diagnosis is the most effective tool we currently have against Covid-19. 

Civil Society

  • Launching the Gulbenkian Care project designed for Civil Society organisations that provide support to the elderly, one of the most at risk groups, in partnership with the Ministry of Employment, Solidarity and Social Security.
    This seeks to strengthen the response capacity of these organisations within this population group, especially in terms of domestic care services, the provision of care and services to more isolated persons with a view to their wellbeing and meeting their basic needs. 
  • Temporary support for the sustainability of Civil Society Organisations with their projects currently financed by the Foundation to enable them to retain their most precarious staff during this period of crisis and continue their activities in support of the communities they act in.
  • Greater flexibility over beneficiary entities, in all areas, as regards planning projects and obtaining results, ensuring due payment on the dates agreed or pre-empting them whenever so justified. 


  • Support for students in need to enable them to access remote teaching provision during the closure of schools.The project is under development in partnership with the Ministry of Education and plans to provide support through digital means and connections for students facing economic hardship who otherwise lack home Internet access to online content and classes.
  • Strengthening the Bolsas Mais scholarship program reaching students lacking in financial resources and applying to university for the first time with an average university entrance grade of over 18/20.


  • As regards the cultural and artistic sector, emergency support to artists or artistic production entities that have seen their projects cancelled or in areas to which the Foundation commonly attributes support in the form of the partial subsidy of lost earnings and contributing towards meeting living costs.
  • Maintaining and rendering more flexibility to supports either already granted or undergoing approval, including their redefinition and rescheduling, so as to guarantee the survival of the productive structures most affected.
Updated on 01 june 2020

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