Accelerating Blue Meridian’s Emergency Response to COVID-19

May 21, 2020

Dear friends and colleagues,

 

As the country navigates the unique challenges of this moment, we continue to be deeply concerned about the economic consequences of the COVID-19 crisis––especially for those who were already struggling to make ends meet. We want to update you on how we are working to assist the vulnerable people and communities we serve.

In April, we shared the three mantras that are guiding us: act now, partner with others, and trust social sector leaders and community residents. Blue Meridian is working to meet the immediate needs of young people and families in poverty, while also building a strategic response for an equitable recovery in the long term. We remain committed to helping our current investees adjust and adapt their important work as they plan for a sustainable future.

To meet the urgency of this moment, we have mobilized quickly to pay out over $90 million in grants to organizations providing relief through two major avenues: direct cash assistance and increased access to public benefits.

 


 

Direct Cash Assistance

In times of crisis, the most financially insecure stand to suffer the most economically. According to the Federal Reserve, nearly 40% of Americans earning less than $40,000/year lost their jobs in March.

For the millions of now unemployed and under-employed Americans, there is simply no substitute for cash that can help them meet their most basic needs­––from food to housing to healthcare. Families across the country are facing no-win financial choices: to buy food or pay rent; to buy medicine or pay utilities.

To mitigate this devastation, Blue Meridian is supporting established organizations with a track record of providing cash assistance to the groups that have been particularly hard hit: GiveDirectly/Propel, National Domestic Workers Alliance, BET/United Way, One Fair Wage, Family Independence Initiative, and The Workers Lab. Additionally, The Justice and Mobility Fund – the collaboration we co-created with the Ford Foundation with support from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation – provided critical funding to the Center for Employment Opportunities’ Returning Citizen Stimulus itiative.

 


 

Access to Benefits

Right now, billions of dollars in federal aid are available to people who qualify for emergency relief. But there are many barriers that prevent eligible people from actually accessing these benefits. For instance, many people with limited or no income don’t have easy access to the internet or a mobile phone for electronic access and millions don’t file tax returns that are necessary to receive immediate federal relief and prove eligibility for other critical benefits.

In response, we are supporting organizations that are immediately addressing these barriers or advocating for policy changes that help overcome obstacles. These organizations include: Code for America, Benefits Data Trust, New America, United Way/211, and Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

 


 

Our Future Outlook

The pandemic has changed the reality of our work and that of our investees. The historical inequities long experienced by communities of color are being intensely exacerbated by the crisis, with statistics showing a disproportionate impact of the virus on African Americans, Latinos and other communities.

As we look ahead, we are focused on making sure that our resources go to preparing and planning for a more equitable future. We believe that organizations like our investees will be critical to achieving the kind of lasting recovery that creates more pathways for economic mobility for all in this country. For example, Waterford UPSTART is adapting by creating a summer version of its core online program to prepare four-year-olds for Kindergarten, and we have made an additional investment to help UPSTART scale to meet the growing need for continued learning for children.

We could not do this without the support and generosity of our Partners who have stepped up to provide additional funding and worked quickly with us to meet the urgent needs of our communities. As always, we welcome opportunities to collaborate with other philanthropists who are interested in joining us in these efforts.

These steps represent only the beginning of the work ahead, but I am hopeful that they will provide some immediate relief where it is most needed while paving the way for an equitable recovery.

We remain grateful for your engagement and partnership as we support our investees to continue their important work serving young people and families at this critical time.

 

Wishing you and your loved ones good health,

Nancy Roob, CEO, Blue Meridian Partners


 

Voices of Hope

National Domestic Workers Alliance

“COVID-19 has placed both the value and precarity of domestic work into sharp relief. We’re deeply grateful for the outpouring of support ensuring caregivers can cover their most essential needs: food, transportation, and supporting their children’s remote learning.”
— Ai-jen Poo, CEO of National Domestic Workers Alliance

 

“This has been a big break. I’ve gotten emotional support, not just financial support, from being checked-on by NDWA. I used the money to catch up on bills and get some groceries for my family.”
— Nanny and Mom of 3, Atlanta, GA

Center for Employment Opportunities

“We’re proud to be providing relief to thousands of people coming home from incarceration. We created this program to assist those historically overlooked and underserved during a crisis and who already face barriers to employment and disrupted social connections.”
— Sam Schaeffer, Executive Director and CEO of CEO

 

“It was a blessing. It made me cry. I cried. I put $700 for the good. I paid rent and bought groceries. It really helped so much. I have grown so much with the CEO project. CEO has really motivated me. Thank you.”
— Male, CEO Stimulus Recipient, Cleveland, OH

Family Independence Initiative (FII)

“We launched #GiveTogetherNow to get unrestricted cash in people’s hands right now, so they can take care of their immediate needs. At the same time, we understand cash investments are just a start for long-term economic mobility.”
— Jesús Gerena, CEO of FII

 

“After returning home from my 3-week hospital stay from contracting COVID, I found myself in deep debt. I had lost my main source of income during that time. Since I received the funds, I have been able to pay on a couple of essential bills and begin to gain some stability back into my life.”
— Female, FII recipient, Roxbury MA

Code for America

“GetYourRefund helps taxpayers claim EITC benefits and register for economic impact payments—creating an opportunity for millions of Americans to access more flexible cash in a heightened time of need.”
— Lou Moore, CTO of Code for America

 

“Just want to say THANK YOU…This is my first time filing my taxes on my own, and I had no idea what I was doing. Additionally, as someone who is unemployed due to COVID-19, this is a huge relief for me.”
— GetYourRefund Tax Filer

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