At the pandemic’s outset in the spring of 2020, Blue Meridian became acutely aware that COVID-19 was causing immense, disproportionate harm to the most vulnerable people in the US. As part of our immediate response, we committed more than $150 million for COVID-19 emergency relief to help low-income people—those at the greatest risk of falling through the cracks—receive direct cash transfers and access to public benefits for which they were already eligible.
Beyond the emergency relief funding, we dedicated ourselves to supporting our existing investees in other portfolios, helping them weather the crisis and, when ready, accelerate their work to meet the growing need that emerged from the pandemic. Additionally, we have adapted our investment approach to ensure recovery takes hold in marginalized communities that suffer disproportionately due to historic and systemic inequities.
Ultimately, we hope our efforts responded to immediate needs in 2020. Looking ahead, we will continue to support an ongoing and equitable recovery––one that boosts economic mobility for young people and families trapped in poverty.
Funding for Blue Meridian’s COVID-19 emergency relief was contributed by all our General Partners and Impact Partners.
Additional support was provided by The David Tepper Family Foundation, The Druckenmiller Foundation, The Duke Endowment, George Kaiser Family Foundation, The JPB Foundation, MacKenzie Scott, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, and others.
Emergency Relief Investments
We supported social sector organizations that provide direct cash assistance to especially vulnerable individuals and families who need immediate financial assistance and cannot access public benefits quickly enough. We also funded efforts to help millions more low-income people access billions of dollars in public aid for which they were eligible.
To date, we have made initial investments in the following set of organizations:
UpTogether trusts and invests directly in low-income people so they can work individually and collectively to achieve prosperity. By using their technology platform, people experiencing poverty can build and exchange social capital and access unrestricted cash transfers to help them accomplish goals on their own self-determined paths. In the wake of COVID-19, UpTogether is expanding to new cities to provide cash transfers and support to families in need.Visit Website
GiveDirectly is the leading global NGO specialized in delivering digital cash transfers. In response to COVID-19, GiveDirectly has partnered with Propel to identify vulnerable U.S. households on SNAP and deliver direct cash assistance.Visit Website
National Domestic Workers Alliance
National Domestic Workers Alliance organizes to improve the lives and work conditions for home care workers, nannies and house cleaners. Its Coronavirus Care Fund provides direct cash for emergency assistance to its members who are experiencing financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic.Visit Website
One Fair Wage
One Fair Wage is providing cash assistance to restaurant workers, car service drivers, delivery workers, personal service workers and more who are no longer able to work due to the COVID-19 crisis and need these dollars to survive.Visit Website
The Workers Lab
The Workers Lab is providing direct cash assistance to gig and contract workers who do not have access to employer-based benefits in the wake of the current pandemic. It leverages Canary, a project incubated by The Workers Lab, for getting cash to verified applicants quickly.Visit Website
BET/ United Way
A partnership between BET and United Way will provide critical financial, educational, and community support directly to African Americans affected by COVID-19. In addition to a broadcast special and town halls, their joint relief fund will disburse resources to community-based organizations in an initial set of cities most impacted by the crisis: New York City, Atlanta, New Orleans, Detroit, and Chicago.Visit Website
Code for America
Code for America uses digital technology to bridge the gap between government and American citizens by improving access to resources to impact social change. The GetYourRefund.org initiative will expand its capacity to help millions of low-income people access federal stimulus funds and Earned Income Tax Credit benefits for which they are eligible.Visit Website
Benefits Data Trust
Benefits Data Trust provides comprehensive application assistance to eligible individuals to help them gain financial stability. Given the increasing needs for public assistance due to the economic losses from the crisis, Benefits Data Trust will expand capacity to connect more households to benefits in Colorado, Maryland North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina, unlocking millions in public aid.Visit Website
To support those in need during the COVID-19 crisis, New America is performing rapid research and data analysis to advance policies that improve benefits access for vulnerable people, as well as support for a short-term federal and state advocacy effort.Visit Website
211 is a free, confidential referral and information helpline and website that connects people to essential health and human services. As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Way/211 partnership will expand 211’s capacity to manage increased call volume and leverage other United Way assets to assist up to two million low-income households to apply for or access federal stimulus funds.Visit Website
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
In response to COVID-19, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities will engage the marketing and communications firm, GMMB, to support state agencies with resources to reach potentially millions of low-income Americans with critical information on how to access Economic Impact Payments and other benefits.Visit Website
Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO): Returning Citizen Stimulus
The Justice and Mobility Fund is supporting CEO’s Returning Citizen Stimulus initiative, which uses CEO’s paycard platform to provide individuals coming home from prison or jail with immediate direct cash and a gateway to re-entry services in 27 cities across the country.Visit Website
Mission Asset Fund
Mission Asset Fund is an established provider of financial education and loans for low-income families. Their Immigrant Families Fund targets vulnerable populations experiencing financial hardship that are unlikely to receive Economic Impact Payments, including the 6 million immigrants working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis by providing them with direct cash transfers.Visit Website
Hispanics in Philanthropy: Essential Workers’ Fund and Farmworkers’ Relief Fund
Hispanics in Philanthropy is a leading grant maker focused on the needs of Hispanic and Latinx communities. Their partnership with Justice for Migrant Women launched the Essential Fund – targeting Latinx essential workers during the crisis and their families and the Farmworkers’ Relief Fund, specifically serving farmworkers, improving their access to benefits and providing direct cash relief.Visit Website
Native American Community Response Fund
The Native American Community Response Fund serves Native Americans living on the Navajo Nation and in 13 metropolitan areas where over 70% of Native Americans live by distributing direct cash assistance.Visit Website
Prosperity Now targets Native American and rural communities among other vulnerable populations, and areas with high unemployment populations. Prosperity Now provides access to free tax preparation services and support to receive the Economic Impact Payments and Earned Income Tax Credit benefits they are eligible for.Visit Website
National Employment Law Project
National Employment Law Project (NELP) provides intensive technical assistance to about 15 state unemployment insurance delivery systems and partners with advocacy groups on state-wide campaigns to expand eligibility. NELP will launch a national outreach effort, mobilizing a network of more than 300 grassroots workers’ centers, to educate people about their unemployment insurance eligibility and encourage them to apply.Visit Website
No Kid Hungry
No Kid Hungry is a national campaign run by nonprofit Share Our Strength to end childhood hunger in the US. In support of kids and families in need of healthy meals during the COVID-19 crisis, No Kid Hungry is advocating for the expansion of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) as well as assisting communities with program implementation and educating eligible families about how to access free meals.Visit Website
The Education Trust
The Education Trust is organizing the education sector to help advance its work to expand Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) for children ages 0 to 4 and extend the program through the next school year.Visit Website
Food Research & Action Center
The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) works to eradicate poverty-related hunger and undernutrition in the United States. In response to COVID-19, FRAC is leveraging its network of national, state, and local partners to facilitate the nationwide adoption and implementation of Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) and advocate for the program’s extension.Visit Website
Working America is performing research and conducting outreach among Black workers to address the long-standing problem of eligible Black workers not accessing unemployment insurance benefits and to meet the increased need for access to these benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic.Visit Website
Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation
Georgetown University’s Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation works as an orchestrating broker across sectors to increase the probability of scaled positive impact that advances a shared vision of prosperity for all. In response to COVID-19, the Beeck Center’s Digital Service Collaborative is launching an initiative to transform the safety net system by scaling technology tools and sharing best practices and innovations across states, which will make it easier for millions of Americans to access and receive public benefits.Visit Website