Foundations Launch COVID-19 Fund for Low-Wage Workers

Foundations Launch COVID-19 Fund for Low-Wage Workers

The FordOpen SocietyJPBW.K. KelloggAnnie E. Casey, and Amalgamated foundations and Schmidt Futures have announced the launch of a fund dedicated to supporting low-wage workers, families, and communities devastated by the economic and health impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Launched with an initial commitment of $7.1 million, the Families and Workers Fund aims to raise $20 million to provide flexible funding to organizations working to prevent low-wage workers and families from falling further into poverty and to support policy and advocacy efforts aimed at their long-term economic recovery. To that end, the fund will facilitate direct cash grants and loans to individuals, with a focus on those who are most likely to be left out of the government's emergency policy response, while also providing grants to policy and advocacy organizations, worker groups, community nonprofits, and others working to advance and implement policies and business practices that support workers.

The fund's medium- and long-term goals include support for efforts aimed at informing recession planning and response and ensuring that federal, state, and local stimulus initiatives are evidence-based and designed with and for vulnerable workers and communities. In addition, the fund will leverage computer and data science to help optimize intervention outcomes for workers and communities and enhance the tech and data capacities of worker and community nonprofits.

"The COVID-19 global pandemic continues to alter all of our lives. Soaring unemployment claims topping seventeen million in just three weeks shows the exacerbated impact this crisis is having on low-income workers and their families," said Sarita Gupta, director of the Ford Foundation's Future of Work(ers) program. "Through this fund, we will address not only the immediate needs of workers and families during this crisis, but we will support long-term policy change that puts them at the center of the economic response."

"Low-wage workers stand at the forefront of this pandemic, reeling from the profound health and economic implications," said Ai-Jen Poo, co-founder and executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. "As we dedicate our resources to supporting vulnerable working families across the United States, flexible and fast funding is critical. The creation of this fund is an important act of leadership, toward resilience for workers facing unprecedented hardship."

(Photo credit: Amalgamated Foundation)