REFORM Alliance, a criminal justice reform initiative based in New York, and the office of San Francisco mayor London Breed have announced contributions totaling $25 million from Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey.
The contributions include $15 million from Dorsey to the Give2SF COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, which provides assistance to undocumented, mixed-status, and low-income households in San Francisco, with $5 million to be allocated to each of three priority areas — food security, housing access, and efforts in support of workers and small businesses. The funds are expected to provide five thousand households over three months with grocery gift cards, home-delivered meals, and other food assistance and more than twelve hundred households with up to $3,000 toward rent and utilities, financial relief for immigrant workers, and no-interest loans for small businesses through the San Francisco Hardship Emergency Loan Program.
"COVID-19 affects us all, but disproportionately affects those who were already in need," said Dorsey. "It's important to acknowledge this fact and provide more support to those who are struggling. Food and shelter to weather this crisis is critical, and I want to thank the mayor and City of San Francisco for ensuring these funds will help people directly and immediately."
With the goal of ensuring that the incarcerated population, correctional officers, healthcare workers, and personnel working in state, federal, and private facilities are protected from COVID-19 exposure, REFORM Alliance will use a $10 million gift from Dorsey to purchase and deliver more than ten million masks to every prison and jail facility in the United States and will work with individual states to identify specific personal protective equipment (PPE) needs and allocate resources accordingly.
Launched in 2019 to advocate for changes in state probation and parole laws, REFORM Alliance has released a PSA video highlighting how COVID-19 is spreading unchecked through prisons and threatening to turn prison sentences into death sentences for the 2.3 million Americans behind bars. According to the organization, eight of the top ten COVID-19 hotspots in the U.S. are linked to prisons and jails. The worst outbreak is at Marion Correctional Institution in Marion, Ohio, where nearly twenty-two hundred inmates — more than 80 percent of the prison's population — have been infected. Nationwide, more than five thousand correctional officers have tested positive for COVID-19.
"I'm grateful REFORM exists," said Dorsey. "The criminal justice system needs to change. COVID-19 adds to the injustices, and REFORM is best suited to help." In April, Dorsey pledged $1 billion of his equity in Square, the mobile payments company he co-founded in 2010, to charity and established the #startsmall initiative, which has committed more than $39.6 million in support of global COVID-19 relief efforts, not including the $10 million commitment to REFORM.
"This generous donation from Jack and #startsmall is an absolute game-changer," said REFORM Alliance CEO Van Jones. "Not only will this gift help us protect millions from the threat of COVID-19, but this level of support from a tech titan marks a turning point for the criminal justice reform movement. It's truly an honor to call Jack an ally in this fight, be able to provide masks to every prison in America, and potentially save tens of thousands of lives."
(Photo credit: REFORM Alliance)