Jun 30, 2020 · 4 min read

CZI’s Justice and Opportunity Initiative Provides $2.6 Million to Support Organizations Working to Help Communities Disproportionately Affected by COVID-19

April 8, 2020 | Messages are displayed on a boarded up diner closed due to COVID-19 in Miami, Florida. | Photograph by Marco Bello/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Since April 2020, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, through its Justice and Opportunity Initiative, has provided $2.64 million to grassroots organizations providing support and direct services in communities most vulnerable to COVID-19 spread and economic disruption. The awards were provided to 74 organizations who are current grantees of CZI’s Justice and Opportunity Initiative.

“COVID-19 related disruptions have been especially disruptive for smaller organizations working in communities that long before the pandemic were facing immense economic distress,” said Regina Schwartz, CZI’s Director of Movement Capacity Building.  “In addition to grant dollar support, many grantees requested support from CZI to build their technological infrastructure and pivot their model to online communication and remote work during this trying time.”

We have been able to assist in providing resources for safe housing, referrals to skilled nursing facilities, hygiene kits, access to computers to apply for benefits, assistance and jobs, and much more

Grantees across the U.S. have had flexibility to use the grant dollars to quickly adapt and respond to changing operational constraints and expanding needs in their respective communities. For example, the West Virginia Council of Churches (WVCC)  worked with re-entry councils and other community partners across the state to quickly assess needs and how best to support individuals who received emergency releases from prisons and jails.

“We have been able to assist in providing resources for safe housing, referrals to skilled nursing facilities, hygiene kits, access to computers to apply for benefits, assistance and jobs, and much more,” said Beverly Sharp, WVCC’s Director of Reentry Initiatives.

In California, Healthy LA, a network of Los Angeles advocacy organizations, worker centers, labor unions, service providers, religious congregations, community groups, affordable housing developers, public interest lawyers, public health and safety organizations mobilized rapidly to advocate for solutions to hardships caused by the COVID-19.

And in Florida, the Family Action Network Movement (FANM), an organization with the mission of empowering Haitian women and their families, rapidly shifted its engagement, organizing, and in-person case management work online.

“FANM has been deluged with calls from families who are hurting; 90 percent of our constituencies are low- to-moderate income, representing some of the most COVID-19 impacted,” said Marleine Bastien, Executive Director of FANM, adding that many in the Miami-Dade, Broward and Orlando communities the organization serves were “sent home to fend for themselves with no paychecks,” as stay-at-home orders took effect in Florida. FANM has responded by helping community members file for unemployment benefits and other relief.

Beyond grant dollars, CZI is also providing ongoing training on a variety of topics to help organizations pivot their work and scale change faster in the abrupt shift to remote work. Since April, more than 3500 registrants from more than 600 unique organizations have participated in these ongoing virtual sessions, in which expert external trainers provide advice on how to best approach challenges including remote team management, digital organizing and engagement, and board engagement. Virtual training sessions offered can be found here.

In addition to the above, in April, CZI committed $1.5 million to the California Immigrant Resilience Fund, a fund set up to provide immediate direct relief to undocumented families in response to COVID-19 and also to support the long-term well-being and resilience of California immigrant communities. The fund is part of a public-private partnership with the state of California; Governor Gavin Newsom announced a separate $75 million state-financed immigrant relief fund.

For more information about how CZI and our grant partners are responding to COVID-19, visit https://chanzuckerberg.com/covid-19/.


About the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Founded by Dr. Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg in 2015, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) is a new kind of philanthropy that’s leveraging technology to help solve some of the world’s toughest challenges — from eradicating disease, to improving education, to reforming the criminal justice system. Across three core Initiative focus areas of Science, Education, and Justice & Opportunity, we’re pairing engineering with grant-making, impact investing, and policy and advocacy work to help build an inclusive, just and healthy future for everyone. For more information, please visit chanzuckerberg.com.

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