Man in mask holding groceries

Families and Workers Fund Raises Nearly $30 Million for Workers Hardest Hit by COVID-19: Press Release

December 16, 2020

NEW YORK — The Families and Workers Fund, a collaborative philanthropic effort designed to support and empower workers, families, and communities devastated by the health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19, is proud to announce a significant increase in new funding and grantmaking partners to advance its mission.

Launched in April amidst the first peak of the pandemic in the United States with an initial commitment of $7 million, the Families and Workers Fund now stands at nearly $30 million. The Fund was the first multi-donor pooled fund dedicated to the economic crisis caused by COVID-19, designed to tackle both the immediate need for cash assistance due to the US’s inadequate social safety net, and the long-term, structural change needed for workers and their families to experience an equitable recovery.

“This pandemic has been a wrecking ball in the lives of Americans already struggling,” said MacKenzie Scott, the latest grantmaking partner of the Families and Workers Fund in a Medium post announcing her support of the Fund. “Economic losses and health outcomes alike have been worse for women, for people of color, and for people living in poverty.”

To date, the Fund has focused largely on rapid response. By making grants to trusted, community and worker organizations including National Day Laborer Organizing Network and the Mission Asset Fund, it has helped to get cash relief to at least 15,000 vulnerable individuals and families who have been excluded or fallen through the cracks of our benefits system and social safety net, including many gig workers, immigrants, and young people of color who have been forced to choose between rent, groceries, and medication amidst the havoc of the pandemic. Our flexible and fast grantmaking helped to unlock another $115 million in funding that reached 200,000 extremely vulnerable families. 

Other grants to organizations including Caring Across Generations and Center for Law and Social Policy worked to ensure that no one should have to choose between their health and their paycheck, especially amidst a pandemic. This includes paving the way for an equitable and comprehensive rollout of the country’s first-ever federal paid sick days policy at the state and local levels, and helped make the case for expanded unemployment insurance. 

“The Families and Workers Fund has created a platform to support and elevate proven solutions that address the dangerous inequality of economic opportunity in the U.S.,” said Liz Diebold, Managing Director at the Skoll Foundation. “The pandemic shined a light on the human toll of our systemic failures, and we are honored to join a community of funders committed to working together and social innovators doing the hard work to generate lasting change and economic dignity for vulnerable workers. This is only the beginning, and we hope that many others will join the Fund and the larger effort to tackle the big challenges of building a stronger and more equitable economy that truly works for everyone.”  

The Fund is proud of its powerhouse and diverse set of grantmaking partners from corporate, tech, and private foundations, including most recently MacKenzie Scott and the Skoll Foundation, who join Ford Foundation, Amalgamated Foundation, Schmidt Futures, Open Society Foundations, JPB Foundation, Morgan Stanley, Luminate, MacFarlane Foundation, the Omidyar Network, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and others. 

While encouraged by these early wins and the diverse grantmakers who have come together to champion this Fund, the task ahead remains enormous. Over 300,000 people have died from the pandemic. Millions have lost their jobs, homes, and sunk deeper into poverty. Too many working people, especially the least powerful, have been forced to choose between their lives and their livelihoods. We must ensure that we build back a stronger and more equitable economy that creates opportunity and dignity for all.

The majority of the Families and Workers Fund’s grants support women and/or BIPOC-led organizations, and is proof positive that remarkable impacts are possible when diverse grantmakers and grantees come together to take on big challenges. At this inflection point, the character of our nation is being tested. To survive this pandemic and recover better, we must prioritize the needs and voices of working people and communities most impacted by this virus. This is the mission of the Families and Workers Fund, which will continue building on the lessons and momentum to date to invest in larger, longer-term efforts to reimagine an economy that works for all. The Fund welcomes new partners to design the next chapter of these efforts. Learn more about the Families and Workers Fund here.