Today marks exactly one year since the Bay Area became the first region in the country to issue Shelter-in-Place orders to control the spread of a virus whose name we had just gotten used to saying. Many of us remember scenes from last March so vividly: the Grand Princess cruise ship docking at the Port of Oakland, our last commutes to the office, and rising fears that this virus will take a disproportionate toll on the elderly, communities of color, and our essential workers.
As a community foundation, we knew that the pandemic’s consequences would be devastating for the thousands of nonprofits that we support and the millions of residents that they serve. We made calls, we listened, and on March 18, we launched our COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund. Nearly 300 donors joined us in this effort, allowing us to make nearly $5 million in grants to roughly 400 nonprofits that have supported workers of color with low incomes, residents without secure homes or enough food to eat, and Asian Americans being attacked in the wake of the virus’ spread.
Our research partner, the Bay Area Equity Atlas, has revealed exactly who has been hit hardest by the pandemic, right down to the zip code. They show that Latinx neighborhoods have disproportionately high rates of infection. An unimaginable 85 percent of California’s Black workforce has filed for unemployment during the pandemic. Additionally, one of our grantees, Chinese for Affirmative Action, last spring helped launch Stop AAPI Hate, which has tracked the disturbing uptick in harassment and hate crimes against Asian Americans.
The truth is that it has taken more than a global pandemic, but also a global call for racial justice to force this country to really examine itself in the mirror. We now have an opportunity to not just recover what we had a year ago, but to reimagine a Bay Area that includes people who have historically been left out far before COVID. To that end, we hope you’ll join us in supporting the following efforts that are making this a reality through long-lasting, systemic change right here in the Bay Area:
- The SFF COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, which gives rapid response grants to Bay Area community organizations working on safety net issues and building power in local communities for an equitable recovery.
- The African American Small Business Revolving Loan Fund, which supports Black-owned businesses in San Francisco that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. SFF’s recent investment was made possible by one of our donors, Aneel Bhusri, the CEO of Workday.
- The California Black Freedom Fund, which aims to provide $100 million in support to Black-led power-building organizations in California over the next five years.
- The Asian American community organizations that are responding to violence against Asian Americans and building cross-racial solidarity between Black and Asian American communities in the Bay Area.