United Way Pandemic Relief Fund teams with BET

Grants lend support with rental assistance, food and health

OW Staff Writer | 6/25/2020, midnight

The latest round of grants through United Way of Greater Los Angeles’s Pandemic Relief Fund, totaling more than $1 million, will support five organizations that serve Los Angeles’s Black communities with rental assistance, food, health and student learning support: A New Way of Life; the Los Angeles Black Worker Center; Community Coalition; Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA-CAN); and the YWCA of Greater Los Angeles.

Funds were granted through United Way Worldwide, in partnership with Black Entertainment Television (BET). BET’s recent broadcast special “Saving Our Selves: A BET COVID-19 Relief Effort” raised funds and awareness to support Black communities affected by the pandemic. United Way of Greater Los Angeles, along with United Ways in Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Detroit, and New Orleans, together were selected to direct funds to benefit local nonprofits.

“The legacy of institutional racism can be seen in the disproportionate effect the interlocking crises of homelessness and COVID-19 have on our Black neighbors, and it is more important than ever to ensure the organizations who serve Black communities have the resources they need,” said Elise Buik, president and CEO of the United Way of Greater Los Angeles. “This investment in Los Angeles comes as United Way of Greater Los Angeles deepens the role of racial equity in our mission and in our grantmaking.”

"We appreciate the backing of BET and United Way to help us bring support to the Black community. COVID-19 has hit our community really hard,” said Susan Burton, founder and president of A New Way of Life. “We are thankful that, with this funding, we will be able to channel support into the Black community and ensure that folks receive meaningful relief that allows them to pay their bills."

“Our community has been deeply impacted by the pandemic, not only in terms of infections but in job losses and economic stress that is drastically threatening the ability for Black households to keep a roof over their heads and provide for their families,” said La Tonya Harris, co-executive director, LA Black Worker Center. “This funding gives us an opportunity to support Black participants enrolled in our employment readiness program that speaks to the current state of work in the age of COVID- 19, and to equip Black workers with best practices on how to navigate the job search process. Additionally, we are helping our community members with financial assistance who have been impacted by this crisis.”

“These COVID-19 invaluable financial resources will ensure an unwavering bridge between service providers and at-risk communities in South Los Angeles affected by this pandemic. Since a large part of the African-American, at-risk community population has little or no cushion to withstand an unexpected pandemic, we are facing a human crisis unlike any we have experienced and our social fabric and cohesion is under stress,” said Faye Washington, president/ CEO, YWCA Greater Los Angeles. “The reduction in income, lack of access to equitable health care, and disparities in food insecurities for people during this COVID-19 crisis, is devastating and has particularly impacted disenfranchised communities with little to no resources in Los Angeles. We are banding together as one community, one voice and we will see this through together as a nation.”

Since it was first announced in the week following lockdown orders, the Pandemic Relief Fund has raised more than $10 million. Thanks to individual, corporate and foundation partners uniting to support Los Angeles’s most vulnerable neighbors, United Way of Greater Los Angeles continues to identify key organizations meeting critical needs to support through this fund. Additional grants will be announced in the coming weeks.

Members of the public may donate at Pandemicrelief.unitedwayla.org to help those most vulnerable in this global coronavirus crisis.