Respect Poverty

Black Lives Matter announces new Survival Fund amidst the wait for COVID-19 relief

Black Lives Matter protesters in Los Angeles on August 28, 2020. Mario Tama/Getty Images

Story at a glance

  • Numerous studies have shown that Black Americans have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Many families are still experiencing a significant financial struggle and awaiting additional relief.
  • The Black Lives Global Network Foundation is finding ways to help, through the expansion of its Survival Fund.

In January 2021, President Biden shared the details of his proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, with many features specifically designed to help the jobless. With unemployment benefits currently set to expire on March 14, the pressure is now on to get a bill passed, which Biden has said would extend those benefits through the end of September. 

In the meantime, Americans across the country are still trying to make ends meet, especially communities of color, which have been disproportionately hit by the pandemic. Because of this, the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation has just announced Thursday morning the expansion of a $3 million financial relief fund that it quietly launched earlier this month, to help people struggling to make ends meet during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

Dedicated to the cause

The foundation first grew out of the Black Lives Matter movement nearly eight years ago and has since grown into a network of chapters in numerous cities, dedicated to organizing and continuing activist activities for the Black Lives Matter cause. Last year Black Lives Matter’s reach grew exponentially, with the foundation reporting that it raised more than $90 million in 2020 alone. In the same report it shared that about a quarter of the money raised, nearly three times the industry norm, was given to Black Lives Matter chapters and local organizations.

Thursday, the foundation announced plans to make up to 3,000 more microgrants of $1,000 available to people who it believes need the money most. According to the foundation’s website, it had previously met its goal of providing direct support to nearly 3,000 Black people, and that the “enormous response has highlighted how severe the economic crisis still is for millions of Black people across the country, and how much more needs to be done.”

“Since the beginning of this pandemic, the government has not done enough to support Black people, leaving too many of us in survival mode. Before COVID-19, there was already a racial-wealth gap, and this pandemic has exacerbated it,” the Survival Fund’s website reads.

Those approved for the new microgrants will see the money deposited directly into their bank account or made available on prepaid debit cards. They will be able to use the money any way they choose, with no questions asked. 

Helping those who need it most

“This came from a collective conversation with BLM leadership that Black folks are being hurt the most financially during the pandemic,” Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors told The Associated Press. “I believe that when you have resources, to hoard them is a disservice to the people who deserve them.”

Cullors also shared that the first recipients of the Survival Fund have included families of people killed by police or who died while incarcerated, grassroots community organizers, people who identify as transgender, single parents and formerly incarcerated individuals. 

One Survival Fund recipient, Kusema Thomas, shared with the Associated Press he has been earning $1,500 less in monthly income due to his hours being cut back following the onset of the pandemic. 

The 45-year-old Los Angeles resident and father of 11-year-old and 4-year-old sons had been working as a community organizer and mental health specialist at a shelter for youth victims of domestic violence. Thomas, who was also formerly incarcerated, added that seeing the grant show up in his bank account reminded him of the value of communities collectively pooling resources to bring relief and aid to their own.

“It reinforces some of the things that have just been natural to us as a community,” Thomas told the AP. “It’s a point of pride, that’s connected to our history of being able to support each other. It’s how we show love.”

Thomas said he is using the money to teach his sons how to begin saving, something that he wasn’t taught as a child.

To receive updates on the fund and to be notified if applications open again, text NEWS to 24365 or sign up using your email on their website.