Major Investment from the #StartSmall Initiative for Covid-19 Relief in Fruitvale – The Unity Council

Major Investment from the #StartSmall Initiative for Covid-19 Relief in Fruitvale

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The Unity Council is thrilled to announce a $2 Million investment in our COVID-19 response and recovery efforts from Jack Dorsey’s #StartSmall initiative!

This gift is a transformational investment in our capacity. We are humbled by Jack Dorsey’s generosity, his bold commitment to give away ~28% of his wealth publicly, transparently, and quickly (and his invitation to other billionaires to do the same), and grateful to him not only for the investment, but for the visibility that this brings to our work. 

This generous donation will support various programs: from food security, to small business recovery, to anti-displacement housing programs, and to expanding our capacity as an organization to meet the heightened level of need felt by our community. Here are a couple of highlights:

  • Emergency Cash Assistance: At least $500,000 of this gift will go to our emergency cash assistance program, which has to date supported close to 500 families with checks of $500. Often these families have received no other CARES act stimulus support due to immigration status. With this gift, we are able to provide cash assistance to 1,000 more families who are in dire economic need.
  • Small Business Recovery & Resiliency: We work with 350 small businesses in Fruitvale’s bustling and diverse business district. The vast majority of entrepreneurs and merchants are small, family-owned businesses that are struggling under the stay-home order. Small businesses like the ones we work with are the soul and character of the neighborhood, and we are working tirelessly to help them succeed, and stay in our neighborhood. We offer one-on-one technical assistance and education on how to market their business, get their business online, and implement new safety measures that keep their employees and customers safe. We are helping small business owners re-negotiate their leases with their landlords, and re-hire and retain their employees through partnerships with the public workforce system. This gift allows us to hire additional staff in this program so that we can provide even more in-depth services to more members of our community. 
  • Food Security: In April we began bagging groceries for home-bound, low-income seniors and residents of affordable housing, through partnerships with the Alameda County Food Bank and World Central Kitchen, a program that we had never done before and did not have the staffing for. We packaged all of our Head Start meals into grab-and-go meals for hundreds of families with children under 5. We have since then distributed more than 52,000 meals at sites across Oakland and Concord. We know that simply giving meals out is a short-term solution to a long-term problem, and Jack’s investment, in addition to a generous grant from the Stupski Foundation, will help us develop a strategic new program of The Unity Council that pulls together small businesses, community-based organizations, and schools and childcare providers to tackle food access from a place-based neighborhood point of view.  

The relevance of our Mission has never been more important. Our goal is not just to stop the impacts of Covid-19 on our community. Our goal is to reverse decades of disinvestment in the people, businesses, and neighborhoods we love, support, and consider our home. We do not want to go back to the way things were. We want to build a new future grounded on equity, access, and power. And together, we are making it happen day by day.