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Open Society Foundations Commit Emergency Support to Address the Impact of COVID-19 in New York City

NEW YORK—The Open Society Foundations today announced they would provide $37 million in relief for New York City’s immigrant and undocumented families, low-wage workers, domestic workers, caregivers, and those in the informal and gig economies who are at greatest risk from the pandemic. 

This emergency package is part of a $133.7 million investment to confront the impact of the coronavirus worldwide. Beyond New York City, which is the U.S. epicenter, an additional $30.7 million will support vulnerable communities across the country. Another $65.8 million will aid response efforts to COVID-19 worldwide. 

Open Society will give $15 million to the New York City Fund for Public Schools to support the Department of Education’s emergency COVID-19 response. This funding will support efforts that could include emergency support for remote learning, as well as centers for young and school-age children of essential workers who are on the frontlines.

“This crisis has exposed just how much we rely on those who provide essential services—the domestic workers, the health workers, the janitors, the workers harvesting, stocking, and delivering our food, and so many others—and just how precarious life is for far too many of these folks,” said Patrick Gaspard, president of the Open Society Foundations. “It is time for us to appreciate the dignity of workers, who form the backbone of our economies but are too often invisible to our media and our policymakers.” 

The emergency funding also provides $20 million to New York City to create a new Immigrant Emergency Relief Program. The fund, to be managed by the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City in partnership with the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, will work with on-the-ground community organizations to provide direct, one-time emergency relief payments to up to 20,000 immigrant New York City families who are hardest hit financially by the crisis, yet excluded from the reach of the federal relief program—including undocumented workers who play a vital role in the city’s economy. 

Further Open Society investments of $12 million will contribute to emergency relief for vulnerable workers in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., with others to come.

Nationally, Open Society will also provide $2 million to support domestic workers across the United States, through the National Domestic Workers Alliance’s Coronavirus Care Fund, as the organization seeks to support tens of thousands of low-paid home workers—the vast majority of whom are women—whose often informal jobs have disappeared due to the crisis. 

The National Domestic Workers Alliance has developed a platform, which, in partnership with local governments, holds great promise as a new model for reaching these populations, all too often neglected by policymakers and service providers. The Foundations have made an additional $2.8 million investment in this platform, called Alia. 

Open Society is giving an additional $900,000 in community grants to support front-line organizations providing services to New York City’s most vulnerable populations, including the homeless—who often have the greatest need for support and yet the least access to assistance. Open Society is sending further funding to community groups coping with the crisis in Baltimore, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C.—communities in which Open Society works and to which the Foundations maintain deep ties.

The Foundations’ emergency response package is also investing globally in supporting low-wage workers and other vulnerable communities; protecting refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers; ensuring that treatments and vaccines for the pandemic are accessible to all; and countering the authoritarian power grabs we have seen in response to this crisis.

“This emergency funding is a first step,” said Gaspard. “It is part of what will be a broad and ongoing effort by the Foundations in the months ahead to respond to the economic, social, and political impact of the pandemic. Our response will be shaped by our mission to support those who find themselves pushed to the precarious margins of society even in the best of times.”

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