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SCG Community: Emerging Equity Practices in Coronavirus Responses

Friday, April 10, 2020
The Coronavirus outbreak has disproportionately impacted and devastated communities that are already grappling with long-standing legacies of racial injustice and economic disenfranchisement. As we continue to track the long-term implications of this virus, it is imperative to account for how our most vulnerable organizations and communities will recover from the unprecedented damage caused by this global pandemic.  
After several weeks of convening members and community partners to learn about their rapid-response efforts, we would like to elevate several strategies that center equity as a foundational value of funders' current work. As a sector, we must explicitly acknowledge why certain populations are hurt more than others by this virus and fortify our commitment to racial equity in order to create a world where everyone has resources and opportunities for recovery. 
Following up on last week’s SCG Emerging Trends in COVID-19 Responses, this blog offers a high-level snapshot of how SCG's members have adapted to supporting our hardest-hit organizations that predominantly serve people of color and low-income communities. We do not consider this list comprehensive of all equity practices and responses and will be updating it regularly as we see more trends emerge. If you have a strategy you would like to share with us, please reach out to us directly.



Prioritizing the Hardest Hit Communities

In designing response efforts, it is imperative to utilize a racial equity framework to address the current and long-standing challenges of vulnerable communities. At the moment, low-income communities and communities of color are experiencing amplified effects of the outbreak, such as lack of available coronavirus test kits, limited access to healthcare supports, not having basic needs met because of school closures, already high mortality and morbidity rates, and many other challenges. Not only that, but the organizations that support these populations are often the first to shut down due to the magnified financial strain brought on by unprecedented emergencies. These organizations, usually led by people of color, can swiftly adapt their missions to become critical providers of essential services to communities during extraordinary moments. One way for grantmakers to practice equity is by directing resources to organizations that predominantly operate within communities of color or low-income communities, and supporting those that don’t have the same financial backing as larger institutions or are in danger of not surviving this pandemic. Funders can also apply other equity grantmaking strategies and implement a racial justice lens to their giving. 


Supporting Marginalized Populations

It is also vital to support communities who do not qualify for or are altogether excluded from federal coronavirus assistance. These groups include immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, native Americans and tribal communities, and incarcerated people. Not only do these populations already experience increased levels of racism and are at the receiving end of punitive policies, but now they are being denied access to basic support services and relief efforts. For example, various immigrants, especially undocumented individuals, are currently afraid to ask for assistance because of recent changes to the public charge rule. Additionally, SCG’s members are advocating for incarcerated communities who are asking for compassionate relief in the face of potential mass transmission in detention centers and homeless populations who have great difficulty in accessing available resources. Grantmakers can support by actively looking for populations that are frequently left out and left behind, and adjusting their funding priorities to reach these communities. 


Adapting Resources for People with Disabilities 

Adult dependents, which includes adults with disabilities that rely on care from their family members, are excluded from the federal stimulus package. Available supports are not always fully accessible to a variety of different needs. It is critical to adapt coronavirus resources to accommodate people with disabilities. Organizations can start by working to ensure that websites, emails, and documents are accessible to screen readers and other technologies, adding image descriptions to all visual social media content, and embedding captions to recorded webinars and video content. You can find an array of tools and tactics to make your communications more accessible by visiting SCG’s Resource Page from our 2019 Disability Inclusion Conference. Additionally, as organizations continue to implement and refine their remote work systems and technologies, it is critical to reflect on how historically these same accommodations had not been offered to people with disabilities who face staggering rates of unemployment. As we rebuild in the coming months, we have an opportunity to reflect on how to build a more inclusive work culture.


Denouncing Xenophobia and Racism

Implementing an equity framework requires funders to name the systemic inequities explicitly in our response efforts, or risk being seen as compliant in maintaining the status quo. Grantmakers have an opportunity to acknowledge systemic injustices in their external communications or directly in their grant applications. SCG is proud to join over 130 foundations and philanthropic organizations in signing Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy's (AAPIP) letter asking our colleagues in philanthropy to take decisive action against the racism targeting Asian Americans in the U.S. amid the COVID-19 outbreak. You can sign the letter here


Providing In-Language Resources and Funding Ethnic Media 

As you continue to create and curate coronavirus-related resources, it is recommended that these items be translated into multiple languages to reach diverse populations. SCG's members are working with the Los Angeles Department of Public Health to provide in-language guides for updates and safety recommendations. It is also crucial to support ethnic media outlets in amplifying their reach as trusted partners in various communities. Ethnic media, like many other small businesses, are facing financial hardship. In funding ethnic media, grantmakers are helping to maintain vital sources of information for vulnerable populations.


Elevating the Voices of Grantees and Communities 

In the spirit of true partnership, many grantmakers are intentionally getting input from grantees and organizations working at the front lines. Numerous SCG members are hosting frequent conversations with their grantees and partners in order to learn more about their current experiences, elevate the most pressing needs directly from the community, and plan for their unique, emerging challenges. 


Trusting Nonprofits and Supporting Their Wellbeing 

As we continue to see the rise of racial hostility in this pandemic, it is essential to monitor the wellbeing of nonprofit partners proactively. More than ever, staff members and individuals on the ground are carrying the weight of intolerance through micro-aggressions in the workplace or blatant hatred in external environments. It is necessary to be proactive in leading with equity, offering support outside of funding, and creating space for partners to feel supported. Increasingly, the principles of Trust-Based Philanthropy are being tested as philanthropy rapidly learns and applies more trust-based practices to their relationships with nonprofits


Amplifying Census Outreach in the Age of Coronavirus 

The 2020 Census has faced many challenges — the attempt to include an untested citizenship question, delays in funding, and now the untold impact of Coronavirus. It is more important than ever to reach out to hard-to-count populations and continue to support a robust movement infrastructure to improve opportunities for historically marginalized Californians. While in-person, door-to-door outreach strategies are no longer viable, philanthropy can support the 2020 Census by relaxing grant requirements, providing emergency funding for Census outreach, encouraging digital organizing, and sharing resources from other Census leads. 


Planning for the Long-Term

As funders continue rapidly responding to immediate needs, it is increasingly important to prepare for the outbreak’s peak and the potential long-term impacts on our most vulnerable communities. While community members have received temporary relief through local eviction moratoriums or delayed payments on utility bills, many individuals will likely struggle to pay the accumulated debt or meet their payment plans after the crisis. These already vulnerable communities will also face a new host of post-crisis challenges, including potential medical debts, students falling further behind because of education disruptions, staggering unemployment, and a variety of other obstacles that will prevent them from bouncing back quickly. Grantmakers have begun thinking about their funding through a staged-approach to ensure that they can allocate the right amount of resources at every stage of the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, funders must begin discussing the policy solutions that will address the multitude of systemic problems that have been exacerbated by the coronavirus outbreak. 


If you have a strategy you would like to share, please reach out to us directly. You can view our full list of SCG member responses to COVID-19 by visiting our Directory of Responses.  
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