Last updated: October 19, 2020
In our response, must understand that the disparities we are seeing are rooted in structural racism and are not about race. The COVID-19 pandemic is not about pre-existing conditions. It’s about pre-existing inequities from stolen Indigenous land and chattel slavery. As Race Forward reminds us, COVID-19 kills, structural racism is its accomplice.
As stated in our Funders Together to End Homelessness Commitment to Racial Equity, the work to end homelessness must center racial equity to more effectively recognize and meet the needs of people of color experiencing homelessness. Many of us are still developing our racial equity muscles, and during times of crisis, it is especially important to lean into racial equity work and not “put it aside” until a crisis is over. Being intentional now in addressing racial disparities and racist policies will create more equitable systems faster and allow for new ways of working together that live beyond the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In order for response and recovery efforts to be equitable, these questions, shared by the Consumer Health Foundation, should be asked at each step of any design and implementation process, including the philanthropic response:
- How does your response, even in the midst of crisis, contribute to long-term systems change?
- How are the voices of impacted communities centered?
- What data (quantitative or qualitative) are driving resource allocation? And what does that data tell you about the experiences of various racial/ethnic groups? How are women and LGBTQIA people of color particularly impacted?
- What are possible unintended consequences of the decisions you might make?
- What additional disaggregated demographic data will you collect, track, and evaluate to assess equity impacts in COVID-19 response moving forward, and how will that data inform your future decisions when the crisis is over?
- How are the actions you are taking grounded in history?
New recommendations (but not examples) are denoted with ***
Funding Priorities and Decisions
*** Look at where rapid response dollars are going and ensure that:
- Organizations led by and serving people of color and LGBTQ people are receiving resources every time dollars and resources are distributed. Because many of our racial equity muscles are still developing, we forget that this type of analysis is more important during crises and cannot be a process that is forgotten or paused until the pandemic is over.
- Dollars are flowing to communities affected the worst by COVID-19, job loss, and evictions, which are often neighborhoods that are predominantly BIPOC communities. Are your grant dollars and partnerships focused on those neighborhoods?
- *** Use available tools, such as CSH’s Racial Disparities and Disproportionality Index (RDDI) and Urban Institute’s Where to prioritize emergency rental assistance to keep renters in their homes map, to focus funding, outreach, and partnership efforts.
- Prioritize culturally specific organizations that are not historically part of the mainstream systems to ensure they know of and are able to access both public and private funding. Strengthen these relationships and, if not already, fold these organizations into your regular grantmaking portfolio. Resource mainstream organizations to work with culturally specific organizations and vice versa.
- *** Directly fund grassroots organizers, including ones who are working on racial justice, environmental justice, and housing justice, with unrestricted grants and help amplify their work, resources, and needs. Many grassroots organizers, especially those working for racial justice, truly understand an intersectional approach to supporting communities that includes access to adequate housing and healthcare.
Examples & Resources:
- Liberty Hill Foundation's COVID-19 response
- COVID-19 will not Affect Everyone the Same - Consumer Health Foundation
- Joint letter of commitment from several funders in the Washington DC area: The COVID-19 Crisis is a Racial Justice Issue & our Response must Prioritize the Power of Black, Indigenous, Latinx & Other People of Color
North Texas Cares is a common application that once submitted is reviewed by a collaboration of funders, including 30 North Texas foundations and United Ways, that have come together to provide support for organizations that work with people and communities most affected by all aspects of COVID-19. Its social justice funding priority focuses on programs to focus on education to cultivate anti-racism, community organizing and movement building, community, and programs that foster and build leadership for people of color in nonprofit organizations.
Supporting People of Color
- *** Make sure that the frontline staff, especially in organizations led by people of color, have access to the mental health and other wellness support systems to combat secondhand trauma.
- *** Listen to people with lived expertise about the compound impacts the pandemic and structural racism have and what they mean for policy and service priorities.
- Ensure and support outreach to populations experiencing homelessness or housing instability that may already be distrustful of the government and the medical system. This outreach should be led by people who already have a high degree of trust with those populations or communities.
Ensure people experiencing homelessness and housing instability, especially people of color and other marginalized groups, understand policies that are being proposed and hear what kinds of permanent policies would help them in the long run.
Examples & Resources:
NIS created 10 population-specific briefs to summarize the ideas and recommendations of individuals from ten historically-marginalized communities related to COVID-19 and structural racism:
- Priorities from Asian Americans
- Priorities from Black People
- Priorities from Latinx People
- Priorities from Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer (LGBQ)/Trans* People
- Priorities from Native-Indigenous People
- Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR): Addressing Secondary Traumatic Stress: Models and Promising Practices and Addressing Secondary Traumatic Stress: Philanthropy’s Role in Fostering Grantee Resilience
- The Simmons Foundation has been providing wellness resources to their grantees during this pandemic and during the racial justice uprisings. These have included guided meditations, yoga classes, and more.
- COVID-19 Resources for Partners in Multiple Languages - The California Endowment
- COVID-19 Action that Centers Black LGBTQ People Can Address Housing Inequities – Urban Institute
- Tribal Nations and Partners Tackle COVID-19 Inequities – W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Data, Evaluations, and Systems
- Examine how culturally specific organizations are or are not connected to mainstream organizations and policy tables. Resource both mainstream organizations to work with culturally specific organizations and vice versa.
- Support research and equitable evaluation efforts that are multi-culturally valid and oriented toward participant ownership to communicate the effects response strategies are having on public health, community well-being, and the systemic drivers of inequity.
- Create space to learn about authentic collaboration in policy and funding decisions engaging people with lived expertise. Make sure that people with lived expertise have real power at decision-making tables.
- Analyze how your COVID-19 grantmaking contributes to long-term systems change on top of meeting immediate needs.
Examples & Resources:
- An Equitable Systems Transformation Framework for COVID-19 - National Innovation Service (NIS)
- King County Equity Impact Awareness Tool - King County Office of Equity and Social Justice
- Race, Homelessness, and COVID-19 - Guidance for Homeless Services Providers - Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio
- The COVID-19 Crisis is a Racial Justice Issue & our Response must Prioritize the Power of Black, Indigenous, Latinx & Other People of Color – letter of commitment from philanthropic leaders in the DC-metro area
- Colorado Health Foundation COVID-19 Resource Page: Equity and Justice
- 3 Principles for an Antiracist, Equitable State Response to COVID-19 – and a Strong Recovery – Center on Budget and Policy Priorities