CFR's Response To COVID-19
Learn more about CFR's Emergency Response Program
Dear Friends and Partners, One month into the shelter in place, we hope you remain healthy, safe, and gainfully employed. Thank you for everything you are doing to help all of our communities through the myriad challenges we face.
At Community Financial Resources (CFR), we’ve been adapting and expanding our programming to ensure financial help quickly reaches those who need it most.
The biggest obstacle: Many very-low-income people are “unbanked” and unable to receive direct deposit of stimulus checks, unemployment benefits, and philanthropic relief funds.
Our solution: CFR has launched a two-phase COVID-19 Emergency Response Program to provide immediate emergency support through direct deposit – the first step to achieving financial stability – followed by saving and credit-building for the future.
Phase I: Emergency relief.CFR is providing the technology for foundations and nonprofits to disburse funds they have raised to meet families’ basic needs, such as paying for rent, housing, food, utilities, healthcare costs, or unpaid sick and family leave. Participants enroll in CFR’s Focus Card, a special prepaid Visa debit card available to the unbanked. The sponsoring organization approves emergency requests and CFR direct deposits the funds on participants’ Focus Cards within 72 hours.
Phase II: Saving & Credit Building. Many low-income people will incur crippling debt as a result of lost wages. Once participants have stabilized financially, our program focuses on helping them recover from financial losses by building savings and establishing or repairing credit using products from Self Help Credit Union – preparing them to weather the next financial storm.
Facilitating emergency grants throughout the Bay Area.
Through our partnerships with The San Francisco Foundation and the East Bay Community Foundation, we are disbursing emergency funds via Focus Cards through organizations including Healthy & Active Before 5, Black Organizing Project, Safe Return Project, ACCE Oakland and ACCE Contra Costa County (Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment), and Oakland Codes, a cohort of four nonprofits providing leadership and employment training to low-income youth of color.
Focus Cardholders to receive speedy stimulus payments.
Thanks to CFR and our partners, thousands of low-income workers already enrolled in CFR’s Focus Card through Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites have already received or will receive their stimulus payments faster via electronic payment, instead of waiting for a physical check to be mailed – possibly as long as 3 months out. (Learn more about how Focus Cardholders can use their cards to access stimulus payments.)
The COVID-19 crisis has exposed the true face of income and wealth inequity in America. As we broaden our efforts supporting low-wage workers’ abilities to negotiate the pandemic and its economic consequences, we hope you will join us in responding to this crisis.
Perhaps – if you are in a position to do so – you might even consider donating your stimulus check to help us reach the very-low-income and unbanked families who are falling through the dangerous cracks broken open by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thank you for your support!