CFR's COVID-19 Emergency Response

Working families faced the immediate economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. As families continue to confront loss of income, disbursing emergency funding through physical checks now comes with unprecedented health risks.


That's why Community Financial Resources quickly worked with funders and partners to distribute emergency funds via direct deposit to those who need it most. We continue to use technology to expand our programs and services to provide safe and speedy assistance to working families. To date, we have deposited over $743,000 of emergency response funds to more than 1400 families and have seen over 3,000 low-income households receive over $7 million in economic stimulus and tax refunds via direct deposit through CFR’s Focus Card.

A Guide to the Stimulus Payment 

A message from Our Community to Yours

Emergency Response Program's Impact

Additional resources


  • As of August 1, we have deposited over $743,000 of emergency response funds to more than 1400 families though our Focus Cards, Self Help Saving Accounts, and US Bank Visa Rewards Cards.

  • Within the first two weeks of stimulus payment distribution, close to $4 million dollars was distributed directly into the CFR US Bank accounts of over 2,500 low-wage families that needed it the most. 

  • As of July 1, we have seen over 3,000 low-income households receive over $7 million in economic stimulus and tax refunds via direct deposit through CFR’s Focus Card.


A message from our community to yours.

Dear Friends and Partners,

We hope you remain healthy, safe and gainfully employed. Thank you for everything you are doing to help all of our communities through the many 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 Richmond Rapid Response, The San Francisco Foundation, the East Bay Community Foundation, Hellman Foundation Fund, Richmond Community Foundation Connects, S.H. Cowell Foundation, and Tipping Point Community in conjunction with  Mobility LABs Coalition, we are disbursing emergency funds via Focus Cards through organizations including Techqueria, Healthy & Active Before 5, Black Organizing Project, Safe Return ProjectEast Oakland Collective 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!

Community Finacial Resouces

April 2020


Additional Resources

Looking for resources and tools to weather this storm? We know information is key, here is some information that we hope can be of some help: 
  • We have created a guide to help Focus Cardholders access their stimulus payment.

  • We are here to help Non-Filers receive their stimulus payment. Learn more

    • If you have already filed but want to add direct deposit information you can do so here.

  • The Marguerite Casey Foundation has compiled a comprehensive resource collection, including government relief, responsive funding, organizational tools, care, and action. The collection is updated regularly. View it here.

  • Have a question about COVID-19 economic stimulus relief? Check out this guide created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 

  • Many have responded to the pandemic by providing direct cash assistance to those most impacted. This has reignited the once-radical idea of guaranteed income, commonly understood as universal basic income (UBI). Read our blog post on what we think needs to be included when discussing guaranteed income.

© 2020 Community Financial Resources

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