As reported in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Surdna is one of many funders stepping up their support for workers. Below is an excerpt of an article by Alex Daniels that looks at foundations’ early efforts to help workers survive and thrive.
Foundations that already support workers have taken some early steps since the pandemic hit. Ford’s Future of Work(ers) program supports a variety of organizations and coalitions, including the Jobs With Justice Education Fund, the New Orleans Worker’ Center for Racial Justice, and the New York Taxi Workers Alliance.
Gupta has used previously unallocated portions of her grants budget and has culled money from some of Ford’s other grant-making programs to come up with $2 million in immediate-response funds. The Irvine Foundation committed an additional $22 million to its programs that aim to benefit low-wage workers.
The Surdna Foundation plans to direct $4 million to several of its grant-making programs, including nearly half a million dollars to its Inclusive Economies program, which supports the development of African American and Latino businesses, and ensuring African-American and Latino workers’ have input in business decision-making processes.
The foundation will deploy those grants using a streamlined process, says Mekaelia Davis, the program’s director, and she expects to do more in the next fiscal year.
Surdna has supported groups like Coworker.org, a website that helps workers organize and solicit support for campaigns, and the Economic Security Project, a group founded by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes that has attracted support from several foundations for its Anti-Monopoly Fund, which is attempting to break apart consolidated corporate power.
Some of Surdna’s grantees, such as Family Values at Work, have been pushing for paid sick leave and higher minimum wages, issues that the pandemic has brought to the center of the nation’s attention.
In the months ahead, Davis says, it will be important to ensure that small businesses owned by people of color have the same access to money Congress has set aside for the coronavirus response and to direct benefits to all workers, regardless of their immigration status.
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