We are now many weeks into the COVID-19 crisis, and finally the media are shining a light on the staggering racial disparities in the impact of this pandemic. Early on, it was fashionable to refer to the virus as “the great equalizer”—COVID-19 doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, black or white, rural or urban. Now we know that was untrue. This virus is impacting African-Americans to a far greater degree.
In Chicago where I am from, African-Americans represent 39% of total infections and 54% of deaths from COVID-19, but just 29% of the total population. These numbers reflect health disparities in which black and brown people are more likely to have the underlying conditions that leave them more vulnerable to complications from the virus. Black and brown Americans (particularly women) are most at risk of contracting the virus through their employment, and if they lose their jobs due to the economic shutdown, they are less likely to have the financial resources to weather the storm.
Even the economic relief efforts are leaving black and brown people behind. According to the Center for Responsible Lending, as many as 95% of black-owned businesses have little chance of receiving a Paycheck Protection Program loan through a mainstream bank or credit union.
Truly this crisis has laid bare the deep inequities in our economy and labor force. We will need to work hard to ensure that our recovery is equitable. All of us want life to return to normal as soon as possible, but as we already know that “normal” wasn’t so great for a lot of people.
I am inspired by the energy and passion of the National Fund network, particularly our commitment to the workers and businesses most impacted by this pandemic—and to leverage this crisis to redesign an inclusive economy that works for everyone.
The Road to Success
With supply chains in the spotlight due to coronavirus, explore how an innovative partnership between industry, education, and workforce development provided hundreds of low-income Mississippi residents with family-sustaining careers in truck driving.
n 2008, the Great Recession forced many companies to lay off workers. Universal Woods took a different tack. Instead of letting people go, they partnered with their employees to find solutions that would keep everyone on staff. As orders began to pick up, Universal Woods surged far ahead of its competitors. Learn how employers investing in their workforce through a recession can come out stronger than ever.
CareerSTAT Featured Best Practice
Flexible Learning Options
With a full-time job and family responsibilities (which right now include homeschooling), traditional classroom learning schedules are challenging for many adult learners. Now, with social distancing and stay-at-home orders, flexible and alternative learning approaches are essential. Across our network, healthcare organizations are scrambling to fill positions needed to treat coronavirus patients. Nimble organizations that are already offering flexible learning options have been able to pivot to online-only in the midst of COVID-19.
Co-Invest for Impact
We catalyze our network to co-invest in a set of integrated solutions that enable workers, employers and communities to advance a skilled workforce, promote good jobs and invest in equitable outcomes. Co-investment is so central to the National Fund model, that it, too, is one of our solutions.
What does co-investment look like in our network? How do our partner communities bring local investors together around a shared strategic vision for workforce development?
Find out the answers to these questions and more by digging into our Co-Invest for Impact solution.
Success Across the Network
News from the Field
Nearly half of Dallas residents don’t have enough money set aside for even a minor emergency. “Three hundred dollars to $1,000 can be the difference between things starting to unravel and things being OK,” says Susan Hoff of the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. “That cuts across lots of income levels.” And that’s why the organization launched Financial Wellness @ Work for its employees and is encouraging other area businesses to do the same. Learn more about financial wellness programs and the partnership in Dallas here.
Media and Articles
National Fund for Workforce Solutions