— As communities across the nation reopen, many individuals are emerging from lockdown fearful of what the future holds. In a city where 32 percent of black Baltimoreans have zero net worth and 67 percent cannot survive more than three months in the absence of income*— the “new normal” evokes real fear and trepidation. The demand for emergency services, food, rent, utility, childcare assistance and mental health services are at an all-time high. In response, the social impact organization, CLLCTIVLY is providing fifty, $500 micro-grants to Changemakers in Baltimore’s black community. To donate visit: baltimorecovidfund.com
“We wanted to create a no-strings attached grant to support black-led organizations serving in Baltimore. In particular, we wanted to create a fund that wouldn’t require organizations to jump through hoops to prove how they have been impacted by COVID-19. We didn’t have to wait for data. There is over 400 years of data that demonstrates how our communities have been historically dis-invested and underdeveloped. We understand the racial wealth gap and what Susan Taylor Batten, President and CEO of ABFE, calls “foundation redlining,” said Jamye Wooten, the founder of CLLCTIVLY. “The Baltimore Black-led Solidarity Fund is not charity or aid; it is solidarity.”
Baltimore’s black community disproportionately represents individuals who work low wage/hourly jobs, lack adequate health care and suffer from chronic health conditions and housing insecurity. Prior to COVID-19 the unemployment rate in black Baltimore was over three times as much then in white communities. In certain areas of the city there is a 20-year life expectancy gap between predominantly black neighborhoods and wealthier whiter neighborhoods. Now, the pre-existing factors are exacerbated by the devastating economic and health impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the helm and on the ground are black-led organizations, who themselves have been impacted and need help to serve Baltimore’s most vulnerable. That’s where the Baltimore Black-led Solidarity Fund comes into play.
“In the spirit of Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility) now is the time for all of us to come together to support those in need and to contribute to the vitality and health of our community,” Wooten implores.
CLLCTIVLY.org is a place-based social change organization using an asset-based framework to focus on racial equity, narrative change, and social connectedness.