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During the COVID-19 pandemic, philanthropic entities across the US embraced giving directly—transferring cash to people—as an effective and efficient means of providing relief to those hit hard by the sudden economic and health emergency. Since the onset of the pandemic and in partnership with donors, nonprofit organizations, and local government agencies, the Greater Washington Community Foundation has facilitated the administration of approximately $26 million in funds, distributed in increments of $50 to $2,500 to approximately 60,000 residents across the Greater Washington, DC, region. This report describes the goals, strategies, and short-term achievements of the foundation and its partners in developing and implementing cash transfer strategies at the height of the pandemic. Closer examination of the foundation's role provides insight for private donors, government agencies, and nonprofits into how partnership with local philanthropy can help them deliver a speedy and equitable response to populations hit hardest by a crisis.
Many immigrant families have avoided safety net and pandemic relief programs in recent years over concerns that their participation would have adverse immigration consequences. These chilling effects on program participation occurred in the context of a restrictive immigration policy environment under the Trump administration, including the expansion of the "public charge" rule. Though the Biden administration has reverted to prior guidance on the public charge rule and reversed many other immigration policy changes, chilling effects may continue to deter adults in immigrant families from seeking safety net supports for which they or their children are eligible.This study draws on Well-Being and Basic Needs Survey data collected in December 2020 and interviews conducted with adults in immigrant families and people who work at organizations that connect immigrant families to health, nutrition, and other support programs in California. The interviews were conducted between March and May 2021, in the early months of the Biden administration, offering unique insights as policy priorities were shifting.