FROM THE DIRECTOR

MAY 2020

The relentless nature of the pandemic, the frustration with an uncoordinated government response, the challenges in getting relief to communities most in need, and the likely year-long wait to achieving a fully rolled out vaccination is exhausting for all of us. Information overload, and relative powerlessness against the disease coupled with social isolation, can cause one to forget all  that we can still do to reduce harm and rebuild economic prosperity for low and moderate income communities within a future that has much greater equity.

As the extent of COVID-19’s impact on the economic prospects for workers is revealed, the role of philanthropy to provide relief and help define the new approaches rooted in equity for the future is even clearer. Workers, especially women, persons of color and low-wage workers in essential supply and health service chains, continue to face the brunt of the fallout with loss of income, jobs or challenges in getting government support. The philanthropic response must rise to the leadership needed.

AFN will continue to focus on philanthropic response by our members related to low and middle income household’s economic well-being and security. In what has become AFN’s monthly COVID-19 Bulletin, we will continue to highlight member efforts to help foster peer learnings, as well as share opportunities for deeper peer engagement and expanded investments by other funders. Summaries of the ideas raised by members will be up on our website in the “action in the field” section.

We also launched a continuing series of member-only discussions tackling different issues relevant to economic security and asset building focusing on investment approaches for supporting and rebuilding the financial health disrupted by the pandemic. We are limiting these to 25 or fewer members to promote deeper peer learning and engagement. Registration is first-come, first-served for AFN members.

We understand that the focus must be economic relief, recovery, and rebuilding of the economy that includes reimagined equitable systems for greater asset building where everyone can thrive. AFN, members and partners will continue to focus on the briefing series within the seven issue areas we established as the key points of entry to asset building. A few examples of this focus sharpened by what is happening as a result of COVID-19 include:

  • a primer on financial security and wealth building for survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse,
  • two briefs on bi-directional health wealth strategies to make the knowledge of the social determinants of health an integrated part of thinking related to asset building for those focused on children age 0-3 and for working adults,
  • how to encourage the delivery of effective financial coaching with a racial equity lens,
  • an overview of the philanthropic strategies to improve short term financial security of LMI households (many who will have exhausted their reserves) and the metrics to ensure effectiveness, and
  • a continued focus of debt that is imposed on LMI households by local governments, health systems, post-secondary education, and predatory lenders highlighting the efforts by funders to deliver relief and lasting solutions.

We are also reviewing all of the past briefs developed across the years to showcase relevant strategic recommendations for funders to use in rebuilding and developing equitable economic resilience.

AFN members and I ask you to join the conversation, add value to your peers, help to move the creativity from your region to others and most of all to join in the efforts for all of us to get through this to a better economic future.