By now we are all too familiar with the sobering statistic that almost 40% of American adults are not able to cover a $400 emergency with cash or savings. As the economic impacts of COVID 19 ravaged the economy, individuals working in the hardest-hit industries, primarily BIPOC, were left with few options, especially those left out of any federal relief. While community-based organizations rallied to provide direct cash assistance, many already understood that a one-time cash payment would not be enough to restore the economic security of lower-income families. How can we learn from this moment? How might we reimagine a system that provides sufficient and inclusive support to all members of society?
On December 8, 2020, we held a webinar to hear from leading community-based providers and key thought leaders on the front lines who have been involved with providing direct cash assistance for years. Panelists shared outcomes from their COVID relief efforts and longer-term guaranteed income initiatives as well as discussed the opportunity for bold and inclusive policies and innovations such as expanding the safety net, guaranteed basic income, and others. This was an opportunity for funders who are considering new yet tested approaches to address income inequality and economic security in a new world.