A volunteer-led effort with Seattle roots that’s working to help families in need during the COVID-19 pandemic received a $1 million donation from a foundation backed by entrepreneur and former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang.
The $1k Project pairs donors with families in financial trouble, providing them $1,000 a month for three months.
The effort is focused on helping people who are not already plugged into social safety-net programs. Typical recipients include families with at least two dependents, particularly young children; single moms; families with no income or savings; people who are unable to work because of health issues and those unable to get unemployment.
Before this week’s announcement of Yang’s support, The $1k Project had already helped nearly 400 U.S. families since its April launch.
Part of Yang’s pitch for the U.S. presidency was the creation of the $1,000 a month Freedom Dividend, which his campaign described as “a universal basic income for all American adults, no strings attached — a foundation on which a stable, prosperous, and just society can be built.”
Access to extra cash is likely to become even more important as a federally funded boost for unemployed Americans ran out on Friday. U.S. lawmakers are struggling to come to an agreement on extending the benefits: Democratic leaders have pushed to continue the $600 a week increase, while Republicans are calling for less support.
“Everyone can do something. We have to acknowledge that our larger institutions are letting us down right now,” said Seattle’s Minda Brusse, a leader of the effort and co-founder of the venture capital firm First Row Partners. “We all need to think about what can we do for each other.”
Sponsors can read short profiles of families, select a match, and then contribute to a GoFundMe account established for that recipient. Through the partnership with Yang’s nonprofit Humanity Forward Foundation, donors can contribute smaller amounts that are matched, pooled and provided to families.
Larger donors can contribute to multiple families through Humanity Forward and claim their gift as a tax deduction. In that case, The $1k Project selects the recipient family in order to abide by tax regulations.
Both the donors and recipients remain anonymous in the exchange, but the families still share their gratitude with sponsors through emailed messages.
PREVIOUSLY: $1k Project makes direct, anonymous matches between sponsors and families suddenly in need
“So much stress has been taken off of me and I am so extremely grateful,” wrote TanQuisha from Florida.
A recipients’ profile includes a “referral chain” that tracks their nomination path to verify that they’re coming through a trusted source. Brusse suggests that families who are eager to be considered ask their former employers to recommend them.
The $3,000 can help people retain housing, and provide food and stability for kids.
“We’re trying to give people the opportunity,” Brusse said, “to make changes in their life that they need to make to keep their lives stable.”