a black woman in glasses and a white shirt with a determined expression
Ilana Kaufman, executive director of the Jews of Color Field Building Initiative. (Photo/Michael Fox)

Pandemic relief fund for Jews of color now open

The Jews of Color Field Building Initiative, a nonprofit formed in Berkeley in 2018 to support Jews of color in the Bay Area and around the country, has announced a new emergency relief fund geared toward Jews of color, and people of color within the Jewish community, affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The “Jews of Color Initiative COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund for Individuals,” announced via press release on May 26, will help cover basic necessities including housing, utilities and groceries, medical bills, and burial expenses.

In announcing the initiative, executive director Ilana Kaufman cited systemic racism, which has been “amplifying the impact” of the pandemic on people of color.

“We need to get funds into the hands of the most vulnerable, many of whom struggle daily to pay bills and put food on the table,” Kaufman said.

Nationally, people of color have been disproportionately hurt by a pandemic that has killed more than 100,000 people in the United States and has sent the economy into a tailspin. According to a recent report from American Public Media, the overall mortality rate for black Americans is 2.4 times higher than for white Americans.

In California, figures from the Department of Public Health show that racial disparities are most acute for working-age Latino adults. As of May 26, Latinos between the ages of 35 and 49 accounted for 74 percent of deaths in the state, despite making up just 41.5 percent of the population.

The JCFBI cited the highly competitive and labor-intensive grant application processes that currently prevail, and is instead making the grant-seeking process a “light-lift” so as to be accessible and accommodating to working people and those with hectic life routines.

“Minimal documentation related to finances is required,” the organization said. “The Relief Fund trusts the information the applicant provides.”

“It’s our responsibility to provide an accessible [grant process] that reflects the urgency and equity that this moment demands,” Kaufman said.

Applications will be reviewed in batches, with an effort to match funding to need. Grants of between $250 and $2,500 will be issued, and funds must be put toward the essential uses named above, the release said.

Eligible applicants are people of color in the Jewish community living in the United States, “People of Color who self-identify as Jewish, People of Color who work or have worked for a Jewish communal organization, and People of Color affiliated with organizations in the Jewish community,” JCFBI said.

The fund is currently open, and applications can be accessed here.

Gabe Stutman
Gabe Stutman

Gabe Stutman is the news editor of J. Follow him on Twitter @jnewsgabe.