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  • The REACH Relief Fund: Coming Together for Oakland Families During COVID-19

    COVID19, and the ensuing shelter-in-place orders, created a scary and uncertain time for everyone in Oakland. And for many of our most vulnerable families, this time isn’t just scary and uncertain — it’s about making the paycheck stretch another day, and surviving another week. 

    During this crisis, we knew we had a huge opportunity to be our best and to come together as a community. That’s why we urgently launched the REACH Relief Fund within days of the city’s stay-at-home orders to raise money so Oakland families had what they needed for rent, food, and other basic necessities. We knew we had to do something quickly, but we truly had no idea what the response would be.

    In just the first week, we had received 600 applications. A few days later, we were forced to close the application because we had requests from over 1,000 people and didn’t know if we could raise the funds to meet so much need. But because of our generous donors, we were able to get funding to every applicant.

    Our priorities included: Families supported by hourly workers who have lost income because of COVID-19 closures; Low-income families whose children qualify for free or reduced school lunch; Families who are housing insecure or at risk of becoming so; and/or undocumented and mixed status families who may not be able to access government programs.

    We provided families with one and many,or two rounds of fast funding for what they needed, when they most needed it, including: 
    Cleaning and sanitizing supplies
    Gas and transportation to work
    Homeschool or child care supplies and resources.

    On behalf of the entire team at the Oakland REACH, we want to give a massive shoutout to the 262 (!!) individual donors and ten organizations who rallied together to urgently contribute to our Relief Fund.

    Words cannot express our gratitude to the team at New Schools Venture Fund who filled a massive remaining gap in the fund, and to The Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, The Schusterman Family Foundation, Educate 78, The Rogers Foundation, Oakland Public Education Fund, GO Public Schools, The California Wellness Foundation, Koshland Foundation, Silicon Schools Fund, and The Oakland Rotary Clubfor making it possible to support so many families.

    The REACH Relief Fund was one of the first to get funds out the door to these families, and it made a real difference. Here’s what just a few of our families had to say: 

    “The Oakland REACH has answered my prayers.”
    “Thank you very much for your help, we are not working, and we hardly have any food. My wife is a patient and is in stage 4 of cancer. We are worried and I still have to be there for my wife and children.”
    “Thank you, this came right on time. It is going to help pay rent.”
    “I was mugged outside my house and they took my wallet, with all my money inside. So this money is a blessing. Thank you, thank you.” 
    “This is the only program that I found that has helped me during this crisis.”

    At the Oakland REACH, we often chant, “Who’s got your back? I got your back!” as a show of solidarity. 

    Thank you to each and every individual and organization who stepped up in this crisis to make it clear you’ve got our backs. It means so much. 

    Read more about the REACH Relief Fund: 
    Forbes: What You Can Do to Support Struggling Families Now 
    Education Post: This is What Education Activism Looks Like During COVID-19 
    KTVU Fox 2: Oakland nonprofit comes through for single mother struggling to make ends meet amid economic downfall