PORTLAND, Ore — Members of the Black community who have been hurt financially by the COVID-19 pandemic can now apply for grants from a new $62 million fund.
The Oregon Cares Fund for Black Relief and Resiliency is now accepting applications on its website. The Oregon Legislature’s Emergency Board approved the fund in July by voting to allocate $200 million from the federally funded CARES Act to specific communities and sections of the economy.
The fund received 4,300 applications from individuals and 120 applications from businesses on Monday, organizers said.
A group of 11 Black leaders from across the state called the Council of Trust is charged with guiding the fund and two nonprofits will distribute the cash grants by December 30.
Applicants must prove they are residents in Oregon and the coronavirus pandemic has hurt them financially. After an application is submitted, review will likely take a few weeks due to high volume, fund organizers said.
“This is a wonderful, deserved, and appropriate step to address the harm caused by COVID-19 on the Black community,” says Sharon Gary-Smith, former executive director of the MRG Foundation and member of the Council of Trust. “Black Oregonians have had monumental losses in spirit, hope, community, and resources due to centuries of racial injustice and discrimination.”
The coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately impacted the Black community and other communities of color, state health officials said.
“This is a historic first step to address the disparities facing Black Oregonians in the face of COVID-19,” said Rep. Akasha Lawrence Spence (D-Portland). “Oregon has underinvested in its Black citizens for far too long. From this moment forward, our state must commit to continued investment in the health and economic well-being of our communities throughout this pandemic, in the recovery efforts, and for as long as it takes to finally close the inequities that have crippled Black Oregonians for generations.”
Learn more about the fund here.