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Across the country, COVID-19 has upended the lives of many residents and small business owners in the communities that LISC supports, many of which are historically disinvested. LISC quickly mobilized to support the people and communities already at the margins of care and resources by creating the Rapid Relief and Resiliency Fund, and we reached out to our partners for support.
MetLife Foundation answered LISC’s call to action with a $500,000 commitment to support our COVID-19 response efforts — specifically to provide relief funds to communities across the nation with a particular focus in New York State. LISC will leverage its network of Financial Opportunity Centers (FOCs) to provide emergency cash assistance to help neighborhood residents meet immediate needs. FOCs are trusted, accessible, and culturally sensitive community-based organizations that deliver integrated services in the areas of career coaching, financial coaching and credit building, and access to income supports. The national network of over 100 FOCs serves over 24,000 individuals in 30 cities each year.
With already compromised financial health, the financial gains made by the low-wage workers that were benefiting from the services of the FOCs prior to “social distancing” are in jeopardy due to reduced or loss of income, housing insecurity, the need for childcare amidst school closures, inaccessibility of social safety nets, and other economic challenges and household strains caused by the pandemic.
“LISC has demonstrated time and again their ability to quickly reach communities in need with the right resources and services. We’re proud to continue this partnership to help hard-working people get through these difficult times and have opportunities to be successful in the future,” said Dennis White, President and CEO of MetLife Foundation.
MetLife Foundation has been a long time LISC partner, supporting financial health programming through the FOC network since 2013 with, now, a total of $8.25MM in grant support. With MetLife Foundation’s new infusion of resources, the FOCs can respond even more effectively as their community members seek ongoing FOC services as well as help with emergency rental assistance, food pantry, tax prep, and access to benefits.
Additionally, MetLife Foundation’s support will enable LISC to build the FOCs’ capacity to provide high- quality remote services to clients, which will play a critical role in the recovery efforts as individuals increase income, pay off debt, and rebuild savings. As FOCs leverage technology and develop new modes of service delivery, this improved infrastructure will help maintain a continuity of services—and diversify service options to better meet client needs—for the foreseeable future when social distancing guidance remains in effect, and beyond.
LISC is grateful for MetLife Foundation’s support and our nearly 40-year partnership in building strong, resilient communities.