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United Way, BET Donate $1 Million To Local Black Organizations

By Alysha Conner | LA Wave Newspapers

LOS ANGELES — A major nonprofit organization dedicated to breaking the poverty cycle in the most vulnerable communities in Los Angeles has granted more than $1 million to five locally based nonprofits that serve local communities of color impacted by the pandemic.

United Way of Greater Los Angeles has partnered with the NAACP and Black Entertainment Television to grant more than $1 million towards rental assistance, food, health, and student learning support in L.A.’s Black communities.

“This has been a tough time for nonprofits across L.A. County because of the quarantine, isolation and lack of infrastructure that many organizations have,” said Tommy Newman, senior director of impact initiatives at the United Way of Greater Los Angeles. “People are worried about their own income and their own families. So, we’re seeing less giving and fewer donations than we have in the past.

“That’s why it’s really important for organizations like BET and others to use their platforms to step up because that’s the only way we’re going to be able to make up that gap.”

Organizations selected to receive the collaborative grant from United Way of Greater Los Angeles and BET include Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA-CAN), Community Coalition, A New Way of Life, Los Angeles Black Worker Center and YWCA of Greater Los Angeles.

Funds for the grants were made available through the joint efforts of United Way Worldwide, the NAACP and donations raised from BET’s broadcast special “Saving Our Selves: A BET COVID-19 Relief Effort,” which aired April 22.

“Our community has been deeply impacted by the pandemic,” said La Tonya Harris, co-executive director of LA Black Worker Center. “Not only in terms of infections but in job losses and economic stress that is drastically threatening the ability for Black households to keep a roof over their heads and provide for their families.

“This funding gives us an opportunity to support Black participants enrolled in our employment readiness program that speaks to the current state of work in the age of COVID 19 and to equip Black workers with best practices on how to navigate the job search process. Additionally, we are helping our community members with financial assistance who have been impacted by this crisis.”

“We appreciate the backing of BET and United Way to help us bring support to the Black community. COVID-19 has hit our community really hard,” said Susan Burton, founder and president of A New Way of Life. “We are thankful that, with this funding, we will be able to channel support into the Black community. And ensure that folks receive meaningful relief that allows them to pay their bills.”

All grants from BET fundraising proceeds have been dispersed to the recipients. United Way of Greater Los Angeles maintains communication with all grantees after funds are issued to ensure the betterment and progression of L.A. communities.

United Way of Greater Los Angeles was the only chapter within the United Way network on the West Coast selected to benefit from BET telethon funds. Other regions of United Way that were chosen as beneficiaries to assist local Black communities included New York City, Atlanta, New Orleans, Detroit, and Chicago.

The two-hour BET television special featured performances by Alicia Keys, Kirk Franklin, Anthony Hamilton, Jhené Aiko, and many others. Public figures such as Halle Berry, Morris Chestnut, Tiffany Haddish, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Angela Rye, and the Rev. Al Sharpton also made appearances during the special.

Anthony Anderson, Kelly Rowland, Terrence J., and Regina Hall hosted the virtual benefit to raise funds for grassroots organizations that offer COVID-19 related support to African Americans.

“Quite clearly, the pandemic has impacted Black and brown communities much more deeply than others,” said Newman. “So, we need to call that out and identify how we collectively can support and invest in the impoverished communities.

“This movement has been a really important moment for United Way to step back and examine where we’ve come up short in investing in and supporting the Black community. There’s always more that we should do and can do. So, we’re really trying to listen, learn, and identify those opportunities.”

Since the week after countywide stay-at-home orders, United Way of Greater Los Angeles has managed to raise more than $10 million to the Pandemic Relief Fund.

So far, grants have helped meet the needs of low-income entrepreneurs, low-income students and their families, and people who were denied access to federal support.

United Way of Greater Los Angeles plans to continue the Pandemic Relief Fund and focus on supporting community-based organizations that serve low-income families.

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