“This is by far our biggest fundraising year on record,” LISC President and CEO Maurice Jones told CNN Business.
Jones says the estimated $2 billion donation total came from more than 25 Fortune 500 companies and far exceeded the $1 billion fundraising goal he set for himself back in the spring.
LISC says 75% of the funds it received this year went to organizations that support low-income housing residents, many of whom were furloughed or laid off due to Covid-19 issues. Roughly 15% of the charitable funds went to grant and loan programs supporting minority-owned small businesses.
The remaining 10% went to programs promoting education and health initiatives for low-income communities, including job training for laid-off individuals looking for more viable career paths.
Regan Brewer-Johnson serves as president of the Jane Addams Resource Corporation, a workforce development organization that trains underemployed workers for the manufacturing sector. She said her non-profit received $342,885 from LISC this year, which funded support services, such as financial education, work readiness and digital literacy.
“We’re seeing much higher numbers of people coming through our doors this year due to Covid,” Brewer-Johnson told CNN Business. “These are individuals and families that don’t necessarily have a family computer at home with access to the internet. For them, going through any kind of remote learning situation is really a huge challenge.”
Chicago resident Robert Grady, 34, a father of two young children, received emergency funding through JARC after he was laid off from his manufacturing job in July due to Covid-related downsizing. He’s been unemployed ever since and admits being discouraged about losing his job after securing it through JARC’s training programs in November 2019, following years of economic struggle that started during the Great Recession of 2008.
Since July, Grady said JARC has paid his rent on four separate occasions and even gave him a $1,000 Walmart gift card to pay for household needs for his family.
“If they didn’t give me help, I probably would have been in a shelter or something with my children,” Grady said. “I try not to think about it.”
Last year, the commission received $190,000 from LISC to fund its “Bridges to Career Opportunity” program, which helps recipients pursue more viable career paths. In 2020, LISC also provided $20,000 in Covid-19 economic aid to the commission’s clients.
Stephanie Murphy, vice president of workforce and economic development for SDHC, says the funds her group received from LISC helped to pay past due utility bills for people who’ve lost their jobs and buy laptops for children doing remote learning from home while local schools were shutdown.
“I saw some electricity bills that were over $1,000,” Murphy said. “Some of the problems we saw, schools ran out of laptops. Some of the laptops given out by the schools didn’t work.”
“This requires faithfulness over a long time to have real transformative impact,” he said. “It can’t just be 2020. This has to be a new chapter.”