By Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Tuesday that the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City has raised $54.5 million for the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund created to help frontline healthcare workers and New Yorkers hardest hit by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The bulk of funds were raised through public-private partnerships but roughly 9,500 people from across the country have made individual donations between $5 and $5,000 since it was first launched in early March, according to Executive Director of the Mayor’s Fund Toya Willaford.
“No relief effort in the history of this administration has ever seen this level of grassroots support,” said Willaford who sat six feet away from the mayor during Tuesday’s press conference. “We’ve come a long way since March, but we’ve finished yet.”
Funds allotted for frontline healthcare workers go towards a city’s initiatives like NYC Healthcare Heroes and Food Heros which create care packages filled with household cleaning products and personal hygiene products for hospital workers working back to back shifts and meal deliveries for EMS, morgue and sanitation workers. Some of the funds have also been given to the city’s public hospital system to purchase personal protective equipment.
Donations to the mayor’s fund also go towards the city’s Restaurant Revitalization Program which provides short-term payroll support for a select 100 restaurants that pledge to pay employees $15 minimum wage plus tips within 5 years of receiving city help. Selected restaurants must also commit to help provide 53,000 meals over the next 8 weeks to New Yorkers in neighborhoods hardest hit by the pandemic.
The Immigrant Emergency Relief Effort, a partnership between the mayor’s office and the Open Society Foundation, and the Immigrant COVID-19 Burial Assistance Program also receive financial support from the COVID-19 Relief Fund.
To help youth and families through the crisis, the Mayor’s Fund has raised $6.8 million in philanthropic support for the Summer Youth Employment Program which seeks to engage 35,000 young people in summer activities.
First Lady Chirlane McCary, also present at the press conference, revealed that the city will offer micro-grants to domestic violence survivors to help mitigate some of the “safety, economic and housing challenges” exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic through the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund.
“If the last six months are any indication of what’s up ahead we know that this is not going to be easy,” McCray told reporters.