United Way of Massachusetts Bay and The Boston Foundation announced the first of two rapid distributions of $570,000 to 12 community-based organizations from The Massachusetts Migrant Families Relief Fund. The fund was created last month in partnership to address the growing humanitarian crisis faced by migrants seeking asylum in Massachusetts and to support the local, trusted community-based organizations that have deployed an all-hands-on-deck effort to meet the essential needs of new arrivals in our region. The organizations receiving the first round of funding are focused in communities Including Attleboro, Boston, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Marlborough, Medford, Lynn, Lowell, Somerville, Waltham, Quincy, and Worcester, as well as state-wide organizations.
“The Massachusetts Migrant Families Relief Fund is playing a critical role in ensuring that families arriving in Massachusetts have their basic needs met,” said Governor Maura Healey. We’re grateful to The Boston Foundation and United Way of Massachusetts Bay for their leadership, and we thank the people and businesses of Massachusetts who stepped up to support this fund.”
Funding will support services such as English as a Second Language classes, legal services, assistance with health care needs, housing assistance, programming for youth, school enrollment assistance, assistance with filing for asylum or other immigration support, access to medical appointments, connecting refugee families with advocates and social supports at shelter sites and providing essential needs like food, diapers, clothing, and hygiene items.
Six organizations will receive grants of $75,000 each to sustain this work: Brazilian Workers Center, Everett Haitian Community Center, Immigrant Family Service Institute, La Colaborativa, MIRA Coalition and RIAN Immigrant Center. An additional six organizations will receive grants of $20,000: Agencia ALPHA, ARISE, Association of Haitian Women of Boston, English for New Bostonians, New American Center and The Literacy Center.
“For an immigrant in a foreign country, access to basic goods like food, diapers, clothing, or a ride to a medical appointment, can be of great concern,” said Dr. Geralde V. Gabeau, Executive Director of Immigrant Family Services Institute (IFSI-USA). “Through this fund, service providers like IFSI are able to provide newcomers with vital support that many of us take for granted. We are so grateful to everyone who contributed to the MA Migrant Families Relief Fund.”
The outpouring of community support has quickly mobilized more than $1.1 million for the Massachusetts Migrant Families Relief Fund, from corporate partners and foundations to individual donors. Lead partners include Barr Foundation, Klarman Family Foundation, Eastern Bank, Barbara and Amos Hostetter, Amazon, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Cornerstone Charitable Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee, John Hancock, Santander, The Boston Foundation and United Way of Central Massachusetts. WCVB-TV is also partnering to help raise awareness of the fund.
“Massachusetts has once again demonstrated a thoughtful and compassionate response to the dual crisis we have been experiencing impacting our housing and shelter systems as well as our trusted community-based organizations that have been giving everything they’ve got to help ensure everyone arriving in Massachusetts has their essential needs met,” said Bob Giannino, President and Chief Executive Officer at United Way of Massachusetts Bay. “Partners across government, nonprofit, corporate and philanthropic sectors have joined together to address this still-growing humanitarian crisis in a way that makes me proud to be a member of our Commonwealth.”
“The response from across Massachusetts to meet the needs of the thousands of families seeking safe haven and housing in our state is an inspiring and important element of our overall response to what is a tremendous ongoing need,” said M. Lee Pelton, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “This important partnership highlights the caring humanity of individuals, businesses, nonprofits and civic leaders here and can provide a blueprint for a continuing response.”
United Way and The Boston Foundation convened an implementation team to support trust-based, equitable grantmaking, align with emerging needs and opportunities, and center the voices of people most proximate to migrant families in Massachusetts. Working in partnership with community-based organizations and existing networks such as the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugees Advocacy (MIRA) Coalition’s New Arrivals Working Group, the statewide network of community foundations and United Ways, this team is reviewing current data, needs, opportunities, and conditions to inform grant allocations.
The Fund, hosted at unitedwaymassbay.org/migrantrelief, is continuing to accept donations from the public that will be used to provide grants to Massachusetts-based nonprofit organizations actively assisting migrant families, with a focus on supporting those with a demonstrated capacity for cultural and linguistic competency. To complement and enhance public funding, grants are focused on building organizational capacity to meet current demand for services and to coordinate with existing shelter sites providing temporary shelter to migrant families. Funding is intended to increase capacity for the following services:
• Provide general operating funds to local community-based organizations providing direct services on already-stretched budgets and staff resources and support their capacity to coordinate with shelter sites to meet demand for services.
.• Increase capacity to ensure individuals, children, and families have access to essential needs, such as temporary accommodations, food, clothing, diapers, hygiene items, and transportation.
• Support livelihood opportunities and assistance such as health screenings, translation services, legal assistance, work authorizations, ESOL classes, and other socio-economic and cultural integration supports with priority for communities with under-served shelter sites.
• Enhance community connectedness by supporting outreach that connects migrant families with opportunities for community integration, such as faith communities, schools, and mutual aid groups.
United Way of Massachusetts Bay and the Boston Foundation both have extensive experience managing emergency relief efforts, including the distribution of tens of millions of dollars collectively during the COVID-19 pandemic. During that crisis, United Way partnered with more than a dozen cities and towns, including Chelsea, Haverhill and Lynn, to provide local response efforts, as well as with the Department of Early Education and Care to distribute more than $20 million for school-community Summer Step Up programming, while the Boston Foundation distributed more than $18 million through its COVID-19 Response Fund. The Boston Foundation has also managed emergency funds in response to the Haiti earthquake in 2011, and after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017, as well as a fund providing targeted support for the city of Chelsea, Mass., during and after COVID.