April 29, 2020  |  Austin COVID19 In the News Uncategorized

Family Independence Initiative Helping Provide Direct Financial Support in Travis County, Texas for COVID-19 Relief

Organization is working with community groups to distribute $2 million in relief funds

AUSTIN, TEXAS (April 29, 2020) Family Independence Initiative (FII) has received $2 million from the City of Austin Equity Office to distribute direct financial support to residents facing financial hardship because of COVID-19. It’s part of the $15 million Relief in a State of Emergency (RISE) Fund approved by Austin City Council. Eligible households will receive one-time financial support of $2,000 beginning the week of May 4. 

To ensure the funds get to families hardest hit by the pandemic, FII is teaming up with nearly 30 local community groups who work with the most vulnerable communities in Travis County. The partner organizations selected are well-positioned and in relationship with the communities that were highlighted by Austin City Council to receive emergency direct financial support. 

“We are partnering with small grassroots organizations who have historically worked to advance racial equity and have direct relationships with marginalized communities who have been impacted by COVID-19 and/or will not benefit from the CARES Act,” said Ivanna Neri, FII partnerships director. “Those populations include formerly incarcerated people, LGBTQ+ communities, domestic violence victims, immigrants and citizens who work in the cash economy.” 

Some of the organizations include:  

“With 47% of AVANCE-Austin parents losing their income due to COVID-19, $2,000 is the difference between parents being able to meet their children’s most basic needs and not knowing how they will take care of their families this month,” said Cristina Garza, executive director of AVANCE Austin.

To be eligible, families must: live in the Austin-Travis County limits, be experiencing a financial hardship because of COVID-19, be ineligible for/underserved by the federal stimulus or be at or below 80% of the median family income for Austin-Travis County (individuals: $50,000; 4-person household: $70,000). The community partners selected have been on the front lines serving communities before this pandemic, which has uniquely positioned them to identify families who meet these criteria. Families will receive the funds through FII’s technology platform, UpTogether, which deposits the money directly in their bank accounts.

Last month, FII partnered with Stand Together to launch #GiveTogetherNow, a national rapid-relief fund to get financial assistance to families impacted by COVID-19. #GiveTogetherNow is a joint effort of more than 250 nonprofit and community groups across the country and is supported by major philanthropic organizations and leaders, including Stand Together Foundation, Blue Meridian Partners, Google.org, DeVos Family Foundation, Stripe and Schultz Family Foundation. To date, the campaign has generated more than $40 million dollars for families. FII’s partnership with the City of Austin Equity Office is a part of this national initiative.

“There is nothing more empowering than to use our intellect and our resources to give people affected by COVID-19 a way up and out of this financial devastation. This is a safety-net system that will not create dependency, but help to lift people up in this time of dire need. Saffron Trust Women’s Foundation believes when you give people financial assistance without conditions attached, they use it to buy goods and services that improve their lives,” said Phyllis Everette, executive director of Saffron Trust.  “Austin is known as one of the most economically segregated cities in the country. FII has built a platform to help get direct financial assistance quickly to those who need it the most. I’m glad the City of Austin has partnered with them.”

100 percent of the $2 million will go to families.


About Family Independence Initiative

Family Independence Initiative trusts and invests directly in people living with low incomes so they can work individually and collectively to achieve prosperity. Through our technology platform, UpTogether, people experiencing poverty can build and strengthen their social networks and access unrestricted financial transfers so they can support each other in accomplishing their goals.

On average, households in which Family Independence Initiative invests increase their incomes by more than 20 percent and their personal savings by ten times over a two-year period. Learn more at fii.org.

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