Earlier this month, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) released a new research tool, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor? The State of Local Funding for U.S. Immigrants and Refugees.” NCRP’s research shows that while immigrants and refugees represent 14 percent of the U.S. population, local philanthropic dollars invested in immigrant communities were just shy of 1 percent of total philanthropic investment dollars in 2017 and 2018.
COVID-19 has further deepened and exposed the inequities confronting immigrants in the U.S. Immigrants and refugees risk their lives each day, as they disproportionately represent the essential workers on the front lines of the pandemic. At this moment, providing flexible capital that offers immediate relief to service providers is critical, as is supporting immigrant advocacy groups in their fight for equitable policies and funding decisions that include immigrant workers’ perspectives. The vitality and recovery of our communities depend on everyone’s well-being—including that of immigrants.
NCRP’s announcement of the research tool quotes Monica Munn, Senior Director of the WES Mariam Assefa Fund: “At a time when federal support has excluded many immigrant communities, philanthropy must do more to ensure immigrants and refugees are able to weather the current crisis and thrive now and in the long term. Local funders play an essential role in filling gaps experienced by their communities, shoring up vital immigrant-serving organizations and ensuring equitable, inclusive recovery in their own backyards. NCRP’s new tool can help funders see where resources are deeply needed and – most importantly – take action.”
Ensuring that immigrant and refugee workers can thrive requires support from all types of funders, not just local philanthropy. We applaud recent action on the part of state and city government, such as the California Immigrant Resilience Fund and the Austin RISE Fund. Large institutional funders like the Open Society Foundations have stepped in and made commitments to support immigrants. Dollars can go even further with collaborative funding efforts like the Families and Workers Fund, which is directed toward serving low-wage workers who are hardest hit by COVID-19. For funders looking for ideas amid COVID-19, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR) offers recommendations for philanthropic action.
We encourage funders that work to tackle economic equity, community development, and social services for overlooked communities to think more intentionally about how their funding intersects with immigrant workers and communities. Efforts that lift up all members of a community, including immigrants, are essential to ensuring that no one is left behind, particularly in the wake of COVID-19.
The Fund is grateful to be in a position that allows us to direct dollars toward the immigrant communities that are so essential to the vitality and resilience of our economy and society. More importantly, as the U.S. looks to rebuild, we need equitable, inclusive recovery efforts that address the needs of immigrants and refugees. We look forward to continuing to learn from and collaborate with like-minded funders in pursuit of this goal.