Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (BSRC) has launched a COVID-19 relief fund for Brooklyn residents who have suffered because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The community development organization will help 500 people with cash grants of up to $400 or gift cards for food and supplies.
BSRC has already distributed three grants this week. They went to a new mother, a 53-year-old woman who lost employment with the pandemic, and the family of 1-year-old shooting victim Davell Gardner Jr.
Recipient Celeste Blake, a mother of three including a newborn, said she had been feeling very down and was wondering how she would take care of her family.
"I had to cancel my baby shower because of COVID-19 which was going to help me with the needed clothes, food and other baby supplies," she said. "This came when I needed most."
BSRC President and CEO Colvn W. Grannum said the aim of the fund was to support the emergency needs and financial capacity building of Brooklynites, directly helping those who had been the most impacted by the pandemic.
"We can appreciate that digital banking is the future because we witnessed how the federal government streamlined the distribution of economic stimulus payments by utilizing these vehicles," Grannum said.
BSRC has partnered with Black-owned fintech MoCaFi (Mobility Capital Finance, Inc.) to distribute the funds through MoCaFi's mobile app, available on the Google Play and Apple App stores.
Grannum said it was important for BSRC to collaborate with a Black-owned institutions whose low-cost services targeted financially vulnerable communities.
"Many of our clients are facing unemployment, an inability to receive benefits, loss of health insurance, and any emergency savings."
Founder and CEO of MoCaFi Wole Coaxum said a 2019 Federal Reserve report showed 40% of all Americans would be unable to cover a $400 emergency expense, and COVID-19 had brought that figure into focus with many families now struggling to survive.
"Our collaboration advances the missions of both MoCaFi and Restoration as we seek to ensure that everyone has the ability to access affordable, quality banking products - a critical, foundational step for building financial stability."
Priority will be given to Central Brooklyn out-of-work restaurant employees and single mothers whose child care needs have made working impossible. Recipients will receive ongoing support through access to benefits, job support and financial coaching.
Families will also receive gift cards from Foodtown and diapers for newborns from the Mayor's Office. To access the fund visit www.restorationplaza.org