When stay-at-home orders were put in place, the Kansas City Fed was concerned about the potential effect of COVID-19 on community organizations and the low- and moderate-income people they serve. We decided we couldn’t wait for fall for our next Investment Connection events, what we describe as “Shark Tank” for front-line organizations. We moved the events to spring from fall and took them online. The webinars and proposals are a resource for funders interested in these Community Reinvestment Act-eligible proposals.

Front-line organizations began submitting proposals for Investment Connection in April. At the time, Johns Hopkins University of Medicine was reporting 43,900 confirmed cases and 762 deaths due to COVID-19 in the United States. We since have seen that the United States was on its way to an unprecedented health and economic crisis. Recent numbers have the United States leading the world with more than 6 million cases and approaching 200,000 deaths. A majority of people affected are of low and moderate income.

Hundreds of organizations submitted proposals while 40 presented online during five webinars that drew more than 500 participants.

Proposals came from hospitals and medical centers in need of an array of basic medical supplies. They came from food pantries and food banks working to alleviate hunger. Other organizations needed support to provide mental health services, capital for small businesses, housing for the homeless and support for renters and homeowners. Proposals also reflected the fact that the workforce is seeing unemployment greater than at the height of the Great Depression of the 1930s, with many losing health insurance along with their paychecks. What’s new today is the need, included in several proposals, to ensure digital inclusion for rural and urban communities disconnected from this basic infrastructure. 

Vetted proposals are available online

We have posted the recorded webinars on the main Investment Connection page at https://www.kansascityfed.org/community/investmentconnection. In addition, the funders link is available with proposals from organizations that presented during the webinars and hundreds of organizations that have active proposals seeking loans, investments/grants and services. Funders should add “disaster relief” as part of their search criteria when searching for proposals related to COVID-19.

Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard offered opening remarks at the May 5 Investment Connection webinar. She said, “The devastation is demanding that government, nonprofits, and other organizations think broadly and creatively to address the growing needs of households and businesses across the nation. The Community Reinvestment Act is a powerful tool to bring stakeholders together to find solutions that serve the needs of low- and moderate-income communities.”

The human suffering in our communities has increased since the May webinar series. The health crisis and economic crisis has taken a crushing toll on low- and moderate-income communities and communities of color in particular. 

Author

Ariel Cisneros

Senior Advisor

Ariel Cisneros is a Senior Advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City—Denver Branch. Cisneros focuses on the community and economic development informational needs of ban…