99,000+ Women and Families Helped by WFCO COVID Response
New Report Captures Impact of WFCO Relief Fund
When COVID-19 descended upon Colorado in March 2020, it became evident quickly that the economic fallout of COVID-19 would exacerbate gender, racial, and class inequities that WFCO has worked hard during our 33 years to help women overcome. Countless articles have pointed out the high rates of women’s unemployment, and a report released in November 2020 by the Bell Policy Center confirmed the disproportionate effects of COVID-19 on Colorado women.
Recognizing WFCO’s unique position to identify women’s needs during the pandemic and our knowledge of organizations directly serving women throughout our state, The Colorado Health Foundation invested $500,000 in WFCO to launch the Women and Families of CO (WFCO) Relief Fund.
Our research and evaluation partner, OMNI Institute, prepared a report for our community on the reach and impact of our WFCO Relief Fund.
WFCO’s COVID response by the numbers
In March, we permitted our WAGES (Women Achieving Greater Economic Security) grantee partners to convert their WAGES funding into general operating dollars to best meet the needs of the women they serve during the pandemic.
Then, we rapidly and responsively distributed general operating grants to 501(c)(3) and other tax-exempt organizations, including our WAGES partners, that are addressing the emergency needs of Colorado women and their families who are most impacted by COVID-19. Below is a summary of the WFCO Relief Fund impact:
- Total grantmaking dollars: $782,500
- Total organizations receiving funding: 102
- Direct-service organizations: 85
- Policy advocacy organizations: 9
- Women-led social ventures: 8
- Individuals and families served: 99,353
- Infants and toddlers supported: 23,711
- Colorado counties supported: 64
First round of COVID response grants made in April
Grantmaking targeted organizations serving women in caregiving roles, women in rural communities, women experiencing homelessness or escaping domestic violence, women business owners, transgender women, and more. By late April, WFCO had issued 66 grants to organizations that would:
- Help women afford to stay in their homes and feed their families by supporting rental and utilities assistance programs as well as food and meal distribution efforts
- Help women access child care to continue their essential work during the crisis and more women can return to work in every sector
- Ensure families with young children can access necessary supplies, such as diapers, wipes, and formula
- Provide safe shelter, food, and other essentials for women and children escaping domestic violence
- Trust women with cash assistance to meet their most pressing needs, including undocumented women who cannot access federal relief funds
- Provide reproductive, mental, and behavioral health resources
- Help women stay connected and supported through technology, with efforts to help older women increase social interactions through technology, connect women in rural communities to internet and build IT skills, and expand telehealth services
Second round of COVID response grants made in June
Within weeks, several more generous gifts from individuals, corporations, and funders had grown the size of the fund, including a $50,000 grant from Rose Community Foundation and another $250,000 grant from The Colorado Health Foundation. We issued a second round of 42 grants in late June to organizations helping women not only meet their basic needs, but also working on economic rebuilding for a more equitable future, which included:
- Strengthening the early care and education (ECE) sector and child care resources for school-age children in Colorado to allow more women to access child care
- Providing needed operational support to businesses to address cash flow challenges, apply for COVID-related grants and loans, and to transition to remote services
- Supporting basic needs of families of local business owners to keep businesses operational
- Providing reproductive and other women’s health services
- Improving and accelerating economic opportunities for women of color
- Advancing intersectional research to understand the economic opportunities and challenges for women across our state.
Our work is not done
Though WFCO has issued the grants from our WFCO Relief Fund, our work to help women recover from COVID-19 is not done. The lingering effects of the pandemic continues to cause serious setbacks for women’s economic mobility. In fact, between September and October 2020, more than 800,000 women left the workforce. This is due primarily to caregiving responsibilities for remote learning and the gender pay gap within households. Unfortunately, the pandemic-induced “she-cession” has increased the gender wage gap by 5%, according to a report by the National Bureau of Economic Research. It could take 20 years to close that gap, the report found.
Special Legislative Session
We appreciate our state leadership’s efforts in the special legislative session to meet Coloradan’s needs in the pandemic. We have learned from our grantees that basic needs assistance is still required to help women and families across the state stay housed and fed. Essentials like child care need to be a staple in our state’s economic rebuilding. In the special session, which started November 30, 2020, WFCO is supporting four bills that will dedicate resources to priorities for women and families impacted by COVID-19:
- HB20B-1002: Emergency Relief Programs For Child Care Sector
- HB20B-1003: Food Pantry Assistance Grant Program
- SB20B-002: Housing and Direct COVID Emergency Assistance
- SB20B-003: Money for Energy Utility Bill Payment Assistance
We have shared the relief fund report with the current and incoming members of the Colorado General Assembly to help inform their work and prioritize women in the current special legislative session and the upcoming 2021 legislative session. We hope you, too, will find the information in the report helpful as we continue on this journey to advance equity together.