By Emmalyn Shaw
In six weeks, the United States shifted from a 50-year-low unemployment rate to likely the highest one since the Great Depression. No economic downturn has happened as rapidly as this one triggered through COVID-19, and our most vulnerable Americans are suffering the greatest blow.
We’re pleased that the US government acted fast by approving a stimulus package that will send direct payments to millions of individuals and families, but we know from the collective experience of Flourish’s portfolio companies and our investment team, which advocates for Americans who live paycheck to paycheck, that one $1,200 relief payment is simply not enough. What’s more, speed is of the essence. Government relief payments may not reach Americans in time, or at all. If individuals do not have direct electronic deposit arranged with the IRS, the Brookings Institution estimates that it could take another month or more for paper checks to arrive.
Given both the time lag to distribute such support and the many who will not be eligible, there is a need for a broad range of actors — across the ecosystem — to help supplement government relief efforts in the short term. At Flourish, we decided to act creatively and quickly. We agreed to contribute $1 million to Fresh EBT and GiveDirectly’s initiative to deliver $10 million immediately in the form of $1,000 payments to American families on food stamps.