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Responding to the COVID-19 Crisis: Providing Direct Cash Assistance to DC Residents

Join Sarah Rosen Wartell, president of the Urban Institute, for the next installment in Urban’s conversation series, Evidence to Action. During this virtual event, George A. Jones, CEO of Bread for the City, Tonia Wellons, president and CEO of the Greater Washington Community Foundation, and Mary Bogle, principal research associate at the Urban Institute, will join Wartell to discuss how the THRIVE East of the River program’s direct cash and food assistance are helping DC residents weather the pandemic.

The COVID-19 crisis exacerbated existing economic insecurity around the country, and DC's Ward 8 has felt these effects particularly acutely. In response to this spike in employment and income losses, four DC nonprofits—the 11th Street Bridge Park (a project of Building Bridges across the River), Bread for the City, the Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative, and Martha’s Table—came together with local funders this spring to provide direct cash payments and grocery assistance directly to Ward 8 residents. This conversation will explore what people living on low incomes in Ward 8 are experiencing amid the pandemic and provide context for those experiences, especially the history of structural racism and segregation in Washington, DC. Jones, Wellons, and Bogle will share what the evidence says about how direct cash and food assistance can make a difference, and they will explore the implications for policy and practice in DC and around the country.

Urban is bringing evidence-based insights to this crisis, focusing on solutions that advance equity and upward mobility. Each week, Urban experts will speak with changemakers from the government, philanthropic, and private sectors about the knowledge they need to help us respond to the crisis, recover, and thrive.

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  • Mary Bogle, Principal Research Associate, Urban Institute
  • George A. Jones, CEO, Bread for the City
  • Tonia Wellons, President and CEO, Greater Washington Community Foundation
  • Sarah Rosen Wartell, President, Urban Institute (moderator)


The Evidence to Action conversation series elevates the voices of leaders and changemakers responding to, recovering from, and building resilience during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The Urban Institute was built for this moment. We answer tough questions with unbiased, rigorous research and evidence-based solutions. For 50 years, we have studied what it takes to strengthen social safety net programs, dismantle structural racism, protect workers and families, and build community resilience. Using advanced analytics, data science, technology, and decades of expertise, we equip changemakers with the facts and insights they need to accelerate solutions.

Send any inquiries regarding this event to [email protected].


Date & Time Thursday, July 23, 2020

  • Principal Research Associate
  • President