Funding Direct Cash Initiatives

Brief

Funding Direct Cash Initiatives

How and Why DC’s THRIVE East of the River Project Quickly Financed Cash Transfers for Ward 8 Residents in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
September 10, 2021

Abstract

After the COVID-19 pandemic struck the US and the District of Columbia went into lockdown in March 2020, four community-based organizations moved swiftly to assist households in Ward 8 (a predominantly Black, low-income area of the city  that was hit hard by the pandemic). Through their Thrive East of the River partnership, the organizations provided residents with $5,500 and food and household goods and helped them connect with stabilizing social services and government cash relief (e.g., federal stimulus payments and unemployment insurance). THRIVE is privately funded, and as of late April 2021, the partners had raised more than $4 million from foundations, corporations, and individual donors. We interviewed THRIVE donors, both individual and institutional, about their decision to donate to THRIVE. Donors told us that their robust and swift response was motivated primarily by the confluence of three factors: the context created by the pandemic and the murder of George Floyd, the concept of giving cash directly, and the strength of the partnership that underlies THRIVE. The pandemic has spurred shifts in philanthropic and individual giving, but the extent to which these changes are permanent varies. This brief provides insights into the fundraising behind the growth in cash transfer programs and looks to the future of cash transfer programs across the country.

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