Rapid Response Funds Help Grantees Keep Up The Fight During COVID-19

by raymond on August 27, 2020

Since its founding in 1976, Liberty Hill has sought to build deep relationships with grassroots organizations and leaders in underserved communities and to support them and help them grow through good times and bad. These are the voices and organizations who have formed the backbone of progressive change in Los Angeles, and who are leading protests and essential conversations as we grapple with structural racism in our society.

But the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the accompanying public health restrictions, has exacerbated the existing inequities in Los Angeles, hitting our partners and their communities particularly hard. 

The groups that we work with to advance the cause of Youth Justice, part of our Agenda for a Just Future, are key partners, and they have played an important role in successfully fighting for the release of 100 youths from incarceration over the past five months to protect these children from coronavirus, even as these groups themselves have faced severe pressures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As our community partners work to protect young detainees from unsafe conditions and end youth incarceration as we know it, they need and deserve our support more than ever,” said Liberty Hill Foundation CEO Shane Goldsmith. “We must ensure that these organizations have the resources they need to survive this crisis and lead Los Angeles forward to a more just future.”

To that end, Liberty Hill quickly moved to raise donations for COVID-19 Rapid Response Grants to some of our grantee partners who have most sharply felt the pinch from the pandemic. These unrestricted grants, which amounted to $194,000 distributed to 48 organizations, were designed to provide maximum flexibility, allowing our partners to adjust their operations, provide aid to their communities, adopt new organizing techniques, and focus on their missions in the face of COVID-19.

Many of the groups that these grants have funded are focused on Youth Justice and ending youth incarceration as we know it. These organizations are not only small but also operate in parts of the county where they are virtually the only group organizing. If they were to disappear, there would be nobody to take their place. 

Their work is essential.

In the Antelope Valley, Pharoah Mitchell of the The Community Action League, reports that the stresses of the pandemic have intensified the needs of his already-underserved community.

“Even though COVID has happened, the racism hasn’t stopped, the anger hasn’t stopped. All these things have intensified,” said Mitchell. “Getting the Rapid Response funding has helped us to have peace rallies, to have press conferences, to get out to the community and let them know we’re still here. They have literally let us be able to rapidly respond to the issues.”

Liberty Hill and our community partners will not rest until we end youth incarceration as we know it in L.A. County, and we will fight to eliminate the conditions that push children into the criminal justice system by replacing the school-to-prison pipeline with support and services. 

We want to thank our generous donors and supporters who made this fund possible during this critical time. 

“Our partners in the field of Youth Justice have been leading the calls for racial equity and community investment long before these issues made national headlines, and they will continue to show the way forward,” said Goldsmith. “That's why we continue to support them and why we believe it’s so important for others to support them, too. We don’t just want our partners to survive the pandemic -- we want them to lead the recovery.”