April 9, 2020

Projects Pivot in Response to COVID-19

We’re all reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, so many of Community Partners projects included. Cancelled contracts, school closures, and many, many fundraising and event plans scuttled have caused enormous harm to many of our projects. It will also mean fewer important supportive services to many who need them most. If you’d like to support the work of our projects or one project in particular, you can visit the project directory on our website anytime.

Still, crises can also bring opportunity. Many projects are pivoting creatively to online gatherings and programs, finding broader audiences, or establishing new partnerships. Here are a few examples. We’ll continue to share these stories of resilience in coming weeks.

The Dinner Party, which brings 20- and 30-somethings who’ve experienced loss together over shared meals, has released a virtual care guidebook with suggestions on how to reach out to one’s community, facilitation tips, conversation-starters, and guidelines for successful online gatherings. They’ve also launched a virtual care series for those processing grief and more than half of their tables are continuing to meet virtually.

Keren Taylor, project leader for WriteGirl, had to cancel the organization’s big annual fundraiser, but is working to mount an online silent auction instead. In the meantime, pivoting to online workshops and one-on-one mentoring has been highly successful, with the first workshop hosting the largest number of participants in the organization’s history. Learn more about how they’re doing more than just coping.

Book Club for Kids, a free podcast that features middle schoolers reviewing books and interviewing authors, has experienced a 130% uptick in traffic to their website in the past couple of weeks. With parents and teachers hungry for curriculum and learn-at-home opportunities, project leader Kitty Felde has hired a curriculum writer to produce more content. Head to their website to find book recommendations, curriculum, and how easy it is for kids to participate on the show.

Alhambra Source has been awarded a $5,000 grant through the Facebook Journalism Project (FJP) to support unexpected costs associated with reporting on the health crisis in their community.

Thanks to some creative matchmaking by program liaison Cynthia Freeman, the leaders of The Civics Center and New Ground are exploring a potential partnership. Where The Civics Center needed more volunteers for their voter registration drives, the young fellows in one of New Ground’s program need a new service focus. More details to follow.

The data scientists and statisticians at Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG), whose work usually applies to assessing mortality caused by deliberate violence, are turning their attention to analyzing the true number of COVID-19 positive cases in the US.

Libros Schmibros, the free lending library in Boyle Heights, has come up with a creative way to continue getting books to people and keep their staff working: they’re offering mystery book bags to those who request them, leaving them on their stoop for pick-ups.

The Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society is holding virtual forums for both small businesses and nonprofits, a way to share Dr. Jones’ knowledge about coping with disaster. The next event for nonprofits is April 13.

Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap worked to advocate for the needs of the most vulnerable people during negotiations for the recent CARES Act and continues to monitor the impact. Members are staying on top of what’s pending, what’s missing, and what they’ll need to be advocating for going forward.

Healing Dialogue and Action, the group that brings together those wounded by violence, hosted a virtual Day of Empathy.

Building Forever Families Initiative’s university partner is paying for zoom accounts so that parents and children can have visitations by teleconference.

Center for Council is hosting donation-based Social Connection Councils every Tuesday and Thursday evening for the foreseeable future to foster community in isolation.

The Wildwoods Foundation is curating a newsletter each week with activities in nature and inside the home for parents and children who may be experiencing cabin fever.

Safe Parking LA was highlighted in the New York Times for providing a safe space and amenities for those experiencing homelessness during the pandemic.

Topanga Women’s Circle has suspended their furniture donation and home set-ups for the time being, but members are sending gift cards to families in low income and transitional housing.

The Arts Activation Fund that we administer for the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs’ has turned into an Arts Emergency Relief Fund for artists with immediate need.

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