In the coming weeks, OSI-Baltimore and Baltimore City will launch the COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Program to provide much-needed support to residents of Baltimore’s marginalized communities, who are most impacted by COVID-19 and yet often overlooked. The program, profiled this week in the Sun, will use $6 million of city funds to provide $400 debit cards (pictured) for up to 15,000 city residents to use on household needs.
OSI has partnered with 12 community-based organizations, selected based on their track-records of serving communities and populations disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, that will help identify and enroll city residents most in need of support. These groups will prioritize underserved populations, including returning citizens, immigrant families, people experiencing homelessness, and youth and young adults between the ages of 16-24 who are out of work and out of school. Community-based partners will also connect residents to a range of other supplementary services and resources, including job placement support and housing and rental assistance. OSI-Baltimore’s parent organization, Open Society Foundations (OSF), has launched similar efforts in more than 20 cities.
“OSI is proud of this innovate public-private partnership that will put much-needed resources into the hands of Baltimore residents,” says OSI Director Danielle Torain. “We hope that it can become a model for further collaboration on a wide range of efforts.”
OSI will not receive any city funds and has leveraged an additional $320,000, including $280,000 in OSI funds and $40,000 from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, to support the community-based organizations on the ground, and has also contributed extensive in-kind support in the form of months of staff and consultant time to recruit and train community partners, negotiate contracts with the city, community-based partners, and vendors, and coordinate with our many local and national partners. OSI has also launched a process evaluation to document learnings from the initiative. Insights from the process evaluation will be imparted to public, private, and community partners upon the initiative’s completion with the goal of informing future public-private partnerships and emergency response efforts in Baltimore.
Once the program has launched, Baltimore City residents looking to enroll can connect with one of 12 community-based organizations that will check eligibility and enroll eligible residents. They will be listed here: www.bmorechildren.com/covid-card