Over 26 million Americans have filed for unemployment since the coronavirus pandemic reached the United States six weeks ago. While the CARES Act has increased how much unemployment benefits pay out and expanded eligibility to include gig workers and the self-employed, the system has been clogged up due to the unprecedented number of filers.
There have even been reports of people calling their state’s unemployment office hundreds or even thousands of times without getting a live person on the line. Others have been waiting for weeks on end for the funds to finally show up in their account.
Stimulus checks paying up to $1,200 per adult have helped tide people over. But 78% of Americans were already living paycheck to paycheck before the crisis, and according to a recent survey conducted by MONEY, the majority of stimulus check recipients say their payments won’t last them for more than a few weeks.
Luckily, many nonprofits and industry groups have banded together to create funds that give additional financial assistance directly to workers in need.
We’ve compiled a list below of 25 funds available for different types of industry employees nationwide. (FYI, many more funds could be available where you live or how you make a living; to search for more specific resources, especially those providing grants for medical emergencies, check out websites like grantspace.org and candid.org, which have more comprehensive fund lists.)
Be aware that some of the fund applications require extensive documentation, including tax documents and banking information, in order to verify you are truly in need and are an appropriate recipient for the money. But rest assured these are all legitimate operations: Each fund here is either from a registered non-profit organization or an established labor union. And if you happen to be in a good place financially and can help out, they pretty much all will happily accept your donations.
Arts and Entertainment
Artists Relief is giving out $5,000 grants to “artists facing dire financial emergencies due to COVID-19.” According to their website, applicants must be at least 21 years old and able to prove that they are practicing artists experiencing “dire financial emergencies” due to the pandemic. They must also provide a W9 and a Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.
All artists who have been directly impacted by event cancellations and venue closures due to the coronavirus are able to apply for financial support through the Artists Relief Project, provided by Artly World. The funds are distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis and applicants must fill out a Google form application. Applicants must be able to demonstrate that they’re an artist by providing a resume or website link.
The Arts and Culture Leaders of Color Emergency Fund is providing one-time micro-grants of $200 through crowdfunding efforts to those who self-identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) pursuing careers in the arts or arts administration, who are in need of immediate financial assistance.
The Carnegie Fund for Authors provides emergency grants to authors who have published at least one book by a mainstream publisher and have demonstrated the need for emergency funding through documentation. Applicants must register and apply online.
The Dramatist Guild Foundation is providing COVID-19 Emergency Relief for playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists. Applicants must fill out a form using Submittable and will be processed based on the severity of need.
The Foundation for Contemporary Arts fund provides one-time $1,500 grants to experimental artists who have “been impacted by the economic fallout from postponed or canceled performances and exhibitions.” Applicants must be individual artists who can show proof that they’ve had an engagement postponed or cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Fund is available to eligible members for immediate food, housing, and healthcare assistance. Applicants must provide proof of membership and their last month’s bank statement, among other information.
The Actors Fund Emergency Financial Assistance fund is available to all people who work in entertainment, not just actors. To be eligible, applicants need to provide proof of “entertainment industry earnings over $6,500 for three out of the last five years” or “three years of recent dance earnings of at least $2,000 a year” for dancers. Additional application requirements include proof of the past five years of earnings, and a current lease, rent, or mortgage statement.
The PBA COVID-19 Relief Fund is providing one-time $500 electronic gift cards through a lottery system to beauty professionals including cosmetologists, barbers, hair stylists, massage therapists, makeup artists, nail techs and more. Applicants must fill out a form detailing their job, their income and current assets, and license information. Funds are limited based on the number of donations.
The Horst Rechelbacher Foundation is providing relief grants of $1,000 to be distributed directly to applicants. Applicants must submit proof of licensure, a driver’s license or passport, a copy of their W-2, 1040, or 1099, and specify their place of employment. Grants are prioritized based on the date their unemployment began, 2019 salary, and number of dependents. To qualify, applicants must be a U.S. resident living in a state or county where non-essential businesses are closed, and must currently not be earning an income.
The National Domestic Workers Alliance Coronavirus Care Fund provides $400 in funds to domestic workers via a Visa gift card. At the moment, the fund is only available to domestic workers who are “participants in activities of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), NDWA chapters, affiliate organizations, and circles or who were NDWA dues-paying members or Alia users prior to March 16, 2020.” The NDWA says it will open up the fund to all domestic workers once funds allow it.
Farming and Agriculture
Justice for Migrant Women and other farmworker-serving organizations have teamed up to raise funds for the immediate needs of the estimated two to three million farmworkers across the United States. The funds will be distributed through local partner organizations to farm workers.
Freelancers and Gig Workers
The Freelancer’s Union’s fund is offering financial assistance up to $1,000 to independent workers to cover lost income and essential expenses including food, and utilities payments. Anyone who has “primarily earned income through freelance work for at least one year” and has had their income directly impacted by COVID-19 is eligible to apply.
The Workers Lab has created The Workers Fund to address the financial needs of gig and low-earning contract workers in dire need of immediate cash assistance. The Workers Lab will be distributing funds via Canary, a “vehicle for getting cash to verified applicants quickly.” To identify those in need, they have teamed up with Steady, an app that helps people find jobs.
Health and Fitness
Reclamation Ventures, an investing fund for wellness entrepreneurs, is providing grants up to $2,500 to wellness spaces and instructors that represent “underestimated” communities including people who “identify as a person of color, LGBTQ+, disabled, or anyone who has been impacted by the criminal justice system.” Applicants can apply via a Google form.
Restaurants and Hospitality
The Greg Hill Foundation, in partnership with Samuel Adams beer, is providing grants for laid-off restaurant workers. Applicants must be full-time employees (can be multiple restaurants that add up to 30+ hours a week) who have been employed for at least three months and prove it via their last two full-time pay stubs. This fund is available in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Vermont.
The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation is giving away $500 grants to individual U.S.-based restaurant employees facing hardship who have worked part- or full-time in the restaurant industry for “at least 90 days in the past year.” To be eligible, you must have had a primary source of income from restaurant work, had your wages decreased or lost your job on or after March 10, 2020, and demonstrate an immediate financial need.
The USBG National Charity Foundation is providing “supplemental emergency aid” between $150 to $500. Applicants must be bartenders or the spouse or child of a bartender who has experienced an emergency hardship and lacks “the necessities of life, including financial, physical, mental, or emotional well being” as a result of the hardship. Applicants also must be able to provide tangible documentation of the catastrophe or hardship.
The Restaurant Workers Community Foundation, in partnership with the Southern Smoke Emergency Relief program, is providing need-based relief for restaurant workers across the United States. Applicants must apply through the Southern Smoke Application Form. This application is fairly lengthy and must include a statement of need, employment history, copies of previous paychecks, and possibly doctor’s bills and photos of damages, among other requirements.
The UNITE HERE Education and Support Fund provides help for hospitality workers hit hard by the crisis. Eligible workers include those who work at theme parks, sports and event venues, and hotels and convention centers. The fund will help cover the cost of hospital workers’ health insurance, utilities, food and rent, replacing wages, and retraining for new jobs.
Another Round, Another Rally is offering $500 relief grants if you are a “chef, server, bartender, dishwasher, sommelier, manager or someone who holds any other type of hospitality role” who lost your job or had your hours cut due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Applicants must fill out a Google form and those who receive the grants will get their money via Venmo, Cash App, Zelle, or Paypal.
Non-Industry Specific Funds
One Fair Wage is providing cash assistance for tipped workers. This includes restaurant workers, car service drivers, delivery workers, and personal service workers. To apply, simply fill out the form provided. Applicants will receive a follow-up phone call from an OFW organizer.
Humanity Forward (former presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s non-profit organization) is giving out both one-time and recurring basic income payments to those most impacted by the coronavirus. Although Yang touted his monthly $1,000 universal basic income (UBI) plan during his presidential campaign, it is unclear how much money will be distributed per month. through this fund Their first initiative is being rolled out for those living in the Bronx, NY, and plans call to roll out more initiatives in the coming weeks.
The Betancourt Macias Family Scholarship Foundation is providing emergency financial relief to undocumented immigrants impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. They have currently disbursed the funds from their GoFundMe, but will continue to fundraise to create more financial relief. Applicants must fill out a simple Google form to be eligible.
The Mission Asset Fund is providing eligible immigrant families with $500 grants to go towards immediate financial needs. The funds are raised on a rolling basis. To be eligible, applicants must not be eligible for a CARES Act Recovery Rebate (coronavirus stimulus check) from the federal government, must have earned less than $99,000 in 2019 (or live in a household with total income below $198,000), and must have experienced an income disruption due to the coronavirus.