jpmorgan Chase offices in new york city. Bumble Dee/shutterstock
jpmorgan Chase offices in new york city. Bumble Dee/shutterstock

As the pandemic first hit, commitments were coming in fast and furious from businesses and philanthropies alike. The dust has settled a bit after that initial wave of response, so it’s worth taking a look at how some institutions arrived at their decisions—and where the money’s going.

At the end of May, for example, JPMorgan Chase announced a $250 million global business and philanthropic initiative aiming to build an inclusive recovery from COVID-19 in hard-hit communities, boosting an initial $50 million commitment it made in March.

Two hundred million of that was set aside to help underserved small businesses and nonprofits struggling with mainstream borrowing options gain access to low-cost capital through community partners like CDFIs. The remaining $50 million was committed in the form of grants.

Funding was intended to support nonprofits that were caught between increased demand and decreased funding, and to complement existing government and community resources. To speed deployment, the bank focused solely on supporting partners it had worked with before and that had the capacity to make an immediate impact.

JPMC’s grants centered on solving problems facing small businesses, students and sidelined workers—and addressed neighborhood development and financial stability—with a clear eye on serving communities of color.

Janis Bowdler, president of the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, says the idea of an inclusive recovery guided its economic stability interventions, “It is clear that Black, Latinx and Asian communities in the U.S. are being disproportionately affected. In fact, many in these communities are facing the dual impact of unemployment and increased exposure due to a high concentration in jobs considered essential.”

In terms of geography, support landed in three regions: the D.C.-Baltimore corridor, Detroit and the Bay Area. Now that the bank’s U.S. funding decisions have been made, here’s a look at how funds are being distributed toward vulnerable populations.

  • In the Bay Area, JPMorgan Chase invested $750,000 in the East Bay Asian Development Corporation (EBLDC) to stabilize small businesses that anchor the community, as well as commercial tenants and local nonprofits. And a total of $1 million in funding went to partners like the Mission Asset Fund and the International Rescue Committee’s CDFI affiliate to meet the acute financial needs of refugees, immigrants and other economically vulnerable people.
  • The Latino Economic Development Center in the nation’s capitol, and the Harbor Bank of Maryland CDC in Baltimore received a total investment of $1 million to help underserved small businesses access capital and technical assistance. In neighboring Delaware, the bank granted $300,000 to the Delaware Technical Community College to help students stay enrolled and learn virtually.
  • In Detroit, $600,000 was deployed to help vulnerable small business owners tap emergency capital and technical assistance through the New Economy Initiative (NEI), along with commitments by other leaders like the Knight and Ford foundations. And JPMC supported laid-off workers with a half-million-dollar investment in the Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation (DESC), which helps locals apply for unemployment benefits, build job skills and connect with employers through the city’s Ready to Hire Program. Local nonprofits like ProsperUS and Focus: Hope also received grants totaling more than $150,000.
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