California Immigrant Resilience Fund Announces $10M Challenge Grant

Monday, May 11, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR) today announced a new $10 million challenge grant from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation toward the California Immigrant Resilience Fund. The Fund, launched on April 15, 2020 in partnership with California philanthropy, seeks to raise $50 million to provide cash assistance to undocumented Californians and their families who are ineligible for COVID-19 federal relief and most state safety-net programs. The Fund was set up as part of a public-private partnership with Governor Gavin Newsom, who announced a separate $75 million state-financed immigrant relief fund, the first of its kind in the nation.  

The Fund has raised $13.1 million to date from institutional donors, major individual donors, and the general public. Today’s additional $10 million matching grant was made to encourage others to give generously and help the Fund reach its $50 million goal.

“Despite their vital contributions to our country’s economy, undocumented residents are ineligible for support from the federal government during this crisis,” said Stacy Schusterman, Chair of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. “Our Foundation believes that those of us with the resources have the obligation to step up and help those who need it most right now. In addition to support we are giving to US citizens through GiveDirectly and other organizations, we are proud to support the California Immigrant Resilience Fund to provide direct cash assistance to people who are undocumented so they can meet their greatest needs, and we hope others will join in providing support too.”

The California Immigrant Resilience Fund partners with nearly 40 immigrant-serving organizations that are committed to equity and justice and have a solid track record and trust in their communities. With the Fund’s support, these local partners disburse cash assistance to hard-to-reach and underserved undocumented immigrants, including farmworkers, workers in other low-wage sectors, and immigrants who are indigenous, LGBTQI, and/or living with disabilities, among many others. The Fund’s local partners complement other relief funds in their regions, including nonprofit organizations contracting with the State of California to provide cash assistance under the Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants Project. The Fund’s local partners are now reviewing applications and disbursing an initial round totaling over $3.4 million, representing donations received as of April 30. Future rounds of cash assistance will be distributed as quickly as possible once pledged contributions have been received. Many of these local partners already have long waiting lists.

“GCIR is deeply grateful for the leadership and generosity of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and all of our contributors who have stepped up to support our undocumented friends and neighbors whose immigration status puts them in danger of hunger, homelessness, and extreme economic hardship,” said Daranee Petsod, President of Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees. “How we show up for this community will not only support immigrants in this moment but will define how resilient California is and will be in recovering, rebuilding, and moving forward after this pandemic.”

The California Immigrant Resilience Fund provides a lifeline to many immigrants (their names and identifying information have been replaced to protect their privacy):

Silvia is a Guatemalan immigrant who has lived in the Bay Area for 15 years. Having recently left a domestic abuse situation, she and her two children, ages 9 and 12, were building a new life for themselves. Despite limited literacy, Silvia was able to support her family as a housecleaner but has not had any income since mid-March. Emergency cash assistance helped Silvia cover part of her rent during this difficult time.

Although in her 60s, Norma must still work to support herself and her family in the Philippines. She most recently worked as caregiver at an assisted-living residence that experienced a COVID-19 outbreak. After contracting the virus herself, Norma could no longer work and lost her income as she does not have paid sick leave. Norma also had to find and pay for a room to self-isolate to avoid putting at risk others with whom she shared an overcrowded apartment.

Amit came to the United States five years ago to escape political violence in Punjab. He worked in a restaurant until it closed due to the pandemic. As an undocumented worker, Amit was already in a precarious economic situation, not having been paid minimum wage nor for all the hours he worked. Emergency cash assistance helped Amit cover rent for an apartment he shares with other undocumented workers in similar situations.

A farmworker in Coachella Valley, Ana lost her job since the pandemic and struggles to support herself and her young son. With limited Spanish and English proficiency, she would not have been able to receive emergency cash assistance without an organization that could communicate with her in her native language of Mixteco.

Donations to the California Immigrant Resilience Fund can be made at

GCIR oversees the Fund, bringing more than 30 years of experience as the nation’s only immigrant-focused philanthropic network. The Tides Foundation acts as the fiscal manager for the Fund, helping to receive, disburse, and manage these critical resources to get them to the undocumented Californians hit hardest by this unprecedented crisis.

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GCIR galvanizes philanthropy to advance immigrant justice and belonging. In the past four years, GCIR has worked with California philanthropy to deploy $327 million in response to anti-immigrant federal policies. GCIR co-founded and managed the UndocuFund for Disaster Relief in Sonoma County, which raised over $7 million to provide direct cash assistance to almost 8,000 undocumented immigrants and their families who were affected by the 2017 wildfires. Nationally, since 2012, the organization has worked with funders in 19 states to deploy nearly $80 million to build local capacity for immigration legal services, advocacy, and organizing.