The LGBTQ social services organizations Us Helping Us, Wanda Alston Foundation, and Casa Ruby were among 77 D.C. nonprofit groups to receive city grants last week totaling $3.6 million to help protect vulnerable populations from the coronavirus epidemic.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser approved the grants under the city’s HOPE Community Grants program, which is funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES Act, approved by Congress earlier this year.
“These HOPE grants acknowledge and support the critical role community organizations play in ensuring Washingtonians have the information and resources they needed to protect themselves and others,” Bowser said in a July 1 statement announcing the grants.
“I have said many times that we will get through this together, and I am grateful for all the nonprofits that are stepping up to stop the spread of the virus and keep D.C. residents safe,” the mayor said.
Us Helping Us, which provides services to the African-American LGBTQ community, and Casa Ruby, which provides emergency housing and social and health related services to LGBTQ people, each received grants totaling $50,000. The Wanda Alston Foundation, which provides housing and programming for LGBTQ homeless youth, received a grant totaling $41,800, according to its executive director June Crenshaw.
Us Helping Us Executive Director DeMarc Hickson said his organization plans to use the grant funds, among other things, to educate the city’s “highly impacted communities” about COVID-19 and how best to follow federally recommended COVID prevention and social distancing guidelines. He said the group would also disseminate personal protection equipment among communities Us Helping Us focuses on, including black men who have sex with men, black transgender women, people with HIV/AIDS, and seniors.
Crenshaw said the Alston Foundation would use the grant funds, among other things, to help ensure that its clients who live in two group homes in Ward 1 and Ward 7 have the proper training and equipment to protect against the risk of coronavirus infection. In addition to providing proper equipment for clients and staff such as face masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer, Crenshaw said the funds would be used to pay for professional deep cleaning of all rooms within the group homes.
Casa Ruby Executive Director Ruby Corado said Casa Ruby, among other things, will use the grant funds for community education related to the COVID epidemic and provide personal protection equipment to those who need it.