United Parents and Students (UPAS) has distributed $15,000 to assist families impacted by COVID-19 across Los Angeles. One Family LA— a coalition of 30 organizations that banded together to raise funds for families in Los Angeles during the health crisis—selected UPAS as one of four grant recipients to select and help families at this time. UPAS has supplied 75 families with $200 Target gift cards to help cover food, toiletries, and general household expenses.
Many Green Dot parents who work in non-essential sectors have found themselves without remote work opportunities. Millions of students across the country lack consistent access to the internet since the school closures—making it nearly impossible to participate in distance learning. Veronica Toledo, Associate Director of UPAS, recognizes that this pandemic has exacerbated inequalities in underserved communities more than ever.
“Low-income families have been most financially impacted by COVID-19. Many of the families we serve work in service, retail, and hospitality, and have lost their jobs or had hours cut significantly,” Toledo said.
“We have cumulatively made thousands of personal calls to families and community members who live close to our schools to say ‘How is your family doing during this time? What are your greatest needs? How can we support you?” Toledo said. “It’s about connecting families to the right resources.”
As the COVID-19 crisis emerged, Vickey Vaughn knew she could look to UPAS for assistance. She calls the organization “a blessing,” and is thankful for its members who have been consistently involved in her community. Vaughn, a resident of South LA and parent of two Green Dot graduates, was one of the 75 families that were awarded gift cards. Vaughn said her adult daughter and son, who both work for local school districts, were laid off at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis.
“I’m on disability, so I had to use my resources to pick up the pieces.” Vaughn said. “I’ve just been trying to use finances to be sensible about budgeting, and providing for both my kids and myself since all of this has happened.” Vaughn said her gift card came when she needed it most. “I was able to go and do some shopping in my community for some of my basic needs.” she said.
While COVID-19 has been a financial strain on Vaughn’s family, she has found strength in her community, her church family, and UPAS. “Sometimes, the tough moments are the best lessons that we learn in life. Sometimes if we can get through the harder times, it’s easier to face things,” she added.
In a second round of funding, One Family LA has again selected UPAS to receive an additional $30,000 grant to help even more families across Los Angeles.
The well-being of our students and families is at the forefront of all that we do. Green Dot is proud to be a supporting member of One Family LA and work with UPAS to assist families navigate through these unprecedented times. Together, alongside our community partners, we’ll continue to address the barriers that impact the wellbeing of our students, families and communities.