More than a year into the pandemic and as we look to the future, I am grateful to all of the nonprofits that have cared for our community in the face of incredible challenges. As an essential industry, it was vital for Wells Fargo to continue to provide financial services across Los Angeles, and to support critical relief for our county’s most vulnerable communities. From providing families with rental assistance, to helping our small businesses continue their operations, to offering meals for our communities, our nonprofits have been at the heart of Los Angeles’s pandemic relief and recovery efforts.

I remember in March of 2020 when local hospitals and medical workers were coming to grips with the daunting complexities of treating the novel coronavirus, and our homeless service providers were working tirelessly to provide shelter for our most vulnerable neighbors experiencing homelessness.  It was inspiring to see institutions such as the Charles Drew Medical University and Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital using their ingenuity and compassion to provide critical testing and other vital services to our South Los Angeles community at a time when resources were so scarce.

Collaboration has been critical in helping navigate through this crisis, and organizations joined forces with a shared deep commitment to our communities. There are so many incredible examples of this commitment, including the County and City of Los Angeles launching the LA COVID-19 Relief Fund and providing more than 7,500 individual grants to small businesses in need. In addition, the LA Chamber of Commerce and Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation teamed up with LISC Los Angeles and other local Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) to provide technical assistance to small businesses desperately looking for guidance and information on how to apply for grants and other emergency capital including Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. One such organization was Pacific Coast Regional (PCR), which helps provide assistance and capital to small businesses like family-owned and operated restaurant Dulan’s Soul Food Kitchen; a culinary and culturally essential business in its own right. Through PCR’s support they have not only been able to retain all their employees, they have grown their business, adding six jobs and a new location to bolster their revenues.

Throughout the pandemic, the United Way of Greater Los Angeles and the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles have stayed in close communication to ensure people most adversely impacted received the financial assistance they needed through their respective Pandemic Relief Fund and Angeleno Campaign. Thanks to their efforts, more than 100,000 Angelenos received financial help to weather the economic impacts of the pandemic. The California Community Foundation worked with housing organizations like the Housing Rights Center to create the Flexible Rent Recovery Program to assist 1,000 households at risk of losing their housing.

I am truly grateful to all the nonprofit organizations who have come to the aid of individuals, families and small businesses during these incredibly challenging times.

On behalf of everyone at Wells Fargo, we thank you for your courage and your commitment. We are proud to support your efforts by donating more than $9 million through the Wells Fargo Foundation to bolster COVID-19 relief efforts in Los Angeles County in 2020. In addition, Wells Fargo launched the Open for Business Fund in July 2020 by donating all fees generated through our participation in the first round of the PPP. Through March 31, 2021, the Open for Business Fund has deployed roughly $125 million in philanthropic capital to CDFIs estimated to help 22,000 small businesses keep a projected 66,000 jobs across the country.

As we look to the future and begin focusing on an inclusive recovery, we remain committed to working with the region’s incredible nonprofits to continue supporting those most disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. We will work together to overcome systemic barriers to inclusion and opportunity so that our community can develop resiliency to withstand future shocks and lay the foundation for wealth creation.  Together, we will strive to build a more equitable, sustainable Los Angeles.  

News, insights and perspectives from Wells Fargo are also available at Gregg Sherkin is Senior Vice President, Southern California Social Impact and Sustainability with Wells Fargo Bank.

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