The Oregon Cares Fund has resumed grant distribution to the Black community. In the coming weeks and months, the Fund will disburse the remaining funds, as they are available. All but $3.5 million has been returned to the Fund as a result of the recent settlement agreement.
“We are working as fast as possible to notify applicants and distribute awards, while ensuring security and compliance,” said Anthony Jordan, president of The Contingent, the nonprofit administering the funds.
Grant awards will go to those entities and individuals that applied for the fund in November and December of 2020 and demonstrated financial harm due to COVID-19. No new grant applications are being accepted. Applicants do not need to re-apply or take any further action. The Oregon Cares Fund team will be in touch via email as soon as they can to communicate with applicants. Due to the need for COVID-aid outpacing the amount of aid available and the need to follow U.S. Treasury guidelines regarding Federal fund disbursement, not all applications are guaranteed funding. For additional questions visit the FAQ page on the Oregon Cares Fund website.
In March, The Oregon Cares Fund reached a settlement agreement with plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit filed against the fund. The agreement allowed the remaining $8.8 million temporarily held by the court to be distributed to Black Oregonians, Black-owned businesses and Black-led nonprofits.
The court immediately released $5.3 million of the $8.8 million held by the court. The Contingent is disbursing those funds to eligible applicants that were vetted and approved in November and December and have been waiting for grants. The remaining $3.5 million continues to be held by the court, but those funds are expected to be disbursed in the future upon court approval.
The Oregon Cares Fund was a targeted grant program available to help Black individuals and families, Black business owners and Black-led nonprofits across Oregon weather the financial harm caused by COVID-19.
The $62 million fund was made available through the Oregon Legislature’s Emergency Board. In July 2020, the Board voted to allocate a portion ($200 million) of Oregon’s $1.4 billion in federally funded COVID-19 relief (from the CARES Act) toward specific communities and sectors of the economy --including the Black community in Oregon. This was necessary because the Black community often receives a disproportionately lower amount of financial support from relief funds such as the CARES Act.
The Oregon Cares Fund highlights the strength of a diverse leadership coalition aligned on behalf of the Black community’s interests. This investment waschampioned in the legislature by Rep. Akasha Lawrence Spence, Rep. Janelle Bynum, Sen. James Manning, Sen. Lew Frederick, Black leaders across the state and thousands of Oregon constituents. The Council of Trust, composed of 11 Black leaders from across Oregon, was charged with guiding the fund and approving applications