INGLEWOOD — The Social Justice Learning Institute has created a community response fund to support families experiencing financial hardship during the COVID-19 crisis.
The organization recently received $25,000 from the All Ways Up Foundation to go toward feeding families in Inglewood and the nearby communities of Hawthorne, Lawndale, Lennox and South Los Angeles.
Program managers decided to use the money to purchase 250 $100 grocery gift cards.
“I was able to get extra groceries and that was a big help,” said Laron Allen, who lives in Los Angeles.
Allen said her hours as a security officer have been cut because of the coronavirus, but her bills are still due.
When her aunt told her about the COVID-19 Basic Needs Response Fund the Social Justice Learning Institute had created, she did not hesitate to reach out and let them know what she was going through.
“Something like this is a big help,” said Allen, who was also one of 100 people who received a free laptop. “Now I don’t have to go to the library to fill out job applications and (the library is) actually closed (due to COVID-19).”
The Social Justice Learning Institute is a nonprofit organization, aimed at improving communities of color through education, health, housing and social justice initiatives.
When COVID-19 began spreading in Los Angeles County, community organizers knew it was time to mobilize and jump into action.
“We’re trying to respond to the needs the best we know how. … We’re taking the cue from the community,” said Megan Hayward, the director of development at Social Justice Learning Institute on Centinela Avenue.
Meanwhile, like many other concerned residents, Allen is limiting her trips to the grocery store during the county’s Safer At Home Order.
“I like to buy in bulk. … I don’t want to run back and forth to the grocery store,” Allen said.
Hayward said in addition to food and technology access, the Social Justice Learning Institute is also following up on requests for help with housing and utilities during the current crisis.
“It’s been interesting to see the different needs and respond to those as quickly as possible,” Hayward said.
Meanwhile, applying for support can be done online at www.sjli.org.
Residents will be asked to complete the brief COVID-19 basic needs intake form, which will ask community members to describe what they need help with.
Services and financial support is being made available on a first-come, first-served basis.
After an applicant completes the form, a Social Justice Learning Institute staff member will reach out to applicants directly.
The program is currently helping dozens of residents daily.
Meanwhile, the Inglewood based nonprofit is working on expanding its health equity initiatives.
“We’re hoping to partner with No Kid Hungry to purchase a refrigerated truck,” Hayward said.
The truck would be used to expand the Social Justice Learning Institute’s food distribution initiatives, which provide free, fresh produce, during weekly giveaways at Hudnall Elementary School in Inglewood.
By John W. Davis