In 2020, we helped get emergency economic relief to 215,000 of the most vulnerable families.

While we now work to address root causes vs. symptoms, the outcomes listed below speak to our ability to move nimbly and strategically, center equity, and deliver results. In 2020, we:


Helped to provide emergency cash relief to 215,000 workers and families hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Unlocked $115M+ in philanthropic funding for emergency cash relief.


Funded a surge in policy advocacy and communications on workplace health and safety, helping to earn the issue a day one executive order.


Supported a coalition of economists and policy analysts to make an evidence-based case for an expanded social safety net.


Supported 26 grassroots nonprofits or networks to create or strengthen emergency cash transfer systems, including integrating digital payment options.


What we’re targeting next

We are now at a crucial moment. The coming together of the pandemic, economic, and racial crises is our once-in-a-generation chance to profoundly transform the economy. We are no longer just focused on rapid response, but are now setting our sights on systems change and the ways we can accelerate shared, longstanding goals by leveraging the unique opportunities in this economic recovery period. Through our fund, we strive towards two critical long term impact goals.

The first is Recover Up. An initiative to deliver job pathways that enable economic security and mobility. Through Recover Up, we will deliver jobs that enable economic security and mobility for struggling workers, and leverage new federal and employer investments to hopefully propel unprecedented scale.

The second is 21st Century Benefits. Its goal is to help repair and reimagine the public benefits system so that it better enables families to stay afloat and recover from crises — with an initial focus on unemployment insurance.

Whether you’re a grantseeker or a prospective funder, if our goals resonate with you, then please get in touch.


Jobs that sustain and uplift

Balanced on a knife’s edge of pandemic, economic and racial crises, our nation risks falling into a “recover down” scenario. Unemployed people may be forced to accept jobs that are well below the skill, benefits, and pay levels they should be eligible for, or could be stranded from the labor market altogether.

That’s why it’s one of our long-term goals to help galvanize a ‘Recover Up’. While we are still actively shaping our grantmaking pipeline and partnerships, this is how we plan to take action.

Covid-19 sent shockwaves through the US economy. In just a few short months, the unemployment rate shot up from a fifty-year low of 3.5 percent to nearly 14.7 percent. This hit low-wage workers the hardest, nearly half of whom lost their job in 2020. Now, as we collectively dust ourselves off, millions are still unemployed, and millions more are underemployed, with young people, people of color, women, and caregivers suffering the most.

We are, as a nation, in dire risk of falling into a “recover down” scenario. This is where unemployed people are forced to accept jobs that are well below the skill, benefits, and pay levels they should be eligible for, or don’t find a job at all and become detached from the labor market. This causes them to fall into lengthy periods of unemployment–an economic hardship that could affect the rest of their lives and reduce their chance at economic mobility.

Unfortunately, this pattern is all too familiar to economic recoveries. Our vision? To enable a ‘recover up’. To deliver jobs that enable economic security and mobility for struggling workers, and to leverage unprecedented federal and employer investments in job creation on an unprecedented scale. We plan to:

  • Help workers and families move into economic security with greater potential for upward mobility
  • Back organizations that are connecting unemployed or underemployed workers to quality jobs that offer opportunities for advancement
  • Double down in industries being reshaped or rapidly growing due to the economic recovery, such as green and resilient jobs
  • Support local government in using its special levers of power to both improve job quality and achieve important community outcomes
  • Support employer champions and coalitions that are improving opportunity, career pathways, and financial wellness of workers

Many of these solutions are waiting for the right grantees and funders. So if you are either and want to be involved, please get in touch.

21st century benefits

Repair. Redefine. Reimagine

No one’s life should be defined by their hardest moments, yet too often our inadequate benefits system makes this the reality. A lost job turns into a winter without heat, or having to make the impossible choice between paying for medical bills, groceries, or rent.

In a compassionate economy, there is support to overcome these bumps in the road. Children’s lives, wellbeing, and opportunities aren’t curtailed just because their parents may have lost a job. And in a productive economy, we can’t afford to have millions on the sidelines struggling and working below their potential.

The pandemic revealed both the inefficiencies and inequities in our benefits system, which included white people receiving twice the unemployment benefits of Black people, despite Black people facing higher unemployment rates, and millions still being excluded from benefits altogether, including many immigrants, gig workers, and domestic workers. It exposed the outdated technology and delivery systems that meant millions experienced lengthy delays, long wait times, errors, or clunky payment processing systems–right when they needed payment more than ever.

Too often, proposed solutions to the benefits system take either a tech-only or policy-only approach. Our goal? To marry the two. To get the current system to operate better, with greater equity and inclusion, it’s all about repairing, redefining, and reimagining.


  • Partner to create more effective and equitable UI systems, increasing utilization, reducing wait time, and improving the experience for unbanked, underbanked, and marginalized people and reduce wait times and increase output.
  • Reduce racial disparities in benefits access and provision and provide a set of practices that could be adopted more widely
  • Work in ways that support government in its commitment to overhauling many of the benefits systems that struggled to meet the need that emerged during the pandemic


  • Counter harmful narratives around “the undeserving poor” and “welfare queens” that have long been used to make our social safety net less effective and robust


  • Address today’s pain points while working toward the north star of integrated, automatic, and digital benefits for all

Many of these solutions are waiting for the right grantee and funder. So if you are either and want to be involved, please get in touch.


Our direct relief “sidecar” offering.

In 2020, the Families and Workers Fund and our grantees were able to help provide direct cash transfers to 215,000 of the most vulnerable working families. This included immigrant day laborers, transgender People of Color living in rural communities in the South, domestic workers, restaurant workers, gig workers, and many others.

While we are no longer fundraising explicitly for direct cash transfers and are instead working to address underlying economic system failures, we are able to provide a direct relief “sidecar” offering for interested donors.

We work with vetted community and worker organizations across the country who have track records in effectively getting cash to the most marginalized people, and we can offer donor matchmaking with these groups, or allocate the funds ourselves based on our ongoing assessment of needs on the ground. Importantly, within these groups, cash transfers yield more than their financial value: cash is also an invitation to build community, collaborate on policy, and more.

This direct relief “sidecar”offering is deeply related to our 21st Century Benefits impact strategy, and we encourage donors who are interested in cash relief to also consider supporting this strategy. This way, marginalized workers and families will be better positioned to weather future crises and not have to rely so much on philanthropy.

What's New?

The Families and Workers Fund Releases New Report on How the U.S. Can Measure Job Quality

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Families and Workers Fund joins the White House and partners to announce the results of the Talent Pipeline Challenge

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The Families and Workers Fund and Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program release the Good Jobs Champions Statement

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Making Good Jobs Our North Star: Reflections on the First-Ever Good Jobs Summit

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The Families and Workers Fund & U.S. Department of Labor Co-Host the First Good Jobs Summit

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The Families and Workers Fund Welcomes its Philanthropy and Operations Team

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