Families and Workers Fund Launches Mission to Build a More Equitable Economy with Sustainable Jobs and 21st Century Benefits That Support Families During Crises

Diverse Group of Leading Philanthropies Unite to Foster an Equitable Economic Recovery

Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation and Eric Braverman, Chief Executive Officer of Schmidt Futures, To Serve As Co-Chairs

October 5, 2021 – Press Release

New York City – Families and Workers Fund (FWF) today announced the launch of a five-year collaborative philanthropy dedicated to building a more equitable economy that uplifts all. Recognizing that the COVID-19 pandemic has created a once-in-a-generation opening to improve the lives of workers and their families, FWF will work to deploy funding and build partnerships to help repair and reimagine the systems that fuel economic security, opportunity and mobility. The Fund seeks to advance jobs that sustain and uplift people and also invest in the development of a more inclusive, effective public benefits system, with a focus on unemployment insurance. It will be co-chaired by Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation and Eric Braverman, Chief Executive Officer, Schmidt Futures.

COVID-19 highlighted the struggles and inequities that have long plagued the United States. Prior to the pandemic, more than 40% of families could not afford the basics, from groceries to rent and child care. During the pandemic, layoffs fell hardest on those earning the least, with nearly half of the lowest-paid workers losing their jobs. Many have been locked out of the country’s recovery and prosperity, unable to access much-needed and deserved support to help their families weather a crisis. The social safety net and the economy can and should work for all people, especially those historically excluded from opportunity, including low-income communities, Black, indigenous, Latinx, other people of color (BIPOC), young people, immigrant families, women, caregivers, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ people.

“The pandemic exposed what we’ve known for too long: our economy isn’t working for working people,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “But from one of the most painful, tragic chapters in American history, a watershed moment for recovery has emerged. We are proud to support the Families and Workers Fund, which is positioned to reimagine an equitable, worker-centered economy, with sustainable jobs and 21st century benefits as the engine.”

“When the pandemic struck, the Families and Workers Fund mobilized a network of partners, bet early and quickly on an approach to assist both people and small businesses in need, and worked to fill gaps in the benefit systems provided by government and business,” said Eric Braverman, CEO of Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt. “We’re proud to unite more than twenty diverse philanthropies to support the Fund’s critical and urgent mission—to create a more equitable recovery and prosperous economy for everyone.”

FWF was initially created in April 2020 as a short-term, rapid response effort with a mission to aid those disproportionately harmed by the pandemic. In 2020, the Fund was able to support grassroots and community nonprofits to help get cash transfers to 215,000 of the most vulnerable, hardest-hit families. The initiative unites diverse funders that bring complementary expertise in critical areas, such as technology excellence and government delivery; social justice and equity; workforce development and policy; and inclusive capitalism and business partnerships.

The collaborative is backed by an Executive Committee including Amalgamated Foundation, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundations, The Rockefeller Foundation, Schmidt Futures, and Skoll Foundation and other major funders, including The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Bernard and Anne Spitzer Charitable Trust, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, #StartSmall (a philanthropic initiative by Jack Dorsey), JPB Foundation, Luminate, MacKenzie Scott, Morgan Stanley, Omidyar Network, Robin Hood, The Roger I. and The Ruth B. MacFarlane Foundation, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Today’s launch sets the stage for a new vision and for FWF to make philanthropic investments to accomplish two goals: 1) Advance jobs that sustain and uplift people; and 2) Invest in the continued development of a more inclusive, effective public benefits system, with a focus on unemployment insurance.

Recover Up: Jobs That Sustain and Uplift
In 2020, the lowest-wage workers lost nearly 8 million jobs, while the highest-wage workers gained nearly one million new jobs, with net job loss totalling nearly 6 million as of July 2021. FWF is working in partnership with federal, state, local government and businesses to deliver catalytic examples of high-quality job growth that are accessible to all. Recover Up aims to help deliver job pathways that enable economic security and mobility, leveraging billions in new federal and employer investments that have the potential to propel unprecedented scale.

21st Century Benefits: Benefits that Work for Everyone
Since early 2020, millions of workers have found themselves jobless, with lagging or no unemployment benefits. This unfortunate cycle continues to repeat itself each time the country is faced with a downturn, despite the data proving that governmental support enables individuals to return to the workforce while boosting the economy as a whole. By supporting government innovation, civic tech, and advocacy, the Fund and its partners will help repair and reimagine the public benefits system so that it better enables families to stay afloat, recover from crises, and equally prosper.

“It’s not good enough to go back to how things were before COVID-19,” said Rachel Korberg, Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Families and Workers Fund. “The unexpected, silver lining of this brutal pandemic is that we have all been reminded about how essential workers are.”

The Families and Workers Fund looks forward to working with businesses, governments, and workers to help build a more equitable economy. To become a grantee or a funder and learn more about the Families and Workers Fund, please visit www.familiesandworkers.org.

About Families & Workers Fund
Families and Workers Fund is the first national, multi-donor collaborative philanthropy dedicated to building a more equitable U.S. economy by advancing jobs that sustain and uplift people and a benefits system that better supports families during times of crisis. The Fund aims to shape the country’s economic recovery by fostering large-scale collaboration and directing grants to organizations committed to repairing and reimagining the systems that fuel equitable economic security and opportunity. Rachel Korberg is Executive Director and Co-Founder, with Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation and Eric Braverman, CEO, Schmidt Futures as Co-Chairs. The organization’s Executive Committee includes the Amalgamated Foundation, Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundations, The Rockefeller Foundation, Schmidt Futures, Schusterman Family Philanthropies, and the Skoll Foundation. The Fund is housed at the Amalgamated Foundation, sister philanthropic arm of Amalgamated Bank. For more information, visit www.familiesandworkers.org.


YK Vandekamp – Director of Philanthropy & Operations