Families Excluded from Governmental Aid Find Hope in Community

May 7, 2020

Many Americans are receiving a stimulus check from the federal government. For countless families living in our country, however, this and other sources of aid are unavailable due to their immigration status. Local nonprofit incubator MANAUS established an emergency relief fund to serve those excluded, from Parachute to Aspen. This fund has already distributed aid to hundreds of families with support from Valley Settlement, Aspen Community Foundation, Colorado Trust, and other donors including participants of a stimulus check redistribution initiative organized by Sanctuary Unidos.

Credit Sanctuary Unidos

 Since mid-March, more than 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits. This staggering figure does not even approximate the full picture of our unfolding economic crisis. This is because many of the families that have been most affected by closures do not qualify for this or other forms of government assistance.

Concern for how all families fare through this crisis led Sofia Clark, who forms part of Sanctuary Unidos, to investigate how others are responding around the country. She discovered a mutual aid group in the four corners region organizing the redistribution of federal stimulus checks to persons excluded from other sources of aid.

Sanctuary Unidos has since made an online form available to facilitate the redistribution of people's stimulus checks locally using the MANAUS Emergency Fund which accepts donations of all sizes.

MANAUS is a nonprofit management center based in Carbondale. With support from Valley Settlement, Aspen Community Foundation, and Colorado Trust, in addition to many other donors, their fund has made hundreds of thousands of dollars available to families in need from Parachute to Aspen. The funds are distributed using LaMedichi, a savings and credit club incubated within MANAUS to teach financial literacy .

As LaMedichi creator and team leader Barbara Freeman explains, an associated app quickly delivers the aid: $950 immediately available per family with $50 deposited into savings with LaMedichi for the added financial education opportunity.

Another aspect that sets this program apart from others is that MANAUS does not require extensive paperwork nor proof of need. After filling out a basic online form, applicants are connected with a volunteer “ambassador” for an interview. They are then informed that these are one-time funds per family, prioritizing people most in need and without access to other resources.