Coronavirus Relief Grant
Checkbox-571: #2, #5
Legal-name: Grace Social and Medical Services
Address: 18326 Ward St
City: Fountain Valley
Officer-title: Executive Director
Contacttitle: Development Coordinator
Periodoftime: June- December
Audienceserved: We serve low income, food insecure, elderly/sick people and struggling small businesses who come from a Middle Eastern/North African background living in Long Beach
Demoofaudience: Our main demographic is low income North Africans and Middle Easterners of all ages.
District: All districts will be served
1. What disaster recovery service have already been provided? Grace is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides comprehensive services to the Middle Eastern North African (MENA) community in Southern California. Our services include providing for basic needs through our food bank (which is open to the entire surrounding community), rent assistance program, and social services navigation program. As you can imagine, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated our resources as more and more people are coming to us to for their basic needs. COVID-19 has also made it more difficult for some of our usual elderly or sick patrons to access our food bank, since they are now confined to their homes.
Although there are already many popular nonprofits that provide for basic needs, the MENA population is a group that is often forgotten and therefore unreached. Given their language barrier and cultural barrier, this group has no idea about the programs available to them and are left to fend for themselves. Grace was formed therefore to establish an ethnic Community Based Organization that knows this population’s needs, where to help them, and how to assist them.
In the past two months, Grace has won 4 grants to provide emergency COVID services to this population. These grants were used to create “Care Boxes” that contain a month’s worth of staples such as meat, oil, flour, and eggs. By coordinating with other MENA establishments such as Arab churches and masques, Grace was able to identify individuals and families who were suffering financially but were unable to visit our food bank due to health issues. So far, Grace has distributed over 150 boxes to families all over Los Angeles and Orange County.
In addition, Grace has been working with our network of over 20,000 people to coordinate emergency services for people in critical need due to the pandemic. For example, Grace has helped to find and secure housing for people who were displaced from their homes who were in living situations not protected by the rent and mortgage moratoriums. Grace is also working with its network to find and secure jobs for people who have been laid off.
Finally, since much of the government’s COVID public health campaigns and financial assistance programs are not in Arabic, many MENA immigrants are left uninformed and therefore vulnerable to scams, inflammatory news, and misinformation. Grace has therefore released a series of videos in Arabic about what the Corona virus is, proper sanitation practices, and what to expect from the stimulus check. Grace also released Arabic videos for business owners about how to apply for the PPP loan and SBA Disaster Relief loan.
2. What additional services, above your standard operations, will be conducted with this grant funding?: In Long Beach, many of the liquor stores, gas stations, and laundromats are owned by a MENA person. A quick search on Yelp shows that there are at least 150 different Middle Eastern restaurants in Long Beach. Although the exact number is hard to gauge, it is estimated that at least 40% of MENA immigrants own a business. Since small businesses are being especially affected by the crisis- with many brick and mortar stores going completely out of business- MENA immigrants are therefore disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Grace aims to create a microloan program for MENA-owned businesses in Long Beach to keep them afloat while they adapt their business strategies. Although Grace has never had a microloan program before, our nonprofit partner, Mission Take Heart, has an international microloan program for impoverished communities who can provide us the model needed to disseminate the loans. Businesses will be approved for a $1,000 loan by filling out a one-page Arabic questionnaire that verifies that the business is actively working on adapting their strategies to fit the pandemic. Secondly, Grace has a 20,000-person network of jobs and small businesses located in Southern California, many of them in Long Beach. Grace would therefore have no problem identifying and reaching out to the small business owners who need the loan.
Although running our food bank in Fountain Valley is a part of our standard operations, Grace has gone above and beyond this program by providing creating and delivering “Care Boxes” to low income elderly and sick individuals who cannot leave their homes. We coordinate with local masques and churches to identify families in need and deliver them the goods on a monthly basis. Each box costs about $30 and includes a month’s worth of staples including flour, eggs, oil, meat, ad some snacks. Grace has received several thousand dollars in grant funding to deliver the care packages to Anaheim and its surrounding areas. Through the Long Beach Community Foundation, Grace will coordinate with Long Beach-based MENA institutions such as Christ the Good Shepard Church to identify Long Beach families in need and deliver the boxes.
3. What individuals (and/or organizations) will you assist? : Grace will assist all individuals living in Long Beach who request our services with an emphasis on low income MENA immigrants who have trouble reaching resources. Most individuals will be reached through our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Elevatedbygrace) and our Facebook Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/2383323455258912), which is a 20,000-person network of MENA immigrants living in Southern California, many of whom live in Long Beach. Grace will also assist businesses located in Long Beach through our microloan program.
4. What other disaster recovery funds have you received? What amount?: Grace has received funding from the following organizations:
Anaheim Community Foundation- $5,000 to distribute care packages to families living in Anaheim
Nilorado- $2,500 to distribute care packages to families living in Southern California
5. What other disaster recovery funds have you applied for?: Grace has applied for the following funds:
OC Community Resilience Fund- Pending
Sempra Energy COVID fund- Denied
Anaheim Community Foundation- Approved
SBA Disaster Assistance Loan- Pending
SECTION NOT VISIBLE ON PDF: Microloans- $1,000 per qualified business
6/19 SM emailed:
I have just a couple more questions regarding your grant:
- Is the application in both English and Arabic?
- Are the microloans available to ANY business in Long Beach? So if your phone number was on our website and someone called you (outside of your network) would you be able to give them an application?
- Are you able to handle more than $12,000 for microloans? Why just 12 businesses?
Thank you for your patience as I had to hop on a call with the Executive Director to get the answer to your questions below:
- Is the application in both English and Arabic? Yes, all forms will be made in English and translated into Arabic by our ESL teacher, who is a professional translator and phD in Comparative Arabic-English linguistics.
- Are the microloans available to ANY business in Long Beach? So if your phone number was on our website and someone called you (outside of your network) would you be able to give them an application? Although Grace specializes in serving the MENA community, we do not discriminate against any race, religion, national origin, or any other factor, and we help anyone who comes through our doors. So to answer your question, yes: if someone found our application through your site we would be able to give them an application.
- Are you able to handle more than $12,000 for microloans? Why just 12 businesses? My Executive Director made me aware that Grace has actually run microloan programs in other countries in the past, but this would be the first time we’ve ran such a program in America. After speaking to my Executive Director and Take Heart’s Executive Director (our nonprofit partner who is experienced in running microloan programs), they said that on an administrative and operational level, we can handle 12 different businesses for $1,000 each. After that, we would be able to handle another 10 businesses at $3,000. We asked for $12,000 because according to the application, $20,000 was our ceiling and we also needed more funds to fund our pantry as well as our indirect costs. However, based on the success of this program, Grace is solvent enough to continue the microloan program long after LBCF funds are gone.
Thank you! Also, please feel free to call me if my answers didn’t make sense of if you’d like to know more.