Still Working Hard for Community

Kapor Center
Mar 24, 2020 · 4 min read

Dear Kapor Center, Kapor Capital, & SMASH community members:

We at the Kapor Center know you’ve received multiple updates about what different organizations are doing in the face of this COVID-19 global crisis. It is important to us to share with you our thinking and commitments during this time of great uncertainty.

The health and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will disproportionately impact low income communities of color in the United States, perhaps severely. Many of the people we serve come from these communities, which are economically vulnerable even in the best of times. Given the necessary shelter-in-place orders and related shutdowns, families will be unable to work, become unemployed, or be forced to work in dangerous working conditions. Students will be unable to receive a quality education, and will lack access to healthy meals provided through schools.

Our communities are also more likely to lack access to quality healthcare or disposable income to stock up on preventative supplies.

We remain true to our mission of building an inclusive tech ecosystem that is able to address and solve social challenges — even those caused by the coronavirus — particularly focused on the communities we serve. Here are some of the steps we are taking to address this crisis:

Oakland is our heart and home. We are aligning with our East Bay networks to:

In addition to this initial $350,000 commitment, we’re also repurposing our Foundation programs budget to strategically deploy additional resources to crisis responses.

This global health crisis has severe economic implications. We will utilize our research expertise to critically examine scientific data, trends, and publications and share key messages with our constituents. We will also be active in opportunities to advocate for policies, initiatives, and ventures addressing facets of economic inequality, ranging from K-12 education and the digital divide, to worker protections, healthcare, job displacement, housing, and tech’s role in reducing inequality.

SMASH was founded by Freada Kapor Klein in our backyard at UC Berkeley in 2004. SMASH has a 100% high school graduation rate with 76% enrolling in college as a STEM major. But this summer won’t be the same as in years past.

To meet the current challenge, we are getting creative with our university and SMASH Rising partners, evaluating alternative methods for engaging new and existing scholars. This includes virtual classrooms and non-residential programs for any of the ten partner campuses curating resources for SMASH families, and creating opportunities for our scholars to develop their own civic engagement and leadership skills in response to COVID-19. Through it all, we remain deeply committed to serving our scholars’ academic and family needs, and we welcome your continued support and assistance.

Kapor Capital has a diverse portfolio made up of 120 companies with 70% female founders and 42 underrepresented founders of color. Many of these founders are using their businesses to change the lives of low income communities and communities of color, the populations most affected by times such as these. We are working in close collaboration with all our mission-driven founders to stay up to date with the needs of their businesses and provide resources where applicable.

A number of companies are offering special use of products and services during this pandemic. Check here for a repository of resources and deals.

As mentioned earlier, we’ve partnered with Bitwise and other stakeholders to launch ONWARD CALIFORNIA, a one-stop resource providing support to Californians impacted by job loss. Through this single, sign-on portal, people can get connected to emergency resources, training programs to upskill for a new career, and matches with employers looking for people with their current skill set. Onward CA is the official, centralized online source of information for displaced workers in California and will launch by April 1, 2020.

As always (and perhaps more than ever), we are eager to collaborate with others to address some of the many needs that this pandemic has created.

If you have ideas or resources to leverage with any of our efforts, please contact us right away: action@kaporcenter.org

As we navigate this time together we will continue to provide updates and opportunities. Many thanks for all you can do, and best wishes for staying safe and healthy.

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