Jacobs quickly laid out the plan: LA would invite families in need to apply for up to $1,500 in assistance. To fund these aid packages, the city would use its nonprofit Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles to establish the Angeleno Campaign, a campaign dedicated to COVID-19 relief, with an initial goal of raising $10 million. Jacobs needed Gamiño and his team at City Possible to come up with a way to collect money and then disburse that direct relief as rapidly and safely as possible.
Distribution was easy. Last year, the City Possible network created Mastercard City Key, a platform that combines an ID card with payment systems supported by the existing network of vendor partnerships and prominent prepaid companies. “If you took your driver’s license and Mastercard, put them back-to-back and melted them together, you basically get a City Key,” says Gamiño. Gamino, in partnership with Jacobs and the MA regional team, arranged to start by assisting 3,200 approved families, who would receive cards at one of 16 family resource centers located throughout the city. Eventually, they could ramp up to help more families and add other benefits, such as vouchers for local grocery stores or pharmacies.
Next came digital donations. To help solve the problem, Gamiño reached out to Cristina Paslar at Mastercard Cause Enablement, a division that launches cause-related initiatives for the company and its customers. As head of the program, Paslar often customizes technological solutions for fundraising. By leveraging the Donation Platform portfolio, she was also able to quickly size up what LA needed and deliver the solution.
Raising money requires reaching as many potential donors as possible. In this situation, those donors would be Angelenos who are stuck at home, yearning to help their community. “Since the city is sheltering in place, people are now very connected to social media and watching TV,” explains Paslar. “We felt it was important to be where these audiences are.” She worked with fintech partner Goodworld, which facilitates hashtag donations through social media, to come up with a system that spanned across social media, text and webpages. Anyone interested in contributing need only text LALOVE to the number 21000.
From there, Jacobs and Gamiño plan to test out their disaster relief model in other cities around the United States. But before they get started, they are taking a moment to appreciate all that this public-private team accomplished. “We got this idea off the ground in eight days,” marvels Gamiño. “And no one we asked for help said no.”
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