Taking Action for Vulnerable Populations amidst the Coronavirus Crisis – Next100
Commentary   Changing the Game

Taking Action for Vulnerable Populations amidst the Coronavirus Crisis

Let’s support our most vulnerable communities in addressing the coronavirus—starting now. Our team has pulled together some actions you can take from our partners and allies who are responding in real time to COVID-19.

The Next100 team is taking a momentary pause from our usual work to focus on what needs to be done right now during the coronavirus pandemic. As challenging as this moment feels to us—from worrying about family and loved ones, to social distancing, to working from home with small children traipsing around—we also know we are lucky; and we do not take the privilege of having the resources to weather this crisis lightly.

That’s why we’re continuing to fight for policies and actions that protect all of us so that everyone, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, immigration status, carceral history, or work status can benefit from policies like high-quality health care, universal child care, and more. A crisis makes these policies feel suddenly urgent; but they remain urgent even when we are not in a crisis.

It is precisely in moments like these, when we are each forced to think about the basic health and safety of our own loved ones, that it can be easy to forget about our most vulnerable populations, here at home and around the world. And yet, this moment is highlighting how interconnected our world is, across countries, race, class, and circumstance. When anyone is left out, we are all negatively impacted.

This moment is highlighting how interconnected our world is, across countries, race, class, and circumstance. When anyone is left out, we are all negatively impacted.

Let’s work together to support those vulnerable communities—starting now. Our team has pulled together some actions you can take from our partners and allies who are responding in real time to COVID-19.

Economic Supports

A stunning number of workers are out of work with no paid leave, sick days, or emergency funds. To see how you can support workers on the front lines of COVID-19, you can look to organizations that have set up funds and compiled lists of organizing efforts around the country like Coworker.org, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and Unionbase. And with so many people unable to work, families could be facing possible displacement if the government does not take quick action as well. Join Color of Change in demanding that governors protect those most vulnerable by creating plans to distribute meals to families and stop all evictions, utility shut offs, and job layoffs in their states.

Education

Coronavirus is throwing many families into turmoil as schools and daycares close, leaving parents unable to work and students lacking access to education, social services, and food. States and school districts must create plans to distribute meals to families—again, join Color of Change in asking governors to do so. And students still need to be supported educationally, as any loss of learning is likely to most substantially harm our most vulnerable student populations. Districts are moving to remote learning, but facing challenges due to the digital divide. Sign this letter asking the Federal Communications Commission to expand home internet access through its E-rate program so that classes can continue online even if school buildings are closed. In addition, the Emerson Collective has compiled an extensive list of remote learning resources for students, families, educators, and administrators.

Criminal Justice Reform

Many prisons have suspended family visits for fear of spreading coronavirus to our vulnerable prison population. Without visitation, many incarcerated people will not be able to communicate with their families—including their children—because of the high cost of phone calls. Sign this petition demanding free phone calls for incarcerated individuals during this time. Further support families by joining We Got Us Now in advocating on behalf of the children of incarcerated individuals for officials to take four actions to protect their parents. Or join the Sentencing Project in demanding local, state, and federal officials to release the incarcerated elderly, who are especially susceptible.

Immigration

Our country depends on all of us, including undocumented immigrants, many of whom are most vulnerable as they have very limited access to health care, job protections, or other protections. We cannot abandon them, or their children, as the country collectively responds to the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic. Sign this petition from United We Dream and partner organizations to demand a suspension of immigration enforcement activities in sensitive locations; free COVID-19 testing, treatment, and services for ALL, regardless of immigration status; and safe conditions and provision of healthcare, testing and support to protect those in detention and prisons.

Just as we stay connected with our internal community, we want to stay connected with and learn from you. If you have come across additional responses that you think we should take action on, please email us at [email protected] or connect with us on social media.

About the Author

Emma Vadehra Changing the Game

Emma Vadehra is the executive director of Next100. She previously served as chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Education under Secretaries Arne Duncan and John B. King, Jr. and as senior education counsel for the late senator Edward M. Kennedy. She is an education policy wonk, an advocate for progressive policy change, and a believer in the next generation.

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