Today, the Woody and Gayle Hunt Family Foundation, in partnership with El Paso County, EPISO/Border Interfaith and UpTogether (formerly the Family Independence Initiative) announced that they are working with families in El Paso County that were financially impacted by COVID-19 through a new recovery fund.
The El Paso County Recovery Fund is providing 245 eligible families in El Paso County with an upfront payment of $1,200, followed by five monthly cash payments of $240 from October to February 2022. Families will also have access to UpTogether’s online platform, the UpTogether Community, where families can connect with each other to craft solutions and work together to build pathways out of poverty.
“Unfortunately, COVID-19 is still here. I am grateful that El Paso County, the Woody and Gayle Hunt Family Foundation, and UpTogether are as well,” said Father Pablo Matta of EPISO/Border Interfaith. “Even as our region regains jobs, schools reopen and food insecurity lessens, we need to continue to help families, as thousands in El Paso are still trying to get back on their feet. More public and private investment in this effort would help even more families without other aid stay housed and fed.”
Over the past 20 years, UpTogether has invested more than $135M in over 200,000 households facing or experiencing poverty. The national nonprofit organization highlights, invests in, and accelerates the initiatives that people in historically under-resourced communities are taking to improve their lives and move up, together. This strength-based approach recognizes that people living with low incomes are already taking actions to improve their lives. UpTogether simply invests in their initiatives with unrestricted dollars and provides a platform where they can connect with others to accelerate their efforts.
“More than 18 percent of the population of El Paso County live at or below the poverty rate,” said Ricardo Samaniego, El Paso County Judge. “When your entire paycheck is dedicated to paying rent and utilities or putting food on the table, there is no room for error. The El Paso County Recovery Fund will allow us to work closely with families in need of a helping hand by giving them innovative tools to change their lives for the better.”
This is a joint endeavor. The County of El Paso has committed $300,000 to the fund, the Woody and Gayle Hunt Family Foundation is contributing $100,000, and UpTogether is adding another $200,000 from private philanthropy. EPISO/Border Interfaith connected families in the rural and unincorporated parts of the county who may struggle to find work, pay rent, buy food, and access reliable transportation to the El Paso County Recovery Fund.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is still affecting the economic livelihood of so many El Pasoans and their quality of life. That is why we are proud to partner with El Paso County and UpTogether to invest in the resilience and ingenuity of El Paso families,” said Woody L. Hunt, chairman of the Woody and Gayle Hunt Family Foundation. “With the right financial and social support, these families will be able to not only deal with the financial impact of the pandemic but also, we hope, find long-term economic prosperity.”