Brite Divinity School’s Borderlands Institute Receives Emergency Grant to Aid Immigrant Communities

May 29, 2020

Brite Divinity School’s Borderlands Institute has received a $150,000 emergency grant from the Henry Luce Foundation for immediate and direct aid to immigrant communities. Grappling with the effects of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the Foundation’s Theology Program sought institutions that could provide rapid support to the most vulnerable communities, while sharing their voices and experiences.

In the midst of COVID-19, many immigrant communities, particularly along the southern U.S. border, are in urgent need of financial assistance. Members of these immigrant communities provide essential needs, such as harvesting the U.S.’s food supply and processing meat in packing facilities, or engaging in various service industries, such as care of children, the elderly and the sick, as well as housekeeping and landscaping. These individuals are at greater risk of infection of COVID-19, and thus, losing their jobs, and in many cases, being detained in or deported out of the country while possibly carrying the virus. Their jobs are precarious at any time, with no sick leave, paid vacation or health insurance. These communities are in urgent need of financial assistance for food, housing and household bills.

The emergency grant fund will be used to financially assist established nonprofits, humanitarian organizations and religious communities that are involved in sheltering and providing healthcare, food and other basic critical and pastoral needs to immigrant communities. In addition, the grant will fund new and/or ongoing programs linked to these communities, including faith communities, nonprofits and ministries seeking to provide emergency assistance. Finally, the grant funds will be utilized to document the historical impact of immigrant communities and add their voices to the national/global narrative in these unprecedented days.

“These humanitarian agencies are only just beginning to deal with the dire health, employment and psychological consequences resulting from the impact of COVID in these immigrant communities,” said Dr. Francisco Lozada, Brite’s Director of Borderlands Institute and the Charles Fischer Catholic Professor of New Testament and Latinx Studies. “The immigrants, particularly women, who go out to the fields, meat facilities or service jobs, have no safe place to leave their children. Without medical assistance, many will die. We are deeply grateful to be able to channel these funds directly to those who need it most.”

The selection of the grant recipients will be made by a team of professionals who have worked closely with the Borderlands Institute and are familiar with communities, locally and regionally, with a strong social justice commitment to the immigrant community. The deployment of the funds targets a specific set of partners who have a sustained relationship with the Borderlands Institute and have demonstrated a commitment to vulnerable immigrant communities.