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Who is behind the AmplifyGR COVID-19 Relief Fund?

April 14, 2020

On Monday, the DeVos-funded entity, AmplifyGR, announced that they were now providing some relief funding due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The relief funds will be available only for those who live in the neighborhoods where AmplifyGR operates, namely the Oakdale, Boston Square, Madison Square area in the southeast part of the city.

For those who live in the neighborhoods that AmplifyGR serves, there are also some restrictions. According to what AmplifyGR posted on their Facebook page, those who qualify for COVID-19 relief funds must meet the following qualifications:

  • A registered address in the Oakdale/Boston Square, Madison Square or northern Garfield Park neighborhoods
  • Recently became unemployed or laid off,
  • Had an annual household income $50,000 or less before being laid off
  • Worked at a business with 250 employees or less.

The announcement also stated the following:

A generous group of Kent County residents have partnered with a nonprofit called the Family Independence Initiative (FII) to create a fund for families that are experiencing financial hardship because of COVID-19. Amplify GR, is piloting this program with FII to identify families who may need some financial assistance during this time. This is a great opportunity to CONNECT neighbors who are experiencing financial hardship to a cash assistance fund.

Now, we don’t know who the group of generous Kent County residents are that are partnering with the Family Independence Initiative, but based on what the philosophy of the Family Independence Initiative is, we could make some sound conclusions.

The Family Independence Initiative states on their website that they want to “make poverty escapable.” Sounds good, but when you investigate further, the Family Independence Initiative (FII) is all about providing capital to families in poverty so they can create wealth, primarily through entrepreneurism. In other words, the FII works with family experiencing poverty, as long as they want to start businesses. There is nothing on the FII site that discusses the massive wealth gap that exists in the US, labor exploitation, how the tax structure has been created by the wealthy to serve the wealthy,  and there is nothing about how structural racism and slavery have resulted in African Americans being screwed by capitalism from the beginning. Since structural racism and White Supremacy are not something the Family Independence Initiative are opposed to, they don’t advocate reparations for African Americans. 

However, the COVID-19 Relief Fund that is being offered through AmplifyGR, is different than what the Family Independence Initiative normally does. These new funds, specifically for people affected by the coronavirus, are being distributed through a partnership between Stand Together and the Family Independence Initiative.

Stand Together, which is really the Stand Together Foundation, is an entity created by Charles Koch, of the Koch Brothers. The goal of the Stand Together Foundation is to, “break the cycle of poverty by supporting the creative solutions of individuals and communities around the country. Our goal is to help effective, high-performing social entrepreneurs maximize impact—to help them help more—by bringing a business-like approach to the social sector.” Sound familiar?

The Stand Together Foundation and the Family Independence Initiative are partnering together to provide direct cash assistance to families during COVID-19, using the tag line “GiveTogetherNow#.

Now, I am all in favor of people receiving any kind of relief because of the COVID-19 crisis, but it is instructive to me that all the entities involved – AmplifyGR, the Family Independence Initiative and the Stand Together Foundation – are organizations that are funded by some of the most conservative families in the country – the Koch family and the DeVos family. More importantly, both the Koch and DeVos families have been shoving public policy down the throats of people in this country, public policy that has been anti-labor, anti-government regulation, anti-public education, anti-poor and racist as hell. Therefore, it is important that we recognize and come to terms with who is actually behind this COVID-19 relief fund and what their broader agenda might be.

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