Nonprofit workers are playing critical roles during the coronavirus pandemic — caring for the ill, providing financial aid, offering counseling, and other services — and supporting the nation’s hard-hit families. On International Workers’ Day, their contributions are showing us again that nonprofit workers are central to communities and the U.S. economy.
Today, nonprofit workers represent the third-largest group in the country’s workforce. Marguerite Casey Foundation grantees are working tirelessly and remotely during this crisis to support families in communities of color:
- In Chicago, at Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN), medical staff are providing virtual and bilingual health care for families in Black, Latinx, and Muslim communities, as well as returning citizens who are home from incarceration. IMAN organizers are distributing care packages of healthy food to families of color in Chicago food deserts.
- In Miami, New Florida Majority is calling on state leaders to make sure Black and Latinx workers who have lost jobs receive unemployment checks and can remain in their homes.
- The Workers Defense Project, based in Texas, is organizing an emergency fund for low-wage construction workers, especially undocumented immigrants. The organization is fighting for benefits for unemployed workers and calling on elected leaders to prioritize people of color in policy responses.
- In California, Silicon Valley Rising — a campaign of Working Partnerships USA — talked with congressional and county lawmakers about paid sick leave, a living wage, and health care for families of all backgrounds.
These actions show the importance of nonprofit workers in low-income communities of color and to the nation. As of 2016, there were 12 million nonprofit workers in the country.
The Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies says that amount equals the number of U.S. manufacturing workers. Only retail trade (16 million jobs) and accommodation and food services (13 million jobs) rank higher.
Nonprofit workers might be overlooked in the U.S. economy, but their daily contributions to families and communities are so essential — especially now, when the stakes are so high, and stress, burnout, and funding cuts are so real.
As we celebrate International Workers’ Day, let’s honor nonprofit workers and the essential roles they play in society. They are the lifeblood of our communities.