Leaders with The Equity Alliance, a statewide non-profit focused on the civic and economic empowerment of the black community have released a detailed set of recommendations for Nashville’s spending of the $121 million of federal CARES Act funding for economic recovery.
Charlane Oliver, co-founder and co-executive director of The Equity Alliance is a member of an advisory group assembled by Mayor John Cooper to give guidance on how best to spend the one-time sum.
In a memo delivered to the group Tuesday, Oliver suggested spending in several broad areas, including economic stimulation for small business, voter rights and support of working families. The recommendations include:
- Grants to churches and afterschool programs to offer summer camp activities in smaller groups for working parents;
- Increased funding for elections, including PPE for poll workers, bus fare for those without transportation, and more polling locations in minority neighborhoods;
- Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to poll workers, who are typically elderly and more at-risk of contracting COVID-19
- Funding for Black-owned businesses, particularly owners with past criminal histories, whose Small Business Administration loans were denied;
- Direct payments to struggling working families to recoup unexpected household expenses;
- Rent and mortgage relief payments for terminated and furloughed workers;
- Stipends for temporary healthcare plans and Covid-19 testing fees;
Oliver said black and immigrant residents, working people, and the economically disadvantaged have been among the hardest hit in Nashville during the economic downturn, precipitating her recommendations. .
“To jumpstart our local economy, we believe in putting resources directly in people’s hands who have been most impacted,” she said. “Mayor Cooper has an opportunity to right some past wrongs of previous administrations by directing these funds to be spent to ensure that Black residents are neither disenfranchised from their civic right to vote nor left behind in the economic recovery.”
“With Black Nashvillians making up 28% of the city’s population, we expect the CARES Act fund to be equitably and proportionately distributed to us,” Oliver said.
Founded in 2016, The Equity Alliance advocates for black Americans and other Americans of color to have a chance to realize the American Dream of economic success. The organization has been working statewide in the ihe aftermath of tornadoes that destroyed portions of both Nashville and Chattanooga.
“The economic downturn brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequities in already distressed communities,” said Tequila Johnson, co-executive director of The Equity Alliance. This is a unique time in Nashville’s history, and it calls for bold leadership and unprecedented shifts in how we uplift historically black neighborhoods which were already struggling that will have the hardest time recovering from this pandemic,” said Tequila Johnson, co-executive director of The Equity Alliance.
The full list of recommendations to Mayor Cooper can be found here. Other members of the advisory group include former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, Chairman and CEO of Ryman Hospitality Properties Colin Reed, Tara Scarlett, president and CEO of The Scarlett Family Foundation, and Dr. Wright Pinson, CEO of the Vanderbilt Health System.