By Kimberly Storin, Chief Market Officer at RapidDeploy, Women’s Fund Investor
COVID-19 has illuminated digital gaps in all of our lives. For example, the ability to work remotely; to leverage ‘contactless’ services; and to ensure our children continue their education, among many others.
While it hasn’t been easy for any of us, it has disproportionally and unfairly impacted women and women of color globally, nationally and in our community. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 60% of job losses from the pandemic were held by women.
Last week during the Women’s Fund roundtable discussion “Supporting Essential Needs for Women during COVID-19,” we discussed the impact of the pandemic with leaders from Planned Parenthood, St David’s Foundation and SAFE Alliance. Local nonprofits are not only seeing more inequities because of the pandemic but they have also been forced to accelerate their own transformation to address these inequities.
According to Tonya Capson from Planned Parenthood, they saw the number of in-person visits decline as a result of COVID-19 and their revenue also decreased by more than $500,000. In order to address this gap, they had to ramp up other digital avenues to reach clients like telehealth and remote capabilities. This meant that they had to quickly invest in technology and equipment to meet these needs.
“Surviving violence and abuse is already a full-time job and it’s extremely hard,” said Erin Goodison from SAFE Alliance. “Now the adaptive measures that all of us are taking to get through the pandemic are unavailable to people that are already going at over 100% every day.” SAFE had previously dedicated a lot of time to fieldwork with their clients – taking them to doctor or court appointments – and now the organization has had to invest in basic technology like providing clients with mobile phones and mobile services monthly. These types of technology investments are not funded by big grants and the organization is tapping into new funding sources and opportunities.
St David’s Foundation is not a service provider like Planned Parenthood or SAFE, so the transformation that they undertook as a result of COVID-19 was to expedite how they support other nonprofit organizations that are serving the needs of women in Central Texas. They crammed a historically six-month process into two months and added processes and guidelines that help ensure equity of grants. Lourdes Rodriguez said, “We were forced into change. It was both exciting and terrifying.”
It’s clear from our discussion that eliminating the tech divide will take innovation, agility and experimentation from organizations like the Women’s Fund and the nonprofits that we invest in. Join us to work to ensure that COVID-19 doesn’t leave the women of Central Texas behind.