Relief Fund for Chinatown-International District Small Businesses Raises $750K and Provides Aid to 165 Businesses
The Chinatown International District (CID) Restaurants and other Small Businesses Relief Fund announced today that the fund has raised over $750K, and has provided direct financial aid to 165 small businesses that suffered revenue losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Qualified businesses have received between $1,500-$5,000 over the course of the fund.
“We are humbled by the diversity of donors and support for the Biz Relief Fund. Between small and large donations, each supporter feels some connection or responsibility to the CID. That is an amazing thing to see. What this tells us is that people care deeply about the resilience and recovery of the CID and that people know that their collective efforts can go a long way,” said Valerie Tran, Friends of Little Saigon (FLS) Operations Director.
The fund has issued three rounds of grant distributions to small businesses in the CID, with over $640K granted thus far. The remaining funds will be held for businesses that have yet to claim their grants from earlier rounds, businesses repairing storefront damage from the weekend of May 30 & 31, and to prepare for further aid in the event of shutdowns due to increases in COVID-19 cases.
The relief fund — which is co-managed by the CID Business Relief Team, a conglomerate of community-based organizations that includes the Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDpda), CID Business Improvement Area (CIDBIA), and Friends of Little Saigon (FLS) — reached the fundraising landmark of $750K with support from various funding sources and over 1500 individual contributions.
The fund began with an initial seed of $100K from Vulcan, Inc. in mid-March and was intended as direct funding for restaurants. Knowing there would be a broader need for relief among the neighborhood’s business community, the CID Business Relief Team ran an online charitable giving campaign that raised over $200K in online donations, personal checks, and donor-advised fund distributions by early July.
Many individual donors donated with employer matches, including a group of Google employees known as “Asians at Google” that raised $15K for the relief fund. Additionally, $18K was raised by employees of other companies with employer matches.
An additional $165K was raised from foundations and corporate donors, including Historic South Downtown, Lucky 7 Foundation, Union Bank, JP Morgan Chase, and the Rave Foundation. Several businesses founded in the Chinatown International District, including Uwajimaya, Pho Bac, and TDW+Co., also donated.
In late-April, Sibyl Frankenburg and Steven Kessel reached out to the fund managers to donate $250K in Amazon stock to the relief fund, which were immediately sold to fund further grant rounds of relief aid.
“The outpouring of contributions to the relief fund has allowed our team to distribute more funding rounds than originally imagined. We hope the attention and support for our neighborhood can sustain as the needs of our community continue to grow and evolve,” said Jamie Lee, SCIDpda Director of Community Initiatives.
The fund is still open and accepting donations. The fund managers plan to distribute 100% of the fund to small businesses in the CID, as originally intended.
Team Support of Other Emergency Small Business Grants
CID Business Relief Team staff has provided outreach, translation and application support for a number of other COVID-19 small business grant sources. With the CID Business Relief Team’s support, over 100 businesses received roughly $700,000 worth of funds through these grants. These include the City of Seattle’s Small Business Stabilization Fund, a special partnership with CRAFT3 / JP Morgan Chase for an invitation-only grant program which the Team directed to legacy businesses, the RAVE Foundation (the Sounders), and Working Washington (State Department of Commerce).
A True Collaboration
While the entities involved in the CID Business Relief Team collaborate year-round across issues related to economic development of the Chinatown International District, this COVID-19 response of the team is the most intentional and unified effort of the organizations to share, align, and combine resources to best serve businesses in the CID.
In addition to founding and managing the CID Restaurants and other Small Businesses Relief Fund, the CID Business Relief Team conducts neighborhood-wide outreach, interpretation, and translation of small business relief information, including available grants, loans, and other types of relief (i.e. utility and tax deferment, eviction moratoriums, etc.), shares guidance on safe reopening, and distributes PPE.
To date, no businesses in the CID have permanently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Donors can donate and find information about the fund at bit.ly/cidbizrelief. Press inquiries and general inquiries related to the fund can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.