We’ve officially reached Day One Hundred And Who Can Even Say Anymore in America’s fight against COVID-19 and one thing is certain: we have no idea what we are doing. We as a country have no real, unified plan for minimize the loss of life due to the pandemic nor mitigate its effect on the economy. Short of waiting for it to just disappear, at least. And as the federal government remains gridlocked over how feckless they’d like the next stimulus package to be, small businesses around the country are closing up for good, unable to survive month after month of extremely hamstrung earnings.
This has left many businesses and employees looking to crowdfunding initiatives to make ends meet. One such initiative is ComeTogether. A collaborative effort by Fellow, Glitter Cat, Go Fund Bean, and design firm Mage, ComeTogether is a cafe fund to help specialty coffee shops struggling during COVID-19, and it is focusing on those owned by underrepresented or marginalized groups within the industry.
Originally set up as a clearinghouse of sorts, where folks could donate to virtual tip jars and buy merch or coffee from cafes around the country, ComeTogether pivoted to work primarily on fundraising efforts after it became “clear the financial deficit due to the COVID-19 pandemic is greater than originally anticipated,” particularly for “small businesses owned by minorities and marginalized individuals,” per the website. Thus the cafe fund was born.
In a blog post announcing the creation of the fund, ComeTogether states that the entirety of the fund will be “reserved for those who self-identify as being a member of an underrepresented or marginalized group in the coffee industry including but not limited to: BIPOC, disabled, LGBTQIA+, womxn, and racial and ethnic minorities,” and further that “50% of the fund is reserved for Black-owned/co-owned businesses.” Per the post, the grants are not limited to coffee companies owned by underrepresented or marginalized groups but will take into consideration businesses who “hire diversely.”
In order to be considered, businesses need to fill out the application by the August 31st deadline, which includes business information, a statement of need, proof of financial loss/hardship, and two letters of recommendation. All applications will be then reviewed by a “committee of five individuals within the specialty coffee community” comprised to Umeko Motoyoshi (Umeshiso, A Better Table podcast), Michelle Johnson (The Chocolate Barista, Sprudge Editor at Large), Kristina Jackson (Intelligentsia, Boston Intersectional Coffee Collective), Anita Tam (Slow Pour Supply, USBC Head Tech Judge), and Phyllis Johnson (BD Imports) to decide how grants are awarded.
For those looking to contribute, there are two ways to get involved. For donations made directly to coffee professionals affected by COVID-19, follow the link to Go Fund Bean, where a list of companies around the country as well as their associated virtual tip jars are given. To donate to the ComeTogether cafe fund, follow the link on the website. As of writing this, the fund has received nearly $3,000 in donations.
With no real end to the COVID-19 pandemic in sight nor anything in the way of relief or plan coming from the US government, it is yet again up to the people to take action. And while donating to causes like ComeTogether can only act as a band-aid for a wound requiring much more serious treatment, it is nonetheless one of the only options available for those wanting to make an impact, however small or temporary it may be. So if you can, please give. And wear a mask. It may not be much but it's all we've got.
Top image via ComeTogether.coffee