COVID-19 Resources: Opportunities for women and families

covid response sign closed

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused a fundamental shift across the world, from loss of employment, school closures, social distancing, and everything in between.  In order to support you through this difficult time, here are some resources that are available for women and families.

Grants and Loans for Businesses and the Self-Employed

Several different grants and loans are available through various agencies, from the Federal Government level down to private sources. Here are some examples

Texas Women’s University Center for Women Entrepreneurs AssistHer Emergency Relief Grant

Funds available from this grant can be used to help sustain your business during economic hardship due to COVID-19. The application form and requirements can be found here.

Business for All Grants by Houston Company Hello Alice

Hello Alice has launched Business for All, which will provide funding and mentorship to small business owners. Half of new businesses have a minority founder and yet only received 2 percent of annual venture capital. Business For All will distribute up to $200,000 in grants sized between $10,000 and $50,000. The startups will be selected through a nomination process and will focus on founders who are women, people of color, LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs, military affiliated business owners, and entrepreneurs with disabilities, according to the release. Apply for the grant here.

Harris County COVID-19 Forgivable Loan Program

The Houston-Galveston Area Council is offering zero-interest, forgivable loans to utilize for working capital costs including payroll, accounts payable, rent, mortgage, and other costs.  Details and the application form are available here.

US Small Business Administration Disaster Loan Assistance

The US Small Business Administration (SBA) offers loans to small businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The application is available online here.

US Department of the Treasury Paycheck Protection Program

The Paycheck Protection Program had authorized loans of up to $349 billion for job retention purposes.  The loans are available through banks and other lenders.  As of April 22nd, the program has currently expended its funds, but additional funds may be added to allow the program to resume at a later date.  Further details are available here.

Assistance for Individuals

Stimulus Checks 

Checks have started to reach individuals across the United States. Most adults will get $1,200 as part of the stimulus package signed into action, although some will get less. For every qualifying child age 16 or under, the payment will be an additional $500. If you haven’t received your check in your bank account yet, it could be that you had to pay money back last year. The IRS does not keep your banking information in such case and you’ll have to enter your information on their website. To view your payment’s status with the IRS, click here.

Paid Sick Leave via the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

This act ensures that you can receive two weeks paid sick leave if you are quarantined or become ill. It also has provisions if you’re forced to stay home with your children due to school closures. However, not all companies apply for this provision. For full details, visit the Department of Labor’s website.

Unemployment Benefits

The stimulus package also expands unemployment benefits. Eligible workers will get an extra $600 per week on top of their state benefit, until July 31. However, long lines and outdated systems has made it difficult to get in touch with the Texas Workforce Commission. You can use their online portals 24/7 via their website.

Houston Food Bank

The Houston Food Bank has a centralized page for their partners for food assistance. Please don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need food assistance. 

Student Loans

The federal government has waived two months of payments and interest for many federal student loan borrowers. Until Sept. 30, there will be automatic payment suspensions for any student loan held by the federal government, and it’s retroactive to March 13. Check your status online with your lender. 

Virtual education and entertainment for you and your family

The Women’s Resource Financial Education Classes

The Women’s Resource has always offered free classes to women looking to improve their financial situation or credit. Since the stay-at-home order, we have transitioned those classes online via Zoom. You may learn more and register here.

Houston ISD

HISD has launched an online home-based education page for use while schools are closed.  Lessons and resources are available here.

Houston Museum of Natural Science

The Museum of Natural Science (HMNS) has provided online access to their exhibitions through the Google Cultural Collections.  The current collections are available for viewing here.

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

The Museum of Fine Arts is offering virtual access to their collection, along with film screenings, lectures, and other activities.  Details are available on the MFAH website. 

Houston Zoo: Bringing the Zoo to You

The Houston Zoo is hosting Facebook Live videos every weekday at 11 AM CST to provide updates on the animals and offer educational activities for students.  Past videos are available here.

Houston Symphony

The Houston Symphony is broadcasting performances over the radio, as well as providing video access to past performances.  Details are available here.

Society for the Performing Arts

The Society for the Performing Arts has launched the SPA Creative Connection initiative to allow artist to share their performances and how they are coping with the pandemic through the SPA’s media channels. Details are available here.

Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center

The JCC is offering virtual programs including exercise, learning, and more.  The program schedule and archive of past videos is available here.

YMCA Houston

The YMCA has numerous programs available on their website for adults and children, including education, workout routines, and live classes. Details are available here.

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