Giving Marin article by: Liz Saint John
As a nonprofit champion of immigrants, Canal Alliance educates, empowers, supports and partners with immigrants and their families to help them meet their unique needs. This ranges from putting food on the table, to becoming U.S. citizens, to learning English, to graduating from college, to accessing training that leads to living wage jobs and career-path employment. Each year, the San Rafael-based organization helps thousands of individuals who are on a pathway toward creating a better life for themselves and their families.
Latino families in Marin have faced unprecedented and disproportionate health, financial and educational impacts resulting from the pandemic. Thanks to the generosity of the community, including a $5,000 grant from the Giving Marin Community Partnership, Canal Alliance continues to deliver emergency services and help Latino youth and adults on the pathway to long-term success.
To reduce the spread of COVID-19, Canal Alliance launched new public health efforts, including free testing, contact tracing and vaccination registration services. As a result, the Canal neighborhood, which once had the highest positivity rates for the virus, is nearing full immunity, Canal Alliance leaders say.
To help those who lost jobs and wages, Canal Alliance launched a Financial Assistance Program, which raised and distributed $3 million in direct cash assistance to 5,000 families, and distributed $800,000 in rental assistance.
To bridge the digital divide, Canal Alliance delivered Chromebooks and hotpots to students, and partnered on the implementation of a neighborhood mesh WiFi network to serve 2,000 students living in the Canal neighborhood.
To support those on a long-term path to success, Immigration Legal Services transitioned overnight to a virtual law firm, and education and workforce programs for youth and adults shifted to offer services remotely: students in middle school and high school received online tutoring support, college students received case management and $160,000 in scholarships, and adults continued to access English language, citizenship, business and construction skills classes. Despite the pandemic, the Workforce Program maintains an 87% one-year job retention rate.
The pandemic exposed the depth of structural inequities and provided opportunities for systemic change. As an example, the Canal Policy Working Group, which was formed to support pandemic recovery as a cross-sector collaboration with leadership by Canal Alliance, has successfully advocated for eviction moratorium and rent freeze policies that are keeping Marin County residents in their homes.
With the support of community members, Canal Alliance is committed to breaking barriers for low-income Latino residents and building a more equitable Marin where everyone can live, learn, work and succeed. For information, visit canalalliance.org.
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