The GroundBreakers Network, a global network of civic innovators and community leaders, has launched a live “COVID-19 Community Resource Map” to highlight resources available to local communities impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The map is currently used and shared by thousands of community leaders to bring resources to those most in need of help in their communities, according to GroundBreakers.
By clicking on the map, users can find what’s available near them in terms of testing sites, meal relief, unemployment support, homeless shelters, and community-based mutual aid.
“Whether you are an elementary school student in need of meal relief or a recently unemployed adult, we want to increase awareness of the resources that are available,” GroundBreakers co-founder Rara Reines said in a podcast hosted by Vital Voices CEO Alyse Nelson.
GroundBreakers’ goal is to make community resources as visible and as accessible as possible to meet growing needs in the country, Reines explained in the podcast.
U.S. unemployment rose from 6.2 million in February to 20.5 million in May — an increase of 14.3 million unemployed — which far exceeds the unemployment increase of 8.8 million in the two years of the Great Recession, according to Pew Research.
And food banks across the country are facing unprecedented demand. For example, demand at Feeding San Diego’s 300 distribution sites has gone up at least 40‒50 percent, while the Food Bank of Alaska is facing about 75 percent more demand than usual, according to The Atlantic.
GroundBreakers is working with local food banks and governments, as well as national nonprofits, to provide as much up-to-date information as possible to those in need.
“Combining spreadsheets circulated by community activists with advanced mapping software, this map is a critical resource to us due to the breadth and depth of available COVID-19 resources,” Bree Gaddy, a community organizer based in the San Francisco Bay Area who collects data from communities nationwide, said in a press release. “There is the potential for government entities, social service organizations, and mutual aid groups to continue using the real-time map to service gaps and channel resources to those areas.”
What started as a grassroots effort in Washington, D.C., has grown into a nationwide effort fueled by volunteers and key institutional partners.
In the first three weeks of the initiative alone, volunteers had already mapped more than 12,000 available resources in the country.
And the organization is urging community leaders to add their available resources to the map. “If you are aware of or leading coronavirus response resources in your community, please share that location so the effort can aid those who need it most,” Reines said in the release.
Susan Chu is a writer and editor who likes to write about trends in higher education.