Coronavirus updates: News to help deal with the pandemic crisis

Following are reports which came to Urban Times after the April issue went to press on March 24:
1. LISC forms two partnerships to help small businesses
2. Historical Society launches initiative to collect our personal stories
3. Food “Pop-Up” distribution sites available for families
4. Benjamin Harrison site to host a ‘virtual’ egg roll on April 4

REPORT ONE: LISC forms two partnerships to help small business

Local Initiatives Support Corporation has formed two partnerships to help small businesses who have been affected by COVID-19. Both financial resources are/will be available for Indianapolis small businesses.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy,” said Tedd Grain, executive director of LISC Indianapolis, “providing essential jobs, services and life to Indianapolis neighborhoods. With these two programs, we can help breathe life into our small businesses threatened by the COVID-19 crisis. We specifically invite neighborhood entrepreneurs of color, women-owned businesses and other enterprises in historically under-appreciated neighborhoods of Indianapolis to apply.”

Verizon: Pay it Forward Live. First,Verizon announced the launch of Pay it Forward Live, a weekly streaming entertainment series that will include music, gaming, comedy and more in support of small businesses affected by COVID-19. Understanding the toll of small businesses closing their doors to help fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Verizon will donate $2.5 million to LISC, a national nonprofit that has invested $20 billion to fuel economic opportunity for people and communities across America.

LISC will use the funds to provide grants of up to $10,000 to businesses facing immediate financial pressure because of COVID-19, especially entrepreneurs of color, women-owned businesses and other enterprises that don’t have access to flexible, affordable capital in historically underserved communities. LISC will launch an online process for small businesses to submit applications for grants (sign up here to stay updated on the process). Applications will be reviewed and then entered into a lottery. The grants are designed to help business owners fill urgent financial gaps – from paying rent to meeting payroll – until they can resume normal operations or other financing becomes available.

The weekly series will debut on Thursday, March 26, at 8 p.m. with a performance from Dave Matthews. The concerts will stream live at 8 p.m. on Twitter @verizon and on Yahoo Entertainment. Over the course of the series, all viewers who tune in will be encouraged to tag their favorite local businesses and make a purchase in advance for when the crisis is over and the businesses reopen. As consumers engage, Verizon will unlock an additional $2.5 million in funds, bringing the total donation to a potential $5 million nationwide. 

Kiva: Crowdfunded Loans. Kiva, an international crowdlending platform with which LISC has a partnership, has expanded its eligibility and loan size. Kiva loans are 0% interest and zero fee for the borrower and are great for early stage small businesses with a broad social network. LISC can match loans from the crowd dollar for dollar for a total loan amount of up to $15,000. The proceeds can be used for working capital, equipment and inventory.

Effective immediately, U.S. applicants for a Kiva loan will have access to the following:

  • Expanded eligibility: More businesses in the US will be eligible for a Kiva loan
  • Larger loans: The maximum loan on the Kiva platform will increase from $10,000 to $15,000
  • Grace period: New borrowers may access a grace period of up to 6 months for greater financial flexibility

Bankable, an Indiana-based CDFI, will serve as a regional Kiva Hub providing technical assistance and other support to Kiva borrowers.

REPORT TWO: Indiana Historical Society Launches collecting initiative, inviting Hoosiers to share stories via IHS online portal

The Indiana Historical Society is launching a collecting initiative to document the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on Indiana in real time.
IHS requests the input and collaboration of Hoosiers throughout the state for Telling Your Story: Documenting COVID-19 in Indiana. Hoosiers are encouraged to send writings, photos, drawings and even short videos to IHS via an online form — helping capture this unique historical moment so future generations can understand what this experience was like for Hoosiers.
To submit your stories, photos and other items, please visit:
“While this situation feels new to many of us, history shows what we’re experiencing is hardly unique — just a couple of examples are the Spanish Flu in 1918 and the Asian Flu in 1957,” said IHS President and CEO Jody Blankenship. “In addition to looking to the past for lessons, it’s also important we take time to document what’s happening right now. Capturing the stories of individuals, families, businesses and communities is essential to providing future generations valuable lessons and perspectives that can help shape actions in their time.”
The IHS has collected items that document Indiana’s past since 1830. There are thousands of letters, diaries, scrapbooks, photographs, slides, albums and graphics in the IHS archives documenting the Hoosier experience. And now, IHS wants to add the story of how Hoosiers and their families are understanding and experiencing the current “new normal” of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Items in our collection let us hear the voices and see the people from our past who are living all the ranges of human experience and emotion,” Blankenship said. “It’s a rare occurrence that we get to collect history in real time, but that’s what we’re experiencing right now. Future researchers and visitors to the Indiana Historical Society will have Hoosiers today to thank for sharing a part of their lives for others to understand our current lived experience.”
To learn more about the “Telling Your Story: Documenting COVID-19 in Indiana” collecting initiative, visit:

REPORT THREE: Food pop-up distribution sites available for families

The Office of Public Health and Safety and the Indianapolis Department of Public Works has joined Midwest Food Bank, grassroots partner B4UFALL, and local churches to announce pop-up distribution sites aimed at providing healthy produce and dairy items to families in need. Food access and distribution is considered an essential need under the Stay-At-Home Orders issued by Gov. Eric Holcomb, Mayor Joe Hogsett, and Dr. Virginia Caine with the Marion County Public Health Department.

“The Indianapolis community is doing what it does best – stepping up to help neighbors who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Hogsett. “Thank you to the volunteers and community partners for answering the call to service, helping to ensure that the basic needs of our city’s families are met during this unprecedented time.”

The distribution began Wednesday, March 25, but there are two more opportunities this week for families to drive up to three distribution sites across the city to receive fresh, nutritious food, free of charge. Those dates are Friday, March 27, from 1 to 3 p.m. and 6 tgo 8 p.m., and Saturday, March 28, from 1 to 3 p.m. The locations are:

  • Site #1: Hovey Street Church of Christ, 2338 Hovey St.
  • Site #2: Barnes United Methodist Church, 900 West 30th St.
  • Site #3: Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, 1301 N. Goodlet Ave.

Future pop-up distribution sites are to be determined and will be announced in advance of distribution.

“As the cascading effects of COVID-19 virus come to light, Midwest Food Bank is prepared to offer any resources available to us to continue to care for Hoosiers that are at risk and need of food assistance,” said John Whitaker, executive director of Midwest Food Bank. “We count it a privilege to work with city officials and Mayor Hogsett on a collaborative effort to provide a pop-up distribution model for fresh produce to those in Marion County who are in need.”

“The epitome of a grassroots organization being the conduit which food and resources get into the homes of our most vulnerable citizens is a great benefit for our community and shows that working together works,” said Shane Shepherd, CEO of B4UFALL.

Residents and affected workers impacted by COVID-19 restrictions should visit the city’s resource guide, which can be viewed at Spanish speaking residents can view the resource guide here. Individuals who are unable to navigate the city’s website can call 317-327-4MAC between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. to talk to a customer service representative.

REPORT FOUR: Harrison Presidential Site coordinating a ‘virtual’ egg roll

The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site’s Presidential Egg Roll has quickly become a favorite Indianapolis holiday tradition. While they have suspended this year’s public event on the Presidential Site’s grounds to help control the spread of COVID-19, Hoosiers can still participate in this annual tradition from home! On April 4, the Presidential Site invites everyone to stage their own (Family) Egg Roll — from their very own backyard. Just have phones and social media posts at the ready!

All participants need is 1 egg, 1 spoon, a participant and at least 25 feet of yard, sidewalk or driveway to roll the egg. Winner’s tape is optional. The Presidential Site will be awarding prizes in three categories—best dressed egg rollers (12 and under), best decorated egg and best egg course. Just remember social distancing and keeping the (Family) Egg Roll to your immediate family members to help ensure good health and public safety!

Watch the Presidential Site’s Facebook page (@BenjaminHarrisonPresidentialSite) and Instagram (presbenjaminharrison) for a Presidential Egg Roll tutorial straight from the source. We ask participants to share their photo or video entries on social media by using the hashtag #2020PresidentialEggRoll.

Look for a tutorial coming on the process.