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Emma Lazarus Resilience Fund

April 19, 2021

City of Dallas and CFT partner to establish financial assistance fund


"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door." - Emma Lazarus, American Poet

CFT has partnered with the City of Dallas Office of Welcoming Communities and Immigrant Affairs (WCIA) and the Open Society Foundations (OSF) to establish the Emma Lazarus Resilience Fund, a public-private effort providing $600,000 in financial assistance to individuals and families ineligible for federal COVID-19 relief programs.

The $600,000 has been disbursed by nonprofits to 813 Dallas families in the span of five months who have been severely impacted by COVID-19, prioritizing those who are out of reach of the federal relief programs, including immigrant workers who play a vital role in the city’s economy.

CFT, together with WCIA, will select nonprofits with demonstrated track records serving immigrant families in Dallas. The intention is to leverage this initial funding to attract additional funding sources from private individuals and foundations in Dallas.

Our team at CFT is thrilled to partner with the City to deploy much-needed funds to residents of Dallas who are ineligible for federal COVID-19 stimulus relief,” said Sarah Cotton Nelson, chief philanthropy officer at CFT. “CFT and the City are both dedicated to supporting our most vulnerable community members during this unprecedented time. This investment and collaboration with local nonprofits will help support individuals and families with critical needs during the era of COVID-19.

The Emma Lazarus Resilience Fund was named after the American Poet whose words, " Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" are inscribed on a bronze plaque on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.

Update as of 4/19/21: The community-based organizations that were selected for funding include: Catholic Charities of Dallas, Inc.Center for Survivors of TortureChildren's Food MinistryCommunity Action OrganizersFamily Independence InitiativeHeard That FoundationImmSchoolsInternational Rescue CommitteeMi Familia Vota Education Fund, Open Arms, Inc. dba Bryan's HouseRosa Es Rojo, Inc., The ConcilioThe Stewpot of First Presbyterian ChurchUNT Dallas FoundationWilkinson Center and Workers Defense Project.  

"The organizations were selected based on a demonstrated track record of serving immigrant and refugee communities in Dallas," said City of Dallas Chief of Equity and Inclusion Liz Cedillo-Pereira. "It's important that we work with community groups that have strong relationships with immigrant and refugee families to ensure that we are providing support to those in need during this difficult time."  

CFT is administering the funds to each organization with an established application process to receive assistance. Funds will be distributed as one-time support of $500 directed to smaller families or families with more access to resources and up to $1,000 in one-time support to larger families or families with less access to additional resources. Individuals should contact the organization to learn more information on how to apply for funds.

"Communities Foundation of Texas' vision is 'thriving communities for all’. We're proud to partner with the City of Dallas to deploy much needed financial resources to residents through local nonprofits working directly with our neighbors most negatively impacted by COVID-19," said Dave Scullin, president and CEO, Communities Foundation of Texas.

The Emma Lazarus Resilience Fund was created in July with a contribution of $500,000 from the Open Society Foundation. Now, with a recent donation of $100,000 from United Way Metropolitan Dallas, a total of $600,000 will provide more support to families in need. Organizations will disburse the funds based on priority to immigrant and refugee families who have been severely financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including those who are out of reach of federal relief programs, as well as for immigrant workers who play a vital role in the city's economy.

“United Way Metropolitan Dallas is proud to partner with the PepsiCo Foundation to provide critical COVID response and recovery resources through our Southern Dallas Thrives initiative,” said McDermott-Templeton President and United Way Metropolitan Dallas CEO Jennifer Sampson. “The investment of $100,000 to the Emma Lazarus Fund will impact hundreds of immigrant families in need, who were excluded from being able to receive federal benefits granted to American families as a result of the pandemic. Southern Dallas Thrives is proud to support this work, and provide necessary resources to our neighbors and residents during this critical time.” 

Establishing the Emma Lazarus Resilience Fund and partnerships aligns with the City's Welcoming Dallas Strategic Plan. Under the pillar of Equitable Access, the City of Dallas aims to continue partner with organizations to eliminate barriers to accessing services and programs so that the opportunities of the community are available to all residents.

“America is the land of opportunity, but, too often, access to that opportunity is not shared equally. The Open Society Foundations is proud to partner with the City of Dallas to support immigrant and refugee workers and families who have borne the brunt of the economic crises exacerbated by COVID 19,” said Patrick Gaspard, president of Open Society Foundations. “The global pandemic has laid bare our country’s greatest inequities – but none more devastating than the toll on immigrants who have been purposely excluded from federal support. We are confident that the resources provided by the Emma Lazarus Resilience Fund to the city and its trusted community based partners will help those most in need—not just in this moment of crisis but in the long-term as well—and encourage others to join us in supporting this worthy cause.”

To learn more about the Emma Lazarus Resilience Fund, visit  

To donate to the fund, visit

Read the Fall IMPACT magazine here

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