The USBG National Charity Foundation announces that after disbursing more than 32,000 grants totaling $9.5 million, it will close its Bartender Emergency Assistance Program COVID-19 Relief Campaign at the end of August. Donations to the Bartender Emergency Assistance Program continue to be needed and will be distributed to bartenders in need, all of whom continue to be impacted by the pandemic.
Via the campaign, modest, yet meaningful emergency grants of $150-500 drawn from generous donations have been allocated to as many eligible applicants as possible so as to be as impactful as possible. These emergency grants were intended to supplement federal relief programs that are designed to help with larger, sustained expenses.
“The Foundation’s Bartender Emergency Assistance Program exists to serve as many in our industry as possible in their time of need,” said Aaron Gregory Smith, Executive Director of the USBG National Charity Foundation. “We are extremely proud of our team’s efforts and of the over 500 volunteers who gave of themselves to help support our industry, and are thankful for our donors whose generosity lifted up more than 30,000 people from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands who work in every kind of bar imaginable, from tiny craft cocktail dens, the neighborhood bar around the corner, and sports bars to bowling alleys, chain restaurants, and the VFW.”
Statistics as of August 25:
- Total grants disbursed: More than 32,000
- Total $ committed: $9.5 million
- Total initial applications: More than 295,000
- Total donors: More than 4,700
- Total volunteers: More than 500
- Total volunteer hours: More than 11,000
- Donors and supporters to date
Average grant recipient profile:
- 85% bartenders; 13% bar servers; 2% other
- Is between the ages of 30 and 39
- Has worked in the bar industry full-time for 10+ years
- Has 1+ dependents
- Has an average household income of less than $50,000 per year
What is the purpose of the Bartender Emergency Assistance Program?
BEAP was created in 2015 and has since operated continuously to assist qualified bartenders, bar backs, and bar servers in need of financial assistance as a result of a catastrophic event or an emergency hardship. The USBG National Charity Foundation adheres to a strict set of procedures in order to ensure that recipients are selected on an objective and nondiscriminatory basis.
Bartender Emergency Assistance Program – Ramping up in a pandemic
Between 2015-16, the USBG National Charity Foundation received a total of 15 applications for its Bartender Emergency Assistance Program. That number jumped to 111 in 2017. 105 of those were related to Hurricane Harvey. Between 2018-19, it received a total of 66 applications. This year, that number jumped again to 682. 678 of those were for relief in the wake of the Tennessee tornadoes. In March, as businesses closed and word got around that the Foundation would distribute grants for COVID-19 relief, the number of initial applicants swiftly rose from 40,000 applicants in the first few days to 80,000. Then, seemingly overnight, swelled to an unbelievable quarter of a million applicants who needed assistance. When the Foundation paused accepting applications in mid-June, it had received just shy of 300,000 initial applications.
In order to process the extraordinary number of applications, the Foundation shifted its screening process from one that allows for one-on-one, personalized assistance, to a standardized form which meant bartenders, bar backs, and cocktail servers – people who specialize in person-to-person interaction – suddenly had to become experts in data entry, all while their world crumbled around them. That led to errors like email addresses with typos or leaving out critical information such as occupation (these grants are specifically for people like bartenders, bar backs, and cocktail servers).
A system that was set up to help a few hundred applicants scaled up to assist hundreds of thousands in a matter of weeks in the middle of a pandemic. Despite recruiting and training nearly 500 volunteers to screen applications, application processing was slower than the monthly processing timeline normally employed by the USBG Foundation.
Commented Gregory Smith, “The USBG Foundation and the United States Bartenders’ Guild will continue doing all it can to serve as a professional and personal resource as well as a welcoming, unifying presence within the hospitality community. We remain hopeful that bars and bartenders will emerge from this crisis and continue to be a conduit for camaraderie and connection.”
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Tune into the USBG National Charity Foundation’s weekly Instagram Live briefing @usbgncf on Thursday, August 27 at noon Pacific/3 p.m. Eastern.