Via the campaign, modest, yet meaningful emergency grants of $150-500 drawn from generous donations were 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.
Said Genevieve Porter, Senior Foundation Program Manager, “We are proud to report that the Bartender Emergency Assistance Program’s COVID-19 Relief Campaign was able to provide meaningful financial assistance grants to tens of thousands of hospitality industry professionals during the height of the 2020 COVID-19 crisis. We want to thank both our industry donors and our 4,500 individual donors who made these grants possible. Through your charitable giving, we disbursed $9.6M to help Serve Those Who Serve Us.”
USBG National Charity Foundation Executive Director Aaron Gregory Smith said, “Our industry faces ongoing challenges, and though there is no silver bullet for this crisis. We know our campaign has made a meaningful difference in 32,000 lives and that includes hospitality professionals representative of every kind of bar you can think of in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. From tiny craft cocktail bars to high-volume sports bars, bowling alleys, cruise lines, neighborhood taverns, chain restaurants, and even the VFW, we were able to connect bartenders from diverse communities with support.”
- Number of Grants Awarded: 32,000
- Total Funds Distributed: $9.6 million
- Number of Complete Grant Applications Received: 65,000
- Average Grant Amount: $300
- Percentage by Profession of Grant Recipients: 84% bartenders; 14% bar servers; 2% other
- Total Number of Donors: 4,700 (including 4,500 individual donors and 200 corporate donors)
- Total Number of Volunteers: 700
- Number of Donated Volunteer Hours: 23,000
- Donors and supporters to date
What is the purpose of the Bartender Emergency Assistance Program?
The purpose of the Bartender Emergency Assistance Program is to help those in the bar industry who require financial assistance as a result of a catastrophic event or an emergency hardship such as an accident, acute medical diagnosis, or wind, water, earth, or fire-related natural disasters. The BEAP is here to support bartenders in their time of need. Our goal is to award grants to as many qualified industry members as possible every year. We strive to ensure that the BEAP is sustained as a safety net for those in the industry who need it most.
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 nearly 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 more than 700 volunteers to screen applications, application processing was slower than the monthly processing timeline normally employed by the USBG Foundation.
Said Smith, “2020 was a year of incredible growth, change, and flexibility for the USBG National Charity Foundation. The unwavering support of volunteers, donors, and staff was instrumental to the success of this grant program.”
Tune in this Thursday, January 14, for “The Foundation Weekly” on Instagram Live @usbgncf at noon Pacific/3 p.m. Eastern. USBG National Charity Foundation Senior Foundation Program Manager Genevieve Porter will join host Kim Haasarud to discuss further the COVID-19 Relief Campaign.