Fair Chance is a Washington, D.C. based organization founded in 2002 to help strengthen the efforts of local non-profits, particularly those combating the effects of poverty on children. The leaders at Fair Chance and WillowTree have been well-acquainted since our beginnings, and the current COVID-19 crisis has led to a new, pressing need for us to collaborate.
Amanda Marshall, the founder of Fair Chance, recognized the need caused by the pandemic for sustaining and providing food to families affected by poverty. While there are food pantries in place throughout Washington, D.C., some families may have limited access to transportation, and could be putting themselves at higher risk for contracting COVID-19 by leaving the home to pick up food.
Amanda, along with her husband and four young boys, created Families4Families DMV to help consistently provide groceries to families in need in the DMV area during this time. This mutual aide program enables families and individuals who have the means to do so to donate a week’s worth of groceries to a family in need, with the process facilitated by the Marshall family and the families4familiesdmv.org website.
Each week, the Marshall family highlights one of the non-profit organizations who are a part of the Fair Chance network, and that non-profit provides information on approximately 15 families who are in need of assistance. The Families4Families website provides a downloadable grocery list and a scheduling portal for the donating families to sign up, and volunteers then drop of groceries to the Marshall family, who has set up distribution from their home in Chevy Chase, MD.
A number of WillowTree team members have provided their support in the production, design, and maintenance of the Squarespace website, including Chief Product Officer Blake Sirach, Principal Product Strategist Margo Bulka, Senior Product Designer Bekah Brameyer, and Content Strategist Guion Pratt. Margo Bulka, who also used Squarespace to produce the SupportCville website, noted some of the unique solutions that the team came up with to transform the tool’s scheduling functionality into a donor platform. The team was able to create features such as push notifications sent to the donating families to ensure that the grocery drop-off process was easy and seamless.
In the first week that Families4Families began its program, they were able to donate 900 meals to families in the DMV area. We have heard that there is tremendous momentum around the initiative locally, and that other cities are interested in replicating the model. Update from April 29, 2020: Families4Families has provided over 15,000 meals to families in need.
We are proud and grateful to support Families4Families and Fair Chance — their efforts to create mutual aide programs that enable individuals to help other individuals, and families to help other families, mirrors the collaboration and partnership that we aim to foster at WillowTree.