We sat down with our Vice President of Programs, Stacey Williams, to chat about MCC’s new Temporary Relief Fund. The fund was developed as a way to distribute limited financial assistance to our corps members who are experiencing unexpected financial hardship that impacts their ability to serve with us. Read on to learn more about why this fund is a priority for MCC, and the impact it has on our corps members.
MCC: Why was the Temporary Relief Fund created?
S: Our corps members are experiencing rising financial pressures as a result of the housing crisis and inflation. We are increasingly seeing members struggle and express stress about lack of safety net. They are sometimes one medical emergency away from financial distress. In fact, two years ago, retention was the lowest it’s been at MCC. We view this Fund as a major strategy to help mitigate this.
MCC: How does this model differ from the way MCC dispersed aid in the past?
S: We wanted to formalize an avenue to support members when they encounter hardship. We had done this in past to disperse money to corps members with underrepresented identities. However, now we have a formal process with a rubric that considers need and the amount requested. This ensures better access and greater equity.
MCC: How do corps members access the fund?
S: Every corps member is eligible to apply as long as they are at least two weeks into their term of service. We announce it during their orientation. Requests are made via a secure application, get reviewed within 10 days, and then dispersed within next paycheck
MCC: How is the Temporary Relief Fund funded?
S: It is 100% funded by a grant from the Kendeda Fund.
MCC: Why do you think that it’s important for MCC to offer financial assistance to corps members?
S: Members give a lot to our communities for very little pay. While we feel proud of the transformative experience that many participants have, fulfilling their service can get complicated amidst the economic landscape of this moment. It’s necessary for us to be responsive to our members when they encounter burdens and have increased need.
MCC: Can you share an example of how a corps member has used the Temporary Relief Fund to help meet a critical need before or during their term of service?
S: In the 3 months since the fund has been opened (since January 18th), we’ve served 9 individuals, distributing a total of $5,325. Some needs have included: 1) Supporting a member when they encountered an unexpected loss in housing that required that they have a rental deposit in 2 weeks time; 2) Helping members with a vehicle repair that impeded their ability to get to their service sites; 3) Helping a member who was serving with extreme dental pain access care
MCC: What else is MCC doing to respond to the challenges that corps members face?
S: Another way we’re being responsive is by increasing corps member stipends. For the past 2 years, we’ve increased corps member stipends by 20%! We’re looking to increase stipends again in 2024.