BET’s Saving Our Selves: A COVID-19 Relief Effort

For 95 years, United Way of Southeast Louisiana has been a trusted partner in improving lives in Jefferson, Orleans, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Plaquemines, and Washington parishes.

Here then. Here today. Here tomorrow.

United Way of Southeast Louisiana’s vision of equitable communities where all individuals are healthy, educated, and economically stable allows us to view poverty through an equity lens, which heightens our concern about the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the African American community in New Orleans. Through a partnership with BET and United Way World Wide, we are able to address and provide financial relief to those hardest hit by COVID-19.

To date, this effort has raised more than $18.4 million to support the work of the local United Ways in these cities and provided timely, immediate relief to roughly 1,731,987 individuals. See our shared results here.

BET hosted a virtual fundraising event, “Saving Our Selves: A BET, COVID-19 Relief Effort,” broadcasted on April 22, 2020, to address the virus’ disproportionate affects in the following cities: Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, and New York City. 

Requirements for funding:
  • 60% African American Communities 
  • Diverse group of organizations
  • Invest in community-based organizations that are led by African American Leaders
  • Direct services and supports to individuals and families (funds received cannot be used to cover operational expenses)
  • Provide programs, supports, and services that serve a significant percentage of African American individuals and families

BET’s support will provide vital services – like utilities and rental assistance, health supports, financial capability education, workforce readiness, student learning supports, and food assistance – from trusted community partners and programs, including:

Rent, Mortgage & Utilities Assistance
  • Total Community Action Agency, in partnership with the City of New Orleans – Rental & Utilities Assistance – Offering rental assistance to individuals whose household income has been reduced as a result of COVID-19 and that are not receiving rental assistance through other organizations
    • New Orleans has viable pathways for all individuals and families to achieve financial stability, self-sufficiency, and ultimately, prosperity. TCA is the catalyst for generating community-wide change to ensure that pathways provide opportunities for low-income individuals and families.
    • (504)-872-0334
  • J. Wayne Leonard Prosperity Center  – Mortgage Assistance, Financial Coaching & Counseling - Offering mortgage assistance with free services that include financial coaching, access to public benefits, community workshops, free tax preparation, and essential job readiness training
    • The J. Wayne Leonard Prosperity Center is United Way of Southeast Louisiana’s one-stop financial stability center offering an array of programming to the citizens of New Orleans, including financial education and coaching, credit building and counseling, benefits screening, and income tax assistance.
    • (504) 822-5540
  • Ashé Cultural Arts Center – Rental & Mortgage Assistance – Offering emergency funds for creative workers in the cultural economy – artists, performers, writers, and cultural bearers
    • Ashé’s innovative programming is designed to utilize culture in fostering human development and civic engagement. The center maintains a 5,000 square feet of gallery space, creating and preserving opportunities for the curation, exhibition, and commission of fine, folk, and fine-folk art of the African Diaspora.
Workforce Development & Job Search Assistance
  • Urban League – Workforce Development, Job Search & Small Businesses – Offering ongoing education and skills development to prepare for employment to individuals and operational and financial support to minority- and women-owned businesses
    • Having served Greater New Orleans since 1938 with a mission to assist underserved communities in securing economic self-reliance, parity, power, and civil rights, the Urban League expanded to a statewide entity in 2016, becoming the Urban League of Louisiana (ULLA). That expansion began in East Baton Rouge Parish and plans to continue throughout the state.
    • (504)-620-2332
Access to Meals and/or Financial Assistance to Purchase Food
  • Citywide Feeding – Second Harvest Food Bank/City of New Orleans/NOLA Public Schools/NORD – Meals - Streamlining data collection, developing strategies to optimize current food distribution efforts, identifying potential gaps in the system, and designing a scaled, longer-term, and sustainable solution for citywide food distribution
    • Second Harvest Food Bank
      • Second Harvest Food Bank leads the fight against hunger in South Louisiana by providing food access, advocacy, education, and disaster response. Second Harvest provides food and support to 700+ community partners and programs across 23 parishes.
    • City of New Orleans
      • The City of New Orleans has announced the mobilization of the Mass Feeding Program, a cost-sharing collaboration with the Federal Emergency Management Agency totaling $18 million to fulfill a basic human need as part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This first-of-its-kind program will provide meals to a range of vulnerable residents, including high-risk health adults, residents with special medical needs, homeless residents, homebound seniors, and families with children 18 and under who are not receiving other federally supported food assistance.
      • Dial 211 for assistance
    • NOLA Public Schools
    • NORDC
      • To advance the physical, mental, and social well-being of New Orleanians by providing safe and welcoming environments for recreational, athletic, and cultural experiences.
      • (504) 658-0068
  • Council on Aging – Meals on Wheels for Seniors – Delivering meals to wait-listed seniors
    • The Nutrition Program of the New Orleans Council on Aging is two-fold. This program provides both Congregate (C-1) meals and Home delivered (C-2) meals or as they are more commonly referred to as “Meals on Wheels” to the elderly sixty (60) years of age and older in Orleans parish.
    • (504)-821-4121
  • HandsOn New Orleans – Meal Deliveries in partnership with World Central Kitchen – Preparing and packaging meals for seniors and homebound individuals
    • The City of New Orleans partnered with the World Central Kitchen and HandsOn New Orleans to provide free meal delivery service to home-bound, low-income seniors and chronically ill residents, who are at a greater risk of severe illness if exposed to COVID-19.
Access to Health Screenings and Supports to low-income African Americans
  • Crescent Care – Raising awareness around sexual health and overall well-being to reduce stigma, eliminate barriers to care, and end health disparities
    • Crescent Care provides high quality and culturally humble care to the entire New Orleans community.  We are particularly focused on our Greater New Orleans neighbors who come from traditionally medically underserved communities: the service industry, the LGBTQ community, the uninsured and the underinsured, immigrants, and communities of color.
    • (504)-323-2643  
  • Common Ground Health Clinic – Providing quality health care with a focus on the uninsured and underinsured and developing and providing programs to address community health care needs
    • The Common Ground Health Clinic is a non-profit organization that provides quality health care for the greater New Orleans community, and develops and provides programs to address community health care needs through collaborative partnerships.
    • (504)-361-9800
  • Ashé Cultural Arts Center – Working with community partners to incentivize sound wellness choices
    • Ashé’s innovative programming is designed to utilize culture in fostering human development and civic engagement. The center maintains 5,000 square feet of gallery space, creating and preserving opportunities for the curation, exhibition, and commission of fine, folk, and fine-folk art of the African Diaspora.
Access to Student Learning Supports
  • New Orleans Public Schools/New Schools for New Orleans – Access to technology and equipment – Providing student access to Chromebooks and Wi-Fi hotspots to support students without connectivity at home
  • United Negro College Fund (UNCF) – Support to African American students at HBCU’s and local universities – Providing emergency financial aid in the form of scholarships and grants to help students afford necessitates such as transportation, food, housing, and relocation assistance; Providing access to laptops, tablets, and broadband to UNCF member-school students
    • UNCF’s North Star is to increase the total annual number of African American college graduates by focusing on activities that ensure more students are college-ready, enroll in college, and persist to graduation.
    • (504)-581-3794


Anyone interested in accessing any of the programs or services above are encouraged to contact the organizations directly.


Lending a Helping Hand in New Orleans

After being unable to work for several months due to COVID-19, Ms. M came to United Way of Southeast Louisiana seeking rental assistance.   She had been working as a home health nurse, but after one of her patients was diagnosed with COVID-19, and Ms. M was laid off. In the midst of this difficult time, Ms. M was diagnosed with cancer, hospitalized and underwent several surgeries. She is now receiving assistance from Total Community Action, thanks to support from United Way of Southeast Louisiana. TCA staff have helped her file for unemployment and ensure that her information is up to date.   Ms. M has a charitable organization of her own, Saving Angels. As someone who dedicates her life to others, Ms. M is no stranger to the power of giving, saying that she “always shows love, and being kind pays off.”