The newly formed Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion is allocating $250,000 to programs focused on food security, digital inclusion, small business support and housing security.


With the help of new funds provided by a number of contributors, including Bridge Development Partners, Wells Fargo and the office of Councilman Rex Richardson, the center announced it will launch its In This Together campaign, to “expand opportunities in neighborhoods where the racial income gap and economic barriers are evident.”


After announcing its board of directors in March, this will be the first act of business for the new community development corporation, which received initial funding from the city of Long Beach and the Wells Fargo Foundation in September. While primarily designed to drive forward economic inclusion, the organization announced it would shift its efforts toward emergency response during the pandemic.


“We just held our first board meeting in March, then recognized the urgency to pivot programming so that we can help build resiliency in the face of the current crisis,” Board Chair Bob Cabeza said. “Equity will always be our focus. We will direct our economic development resources primarily to our city’s neighborhoods with the greatest need.”


The new program will address four core areas:


Food security


In partnership with Organic Harvest Gardens in North Long Beach, the program will offer delivery of fresh, local food to low-income homebound seniors across the city, free of cost. Eight additional food assistance programs at community-based sites will also be supported.


Digital inclusion


Serviced by Long Beach-based nonprofit Human-I-T, the program will provide more than 300 laptops to bridge the digital divide for low income families enrolled in YMCA Early Childhood and Youth Institute programs, Long Beach City College students and other nonprofit partners. 


Small business support


Supported by “Business Navigators” who will extend the efforts of the City’s Economic Development Department by reaching out to underrepresented small businesses in North, Central and West Long Beach.


Housing security


A housing support hotline to provide HUD-certified counseling for residents dealing with COVID-19 housing challenges will be announced soon, according to a press release.