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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has donated $15 million to help US cities send their residents regular checks as they navigate the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s the tech tycoon’s second gift to Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, a nationwide network of local leaders launched in June to support efforts to provide Americans with a basic income.
Dorsey’s grant announced Tuesday will offer each city in the network up to $500,000 to put toward guaranteed income pilot programs, which have already been set up in cities such as Pittsburgh, St. Paul, Minnesota and Compton, California.
The donation comes as officials across the country grapple with a lack of funds to support their cities and their citizens during a historic economic downturn sparked by COVID-19, according to Stockton, California mayor Michael Tubbs, who founded the guaranteed income network.
“So many of our constituents were in food lines for Thanksgiving,” Tubbs said. “We have people calling our offices asking about how they’re going to pay for their water bill or their utilities or folks who are terrified about eviction moratoriums expiring.”
“They’re all wondering, where is the solution, where is the action that’s equivalent to the scale of the deprivation?” he added.
The cities’ guaranteed income programs vary in their size and scope. Pittsburgh, for example, will give 200 residents $500 a month for two years, while Richmond, Virginia plans to support 18 working families “to meet immediate needs and build wealth,” according to a news release.
Dorsey — who’s worth $11.5 billion, according to Forbes — previously gave $3 million to support the mayors’ initiative over the summer. The gifts are part of the “#startsmall” COVID-19 relief initiative he announced in April, supported by $1 billion worth of his equity in payments firm Square, where he also serves as CEO.
“Thank you … to all the Mayors of @mayorsforagi for these universal basic income pilots!” Dorsey tweeted Tuesday. “I hope they inform federal policy in the future.”
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