Jack Dorsey is continuing to do nice things with his wealth, and on Friday we learned that his charitable group #StartSmall is giving $3.46 million to San Francisco's pilot program to give local artists $1,000 per month in guaranteed income.
Mayor London Breed announced the stipend program for SF artists back in October, as part of a slate of initiatives spearheaded by the SF Economic Recovery Task Force (ERTF). The program is being administered by Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA), and on Friday, YBCA announced on Twitter (obviously) that Dorsey's charity had provided the gift to expand both the length and the breadth of the pilot program.
We’re extending the Guaranteed Income Pilot for San Francisco artists for an additional year! With support from #StartSmall, a philanthropic initiative by @Twitter and @Square CEO @jack, we’re expanding this program catalyzed by the City of San Francisco and @LondonBreed. pic.twitter.com/zxC987KU2r— YBCA (@ybca) May 21, 2021
As they explained to the Chronicle, Dorsey's gift will help extend the pilot program from six to eighteen months. And it will allow the program to accept 50 more artists, for a total of 180 San Francisco artists who will now get a free $1,000 every month for a year and a half.
YBCA CEO Deborah Cullinan tells the Chronicle that Dorsey's gift, and the program itself, helps to "address the systemic inequity and insecurity in our sector and our city."
"It’s actually emotional," Cullinan said. "There are people that have been so hard hit, that were struggling before, that are one minute away from a life-changing event, and we are able to provide some security [with this program]."
Applications to the program opened up in late March, and YBCA said they received nearly 2,600 applicants. Those were then screened for eligibility — artists needed to make less than $60,900 per year to qualify, and reside in one of 13 ZIP codes that were identified as being hardest hit in the pandemic. And then, according to Cullinan, 130 artists were selected using a "randomizing tool." She says that 95% of the artists selected belong to a historically marginalized group, whether LGBTQ, people with disabilities, people of color, or immigrants.
YBCA says it will now work with five other organizations to select the second round of 50 artists.
Dorsey's #StartSmall organization has distributed $380 million to date, and you can see all of the distribution amounts and grantees here.
He announced a plan in the early months of the pandemic to give away $1.5 billion of his own wealth to an array of causes. That amount, via the share prices of Square and Twitter stock that he committed to the charity, has skyrocketed to $3.63 billion — so only 10% has been given out so far.
Dorsey has said that he wants to see the impacts of his money in his lifetime, and that after an initial push to fund COVID-19 relief, universal basic income (UBI) and girls' health and education would become #StartSmall's focus. As he said last year, explaining the focuses, they represent "the best long-term solutions to the existential problems facing the world." And he called UBI "a great idea needing experimentation."
Why UBI and girl’s health and education? I believe they represent the best long-term solutions to the existential problems facing the world. UBI is a great idea needing experimentation. Girl’s health and education is critical to balance: https://t.co/dC3dU6hvxB— jack (@jack) April 7, 2020
SF's Guaranteed Income Pilot for artists was a perfect fit for #StartSmall, given that it addresses both COVID recovery and the concept of UBI.
#StartSmall has also given grants to a number of social justice organizations, in particular those focused on Asian Americans in the wake of well publicized hate crimes and assaults in the Bay Area.
One of Dorsey's early gifts was to the Oakland Unified School District, giving them $10 million last May to purchase laptops for all schoolkids in the district during the first months of remote learning.