Berkeley organizations receive financial support amid COVID-19 struggles

U.S, Department of Treasury building
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According to data from the U.S. Treasury Department and Small Business Administration, 469 Berkeley organizations received between $150,000 and $10 million from the Paycheck Protection Program.

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On Monday, the federal Small Business Administration and Treasury Department released loan data from the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP.

In Berkeley, 469 organizations received funding with amounts ranging from $150,000 to $10 million. During the substantial financial crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, this financial relief was much needed for small businesses.

“We’re going to end our year probably with a million-dollar loss,” said Susie Medak, managing director at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, which received $1.6 million. “Was it enough? No. Was it helpful? Extraordinarily.”

The theater used the money to cover utility and mortgage costs, in addition to retaining a core staff of 35 people, according to Medak. Berkeley Repertory Theatre staff members have continued working during the pandemic, running virtual classes, holding online summer camps and continuing outreach.

Medak said the organization has lost $8 million in revenue during this fiscal year, but added that the PPP made a big difference. In addition to PPP loans, the theater has received money from donors and new subscribers, and it is a part of the Berkeley Relief Fund committee.

“Almost everyone that applied for that money, that we know, got it, whether they are a tiny restaurant or the San Francisco Opera,” Medak said.

Some organizations dealt with complications while working with their bank, however. According to Medak, among PPP loan recipients in Berkeley, there has been conversation about banks not advocating for their clients. She said some businesses had to apply for the PPP through three different banks, which involved a lot of paperwork.

After a tough process to get its funding, the International Child Resource Institute, or ICRI, received $2.15 million in loans, according to Ken Jaffe, its founder and global director. Jaffe said the ICRI used this funding to pay its Bay Area teaching staff, roughly 200 people.

The Berkeley-based ICRI runs day care and preschool programs in California and has done extensive work internationally to improve child care, health and development.

The pandemic “will be the biggest challenge to the amount of money that we get to use in Africa and Asia and some of the most challenged places,” Jaffe said. “Our people are all a part of this great worldwide family working together, and it makes us very sad right now that we can’t do what we normally do.”

Jaffe estimates that the ICRI has lost approximately 80% of its overall income, most of which came from preschools.

When parents keep their children at home, those centers are no longer a source of income.

“By September, when we’re normally starting up after a month off from early childhood programs, it’s going to be devastating for us,” Jaffe said. “We’re trying to maintain traction; we are very nimble. This is the worst crisis we’ve ever had.”

Contact Naomi Birenbaum at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @NaomiBirenbaum1.

A previous version of this article may have implied that only 469 Berkeley organizations received PPP funding. In fact, 469 organizations received funding ranging from $150,000 to $10 million. The names of organizations that received less than $150,000 were not released publicly.