In early March, while governments were still figuring out how seriously to take the COVID-19 crisis, Andrew Yang seems to have seen the writing on the wall. The former Presidential candidate launched Humanity Forward, a nonprofit focused on continuing the promises of his platform, especially Universal Basic Income (UBI) and data privacy by encouraging new voters and voting down-ballot, clear down to the local levels. Grassroots progress at its most democratic.
As March wore on and American unemployment suddenly rose from 4 percent to over 20 percent, Yang announced that his organization would begin experiments in offering UBI. They began with a $500,000 budget, experimenting in a small, unnamed New York town to study the benefits. On March 20th, CNN announced that Humanity Forward would spend $1 million in $1,000 payments to 500 low-income Bronx households during the crisis. Yang always planned to expand those numbers, if he could seek out additional funding. On Sunday, May 21, Jack Dorsey gave him some of that. The Twitter billionaire donated $5 million to Humanity Forward, and Humanity Forward has announced that plans to immediately distribute that money in $250 grants to nearly 20,000 people who have lost their jobs or their hours to the pandemic.
Dorsey, who backed Yang’s run for the presidency, believes that UBI is a necessary antidote to capitalism gone over the top, and that it can’t remain only an intellectual problem. “The only way we can change policy is by experimenting and showing case studies of why this works,” he said on Yang’s podcast, Yang Speaks.
“Not only will Jack’s donation directly impact tens of thousands of people in need during the current economic downturn, it will help Humanity Forward and our movement continue to make a case for universal basic income in the United States,” said Yang in a released statement. “We know UBI for every American is possible, and this $5 million from Start Small [Dorsey’s charitable foundation] is going to help demonstrate what is possible for families across the country.”
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