(Courtesy Quentin James)

Quentin James, founder, and president of The Collective Political Action Committee isn’t waiting for someone else to fill the gap left by the federal government in its response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“We can’t expect Donald Trump and The White House to solve this problem,” James tells theGrio. “We gotta solve this ourselves.”

Together with Andrew Yang and his non-profit Humanity Forward, James is helping families in need by providing $1 million in funds. James launched the COVID Response Team to provide assistance to households in the Bronx and hopes to grow the initiative nationwide.

The Collective PAC was founded in 2016 to amplify Black voices in politics and build Black political power. James has temporarily set aside political agendas to lead in giving the community hope and financial stability in a crucial time. 

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Partnering with Yang and Humanity Forward, James and The Collective PAC are able to donate $1 million in donated funds to assist minority families in the Bronx which James notes was the poorest county in New York before the virus. “They’re going to be hit the hardest,” he explains. 

The two organizations are working with Neighborhood Trust, a local credit union, to provide for approximately 1000 families already struggling to make ends meet. The COVID Response Team directly steps in where the founders say the federal government lacked. 

“Part of it is we’re seeing such a lack of concern from some of our elected leaders and the federal government,” says James.  “Just the thought that people can just stay at home, work from home, or kids can stay home from school… They’re not taking into account the condition they’re putting people in, in real life. Right now, we don’t feel like our lives are being considered in a real way.” 

“The country should have been preparing months ago when we first learned about this virus back in December,” James continues.  “The delay in action has impacted everyone’s lives but [has] hit Black and Brown [people] the most. We have to step up in this moment to deal with that and then we can get back to politics.”

Donors raised money and approached James, seeking to support people in need through the pandemic. 

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“A lot of donors around the country were concerned about how the pandemic impacted those on the front lines,” says James. “These businesses are closing and unfortunately because of missteps from the federal government, people are suffering. We wanted to figure out a way to cut through the red tape and help people survive. Some donors approached us to help and we partnered with Andrew Yang and group and we are still raising money,” he continues. 

Partnering with Andrew Yang came organically. A staffer on Yang’s presidential campaign who was handling finances also worked behind the scenes for Collective PAC. Both were looking for partnerships and their visions aligned.  

We are only in week one of this economic shutdown. By the time you get to week four or five, many people will be in desperate circumstance(s) and that is what we need to prevent as soon as possible,” Yang said during an interview with CNN. 

Collective PAC and Humanity Forward are still collecting funds to support the COVID Response Team. Hopefully, continued funds and measured community impact will carry their mission beyond the Bronx to New York’s other boroughs and across the country. 

The pilot project now is specifically for people in the Bronx. Hopefully (it will) inspire folk to donate and the initiative can grow across the country,” James said.

Residents of the Bronx can currently apply for assistance. To donate, sign up, volunteer, or learn more, click here.