This month, the editorial team is doing something a little different online. Orders to encourage social distancing, slow the spread of the coronavirus and protect residents have dealt a blow to the local and national economy. Numbers from the Texas Workforce Commission released May 22 show the Austin metro unemployment at 12.2%.
Some businesses and nonprofits have started new efforts to keep their neighbors healthy and help those in need. The Central Austin team is highlighting some of those efforts, but there are surely more in the community. If readers know of a local business or nonprofit that is working to help the community get through this time, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. The Center for Women Entrepreneurs at Texas Women's University announced May 18 it had awarded a total of $1 million in grants to 100 women-owned small businesses across the state affected by the coronavirus. Seven Austin businesses received the $10,000 AssistHER grants: Brentwood Social House, Eden East, Embellish Nails and Boutique, Luxe Dental, Sky Candy, Slow North and Spring Architects. www.twu.edu
2. Iconic Austin Brands, which operates stores such as Toy Joy, Yummi Joy, Wild About Music and Austin Rocks, is partnering with the Austin Council of PTAs on a project called Austin Fun + Learning. Donors to the program can buy products at stores such as Toy Joy and Wild About Music at a 15% discount to donate to the Austin Council of PTAS, which will then distribute them to families in need with help from Austin Voices for Education and Youth and Austin ISD. www.shopiconicaustin.com
3. Kingsted, an Austin-based apparel and t-shirt company, transitioned to making facemasks in March, and is donating one mask to a community member in need for every mask it sells online. According to a release, Kingsted has donated 35,000 masks as of May 19 and is hoping to donate a total of 50,000. www.kingsted.com
4. Nixta Taqueria, 2512 E. 12th St., Austin, announced May 18 it has joined the Sustainable Food Center's Neighborhood Pop-Up Grocery Project. The program, which began in late April, provides groceries in the dining rooms of closed restaurants that are located in areas of town with high barriers to food access. Nixta Taqueria said fresh produce, local meat, eggs and other products will be available at a discounted rate during the duration of the stay-home orders. The restaurant is open only for contactless pick-up and delivery. 512-551-3855. www.nixtataqueria.com
5. Pinthouse PIzza, which has locations at 4729 Burnet Road and 4236 South Lamar Blvd., Austin, launched its "Feed the Frontline" program on May 20. Customers ordering online have the opportunity to donate a pie to health care workers and essential workers. Pinthouse Pizza will then match each pie donated. www.pinthousepizza.com
6. SPIbelt, located at 8201 E. Riverside Drive, Austin, has pivoted from making small belts designed for running to face masks. CEO Kim Overton is donating 500 reusable masks to LifeWorks as well as an additional 200 masks to clients of the local nonprofit. www.spibelt.com
7. The YMCA of Austin, which has a location at 1100 W. Cesar Chavez St., Austin, launched an employee relief fund to support its current and furloughed workers who have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The YMCA will provide $50,000 to the fund, and Tito's Handmade Vodka will match all donations up to $25,000. Employees who experienced hardship, including a family member's loss of a job, can apply for grants to cover expenses such as rent and food. Most area YMCA locations, including the Town Lake YMCA, will reopen on June 1. 512-542-9622. www.austinymca.org