• May 24th, 2024
  • Friday, 10:34:41 PM

Colorado Pioneers the Nation’s First Benefit Recovery Fund for Undocumented Workers


Colorado’s Office of New Americans oversees a new program supporting the immigrant workforce who play a major role in the state's economy. (Photo: Adobe Stock)

 

 

 

AidKit and Impact Charitable recently announced the launch of the Benefit Recovery Fund, that provides unemployment benefits to eligible workers who receive a W-2 and have taxes withheld from their paychecks but lack work authorization and lose their jobs through no fault of their own. Colorado employers contribute to the fund on behalf of all their employees should they lose employment.

 

Colorado’s Office of New Americans oversees the program, a first-of-its-kind in the United States, supporting the immigrant workforce who play a major role in the state’s economy.

 

It didn’t make sense that undocumented immigrant workers who power so many of the industries in our state were cruelly left out.”
Kathy White, Colorado Fiscal Institute

 

Through a competitive process, Colorado’s Office of New Americans selected AidKit as the designated administrator of the Benefit Recovery Fund. Since the onset of the pandemic, AidKit has provided an end-to-end technical platform for benefits disbursement programs throughout Colorado. AidKit protects participant information and verifies applicant eligibility without disclosing protected information to third parties, government entities, or employers.

 

“We have built a benefit system that puts applicant privacy first,” said Mark Newhouse, co-founder and chief strategy officer of AidKit.  “In collaboration with our partners, we’re committed to creating an accessible and efficient infrastructure to manage cash assistance at scale effectively. It’s more than just a system; we provide access to a program previously closed to a vital part of our workforce.”

 

Impact Charitable is working with community partners across the state to ensure eligible Coloradans are aware of the program and are applying.

 

“We all understand the uncertainties surrounding employment, and no one should be left to face them alone due to their immigration status,” said Jourdan McGinn, senior director of economic mobility & direct cash transfers at Impact Charitable. “We aim to ensure that these benefit dollars reach those who help sustain our industries and communities.”

 

Undocumented workers are crucial to several thriving Colorado industries, including tourism, construction, and education, and pay more than $400 million in taxes. Until now, these Coloradans have effectively contributed to the unemployment insurance trust fund through their employers’ premiums without ever benefitting from those contributions. The Benefit Recovery Fund rectifies that disparity, granting families and individuals peace of mind as they navigate unwarranted unemployment periods.

 

“We saw during the pandemic how important unemployment insurance was to workers, families, and our economy. It didn’t make sense that undocumented immigrant workers who power so many of the industries in our state were cruelly left out. Thanks to the hard work of community partners, AidKit, and so many others, they are no longer left out. We’re so excited to see the launch of the Benefit Recovery Fund. We know it’s good for these Coloradans, but more importantly, it’s essential for a thriving economy,” Kathy White, Executive Director, Colorado Fiscal Institute.

 

The application is available at brf.aidkit.org/apply?ref=press

 

Additionally, bilingual assistance is available by leaving a voicemail, texting (720) 902-7643, or emailing support@brf.aidkit.org.

 

A Support Specialist will return the call, text or email Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Response times may vary.

 

Applying for benefits is free, and no payment should be made to any individual or entity for the application process.

 

The Benefit Recovery Fund was established in 2022 when the Colorado Legislature approved Senate Bill 22-234, and Governor Jared Polis signed the legislation into law. Numerous community-based organizations and advocates supported its enactment.