MANAUS Emergency Fund gives $115K to area immigrant families

Glenwood Springs Post Independent staff report

Carbondale-based nonprofit MANAUS has made $1,000 emergency cash assistance grants to 115 immigrant families since April 9.

MANAUS, in response to the COVID-19 crisis, raised $115,000 in its Emergency Fund and, utilizing the technology of LaMedichi, a savings and loan app, distributed $115,000 to the first 115 most needy, qualified families, according to a news release.

The grant program was announced first to the Aspen Community Foundation via a call with nonprofit leaders April 9, and MANAUS saw over 250 applications within 24 hours, according to the release.

Sydney Schalit, MANAUS executive director, said about 98% of applicants meet the requirements to receive funding. Grants are available to families living from Parachute to Aspen.

Amid the COVID-19 crisis, LaMedichi enabled an emergency aid feature to its platform that ensures rapid deployment of emergency financial aid to the area’s most vulnerable communities: those without access to traditional public funding and who are most vulnerable to a financial crisis, according to the release. Grants are not given to anyone who qualifies for government stimulus checks, Schalit said.

Applicants can get funding very quickly. “Depending on a few factors, between two and five days. Though, within 48 hours of applying, they will receive a call from a bilingual, bicultural local LaMedichi ambassador, who will give them more information,” Schalit said.

For each family, LaMedichi has delivered $950 in immediate cash assistance and a $50 deposit into their personal LaMedichi savings account, according to the release.

“Based on the applicant’s personal banking abilities, (the $950) is either deposited directly into their personal checking account or distributed in person. Each applicant who is approved receives their own personal LaMedichi savings account. They have full access to that money, but we continue to push LaMedichi’s purpose, which is to provide a savings platform, savings education and long-term financial literacy to our membership,” Schalit said.

MANAUS launched the LaMedichi project three years ago. Before the COVID-19 crisis, LaMedichi, led by local Barbara Freeman of Carbondale, had 300 members who received savings and financial literacy education as well as a financial platform that allowed them to save and take loans on their savings, according to the release.

“In non-COVID times, longstanding members can request a loan of up to twice their savings balance, and the interest rate is 6%,” Schalit said.

“The initial $115,000 was funded by longstanding MANAUS donors.”

MANAUS is asking the public to donate directly to the MANAUS Emergency Fund via, with 100% of donations directly benefiting people in the area who are not otherwise being helped with government funding, according to the release.

MANAUS works in partnership with others using the principles of community organizing and human-centered design to create sustainable solutions to issues that further equality within our communities, according to its website.

To support immigrant neighbors, donate to or mail a check to MANAUS, attn Emergency Fund, PO Box 2026, Carbondale CO, 81623.

To apply for benefits from the MANAUS Emergency Fund, visit

To learn more about MANAUS, visit