After almost 10 months of war, Ukrainian life and cities have been left ravaged and forever changed. The Minneapolis-based global humanitarian nonprofit Alight has been supporting Ukrainians in a number of ways, from guiding families to safety to partnering with Airbnb for short-term housing.
“When we started responding to the war in late February, early March, what we were hearing from our team was that one of the greatest needs was continued access to employment and income so that people could continue to support themselves and their families,” Jessica Phinney, experience lead at Alight, says.
Alight’s data told them that right after housing, the top need for Ukrainians is financial support. “We took these things and said, What can we create to bridge that gap and uplift these creatives, connect them to work, and provide some additional beauty and joy during such a difficult time?” she says.
From that need, Aid2Art was born, Alight’s creative fund to support Ukrainian artists, designers, photographers and illustrators. The response first went out in the form of creative emergency funds, $1,000 unconditional cash transfers for individuals to use for whatever they needed most, giving them the chance to provide for their families and to be able to express themselves through their art. To date, Alight has sent out over 200 creative emergency funds, and out of those artists who were funded, over 60 submitted a piece of art for the online gallery show called Iconic Ukraine, that has become an ode to the strength and beauty of the country and its citizens. “What we wanted to try to encourage people to create work around is the heart and soul of Ukraine and what that meant to each of the artists,” Phinney said.
The broader mission of Alight, Phinney says, is about serving displaced populations no matter where they are in their journey, which includes providing them with basic necessities. But to go even further, “we know that to be a whole person you need that and to experience beauty and joy and to see a future for your family and your children and to have opportunities yourself, so this is helping that in some small way.”
The gallery is available to shop online, with 50 percent of the proceeds going back to the artists and 50 percent donated to Alight’s Ukrainian response. You can also find Aid2Art pieces in person at Olio Vintage (21 NE 5th St., Mpls) in Northeast.