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Institute of the Black World 21st Century and Black Family Summit Established Helpline for African Americans and People of African Descent. Calls Answered Daily, 8:00 am – 11:00 pm, at (877) 719-1117

Millions of people have been touched by the COVID-19 pandemic that has ravaged the world throughout the year; however, no one has been more overwhelmed than first responders and essential workers who continue working to protect and care for the rest of us. But, who takes care of them while they are helping others?  The Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW), through its Black Family Summit (BFS) initiative, is reaching out to a major part of this vital workforce with the Community Cares Listening Line – (877) 719-1117

Funded by a grant from Casey Family Programs, the initiative provides free emotional support and resource information to first responders and essential workers who are African American and people of African descent. The helpline is available seven days a week from 8:00 am – 11:00 pm.

“The Community Cares Listening Line is grounded in a framework that recognizes the healing value of community, the importance of listening with empathy and the importance of instilling hope,” said Project Coordinator, Dr. Lisa Zakiya Newland, a social work educator and practitioner. “Volunteer listeners are trained in this framework. They will also provide information on resources to support the needs of the callers.”

The initiative has been in place since the summer, but is now being supported by advertising and marketing efforts to increase callers, especially during the holiday season when people are more likely to be overwhelmed, lonely and devastated by the tremendous loss that is encountered on a daily basis.

“Our tagline is ‘We’re here. We’re listening.” and we encourage everyone to share the helpline number – 877-719-1117 – with colleagues, family and friends to let first responders and essential workers know that we are here for them,” added Dr. Newland.

Leonard Dunston, convener of BFS, President Emeritus of the National Association of Black Social Workers and IBW Board Member, said, “The Black community faces a multitude of disparities, and COVID-19 is no exception.  It is known that first responders and essential workers are suffering, and news reports continue to recount the devastating, multi-faceted impact of this pandemic on their well-being. We are pleased that we are able to offer free, much-needed emotional support and information to these important members of our society.”

Dr. Ron Daniels, IBW Founder and President, established the organization to be a progressive, African-centered, action-oriented Resource Center dedicated to empowering people of African descent and marginalized communities.  The Black Family Summit is comprised of 29 socially-conscious Black professional and advocacy groups, including organizations that focus on the holistic health and welfare of Black families and communities. Members of these “healing” organizations have applied their collective expertise to emergency response efforts within communities of color.

The Community Cares Listening Line is endorsed by the New York City, Westchester and Nassau-Suffolk chapters of the National Association of Black Social Workers; the New York City and New Jersey chapters of the Association of Black Psychologists; Caribbean American Social Workers Association; Nigerian Social Workers Association; New York City chapter of 100 Black Men; and several organizations affiliated with IBW’s Pan-African Unity Dialogue.

For more information on Institute of the Black World 21st Century, Black Family Summit and the Community Cares Listening Line, please go to

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Media Contact

Carolyn McClair | McClair Public Relations
(212) 721-3341 |


IBW21 (The Institute of the Black World 21st Century) is committed to enhancing the capacity of Black communities in the U.S. and globally to achieve cultural, social, economic and political equality and an enhanced quality of life for all marginalized people.