Employees facing financial hardships from COVID-19 can apply for a grant from the You First Fund
BRADENTON, Florida – First Watch Restaurants today announced the introduction of an employee assistance fund, with a goal of helping to meet the immediate needs of employees and their families facing financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Employees seeking direct financial assistance to fund necessary personal, family and living expenses such as child and health care arising from the crisis, can apply for a grant from the newly created employee assistance fund – the You First Fund. Employees who meet qualifying criteria and are approved are eligible to receive $1,000 each, within days. First Watch has partnered with America’s Charities, a 501(c)3 nonprofit with 40 years of proven charitable funds management expertise, to ensure that any donations to the fund are tax deductible, and all grants from the funds are tax-free, allowing First Watch to provide maximum support to employees quickly.
“We’ve always been a people-first organization, and as we navigate through these unprecedented times, we’re grateful to our partners at Advent International for providing this opportunity to support our teams’ immediate financial needs,” said Chris Tomasso, First Watch CEO and president. “This pandemic is a situation none of us have faced before, nor could any of us have planned for. We’re anxiously awaiting the day when we can safely bring our teams back to work and serve our neighbors and friends once again.”
The You First Fund is anchored by a donation from Advent International, the majority owner of First Watch, through the Advent Global Relief Fund and is supplemented by individual gifts from generous donors. The Advent Global Relief Fund comprises an initial $25 million commitment from Advent and its partners and was created to help meet the immediate needs of those most affected by the coronavirus pandemic in the regions around the world where Advent operates. It is focusing on healthcare and other front-line workers, vulnerable communities and the employees of Advent’s portfolio companies, including First Watch.
First Watch’s employee assistance fund is the latest initiative in the organization’s commitment to support its employees throughout this crisis. First Watch previously committed to continuing all furloughed employees’ existing healthcare benefits and is covering 100% of out-of-pocket costs, co-pays and deductibles for any medical visits related to COVID-19. The company has also invested in telemedicine benefits for every active and furloughed First Watch employee and their family, at no cost to them, so all have access to medical professionals who can diagnose, authorize testing and even prescribe medications. Additionally, First Watch has provided relief payments to long-tenured furloughed hourly team members to help with immediate expenses and has also committed to making its furloughed restaurant managers financially whole by providing a bonus upon their return to work to assist with hardship costs incurred as a result of the pandemic and work to close the gap between the federal and state benefits they received and their First Watch salary. These benefits are being funded in part by significant cost reductions and senior leadership pay cuts through 2020, to ensure the security and longevity of its restaurant teams.
On April 13, First Watch temporarily closed its company-owned restaurants in an effort to protect its teams throughout the height of the coronavirus pandemic. The restaurant company is closely monitoring updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the White House Coronavirus Task Force and local and state governments and intends to reopen dining rooms once it is deemed safe for both employees and customers.
About First Watch
First Watch is a high-growth daytime restaurant concept serving made-to-order breakfast, brunch and lunch using fresh ingredients. A recipient of more than 300 local “Best Breakfast” and “Best Brunch” accolades, First Watch offers traditional favorites, such as pancakes, omelets, sandwiches and salads, alongside specialty items like Quinoa Power Bowls, Avocado Toast and the Chickichanga. First Watch was recognized as Nation’s Restaurant News’ top Consumer Pick in the breakfast category as well as the coffee category for its Project Sunrise coffee program in 2019. It was also named one of TripAdvisor’s Best Restaurant Chains for 2019 and one of Business Intelligence Group’s Best Places to Work in 2018. There are more than 365 First Watch restaurants in 29 states, and the restaurant concept is majority owned by Advent International, one of the world’s largest private-equity firms. For more information, visit firstwatch.com.