When the coronavirus pandemic overtook the United States in the spring of 2020, it paused huge swaths of the economy and shuttered countless small businesses. In response, the federal government developed the Paycheck Protection Program, one of the largest financial bailouts since the Great Depression. 

Over the course of a year, the program injected more than $770 billion into businesses across the nation. Yet like so many resources in America, those funds did not reach many of the people who needed them most.

We analyzed more than 5 million PPP loans and found widespread disparities in how the money was distributed. Indeed, in the vast majority of metro areas with a population of 1 million or more, we found that the rate of lending to majority-White areas was higher than the rates for any majority-Latinx, Black or Asian areas. We also uncovered troubling patterns among several prominent lending institutions.

Our analysis, the first-ever look at how PPP loans were distributed at the census tract level, stems from an enormous dataset we acquired after several news organizations sued the Small Business Administration in May 2020.

Today, as the pandemic abates and Americans reemerge from their homes, the economy that awaits them looks different than it did before: Separated further into haves and have-nots, it is cleaved along generations-old racial fault lines that stubbornly persist. 

The data contains countless story opportunities. Together with Big Local News, a program of Stanford University’s Journalism and Democracy Initiative, we’re sharing it with local reporters across the country. To access it immediately, sign up for our Reporting Networks below.

This story was produced with the support of the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships and Big Local News at Stanford University.