LBCEI: Guidance to Get Funding and Resources
By Dianne Anderson
Time is closing in fast on CARES Act dollars that must be spent by December 30, leaving nonprofits and small businesses hoping for a federal extension to get them through the next leg of the pandemic.
Jeff Williams of the Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion, said they have received one CARES Act grant that they’ve put into action.
They have applied for other grants that are Long Beach specific, and they are ready to roll, but it’s been slow.
“It’s December, we haven’t heard back from on some of these [grants], we applied last month,” he said. “Some came back quickly, obviously there’s a huge need. I’ve got three grants due in the next five days. The resources are falling, and there’s a time frame.”
As part of LBCEI’s food network, Williams is working with three churches. He said they are trying to push them to submit applications. They do good work, and could some of their money back.
The city puts out equitable bids and proposals, but Williams’ said it’s been hard for churches and small businesses struggling with basic business needs. They don’t have grantwriters to cope with the heavy paper and application requirements.
Without the extra help, it’s hard for them to compete for funding.
“We’ve done a lot serving businesses in those communities that are not supported by the business structures in the city,” said Williams, also formerly the director of Leadership Long Beach.
At the same time, he said LBCEI wants to help, but let businesses and nonprofits do what they do best – get food and resources out to the grassroots community. By helping facilitate connections, he said they are creating bigger opportunities.
One project, an urban farm business in north Long Beach had been serving local restaurants, but with the right guidance and resources, they are now delivering food to home-bound seniors.
“We paid them to deliver their produce that was sitting there unused to the seniors. Everybody wins. The farm stays afloat, seniors get the food they need,” Williams said.
Out of necessity, he said they assist with a lot of food programs. LBCEI has 12 partners throughout the city serving thousands of families a week.
Their role is to help organizations with direction and resources to operate more efficiently.
“There’s no magic bullet that fixes everything, but I believe that collaboration and collective work is one of the best things organizations can do,” he said. “I can go out and get a grant to direct money where it would be hard for them to do it on their own.”
LBCEI, which started as the EveryoneIn initiative, serves underrepresented families, small businesses and low-income communities of North, Central and West Long Beach in areas of food security, small business support, economic resiliency, technology, workforce and youth development.
Darick Simpson, who is soon transitioning off the LBCEI board, commended Williams for his work as president of the Foundation.
Simpson, a long time community advocate, has served as executive director of Long Beach Community Action Partnership, and currently President of the Miller Foundation.
He sees the greatest challenge is meeting the overwhelming need, not just in the community, but for those trying to survive while providing services to their community.
Since last year, Simpson and several others took interim positions on LBCEI transitional board to develop planning strategies, including a strong focus on services in the Ninth District where demand is high.
He said that Councilman Rex Richardson, who launched LBCEI, has been a progressive force with redevelopment and other creative initiatives, especially attentive to the needs and concerns of the community.
“It was built on that foundation to the point of creating this entity and getting public and private sector support financially to establish the nonprofit LBCEI,” Simpson said.
Small businesses or nonprofits come to LBCEI for money or guidance to interact with the city or service providers in receiving resources. They get the basic help and direction they need, and then take it from there.
But as CARES Act funding from the city has been delayed in recent months, Simpson is concerned about the short window to expend those funds.
He said federal funding can be a blessing or a curse when it comes down to local entities, such as a city. If funds aren’t implemented according to guidelines, it could be considered “disallowable costs” and funds would have to be returned to the federal government.
Layers of protocol can be overwhelming at the administrative level to get the money out, making it difficult for smaller businesses and nonprofits to be successful.
“Unfortunately, if they were to administer those funds and not do it properly you run the risk of disallowable costs, which means that you have to pay it back,” he said.
Right now, it is a funding frenzy during a critical time.
“For some, that’s going to be a challenge. All of a sudden you have to run a couple of hundred miles in a few weeks of what would normally take a few months,” he said.
For more information, see https://www.lbcei.org/inthistogether/
For those that want to learn more about applying for funds, see