Grant and Contract Opportunities Set to Open in Long Beach
Millions of $$$
By Dianne Anderson
Millions of American Rescue Plan Act funding lies just around the corner in Long Beach, provided that applicants first know the contract opportunities exist, and then submit their proposals really fast.
As is often the case, RFQ and grant information slowly circulate within the Black community, and nonprofits must be prepared to compete.
The city’s portal is now in the works, set to cover procurement opportunities stemming from projects and programs named in the recent Racial Reconciliation Update. The report references millions of American Recovery Act dollars and the many opportunities that could lead to millions in structural funding.
Senay Kenfe, local community organizer and business owner, hopes to see fair competition in the grant process. In the past, he said the city’s “trusted champions” bid with little competition, especially if they landed past bids, it was rare to be denied future contracts.
One good sign is the report references that data will be aggregated by ethnicity, which may play a role in how dollars are spent.
The Racial Reconciliation initiative first came on the heels of the murder of George Floyd, but Kenfe said it’s hard to tell if the nonprofits that land the contracts are non-Black, or even serving the Black community.
“Now that all this money is available, they’re trying to hop in that space. Currently, they don’t have to prove that if they get a $100,000 contract that they’re serving the Black community, they can say we’re just serving the community,” he said.
Back in Dr. Martin Luther King’s time, he feels that would be inconceivable for white organizations to lead efforts within the Black community under the old Community Development Block Grant model.
“Most knew if we get ‘x’ amount support from structural public funding. It’s not just we have to find a Black face, but we have to find a Black organization to funnel the money into,” he said.
He said that Black organizations could go after some of those grant dollars by making a case that the city referenced racism as a public health crisis through the reconciliation process.
“If you’re operating under an assumption that the effect of racism is a health concern, from the health department, it looks good because they can structure certain types of funding at the county, state and Fed that say we’re fighting racism,” he said.
As part of the city’s initial recognition of the need for policy change, an initial 112-page report of the city of Long Beach Racial Equity and Reconciliation Initiative was formed last year. Recently, the 136-page update of that initiative states the Long Beach Recovery Plan to allocate funding for “Direct Grants to Business & Nonprofits” is in progress and will impact, among several targets, community outreach, housing, private sector investment attraction in sectors most impacted by COVID-19.
The city’s website says contracting opportunities have been advertised, targeting local minority and women-owned businesses and those who work with communities of color to do business with the city. Participants are required to register as a vendor on the online procurement portal at http://www.longbeach.gov/businesses and click on “Register as a Vendor.”
In the past, one big concern was that there were no Black nonprofits on the pre-approved vendor list. Getting on that list took two years, and they contended competing for allocations was either limited, or impossible.
Meredith Reynolds, Special Deputy City Manager for Recovery said the community is invited to check out the City’s Recovery website, which details expected timelines for all current and upcoming contracting opportunities.
This round of Recovery contracting opportunities are not based on a pre-approved list, she said. Any organization can apply.
Information on how to apply to do business with the City is available on the website, with each opportunity highlighted with a specific link that provides the scope, eligibility, review criteria and amount of funding available, along with instructions on what is needed to apply.
All recovery funding must be awarded, spent and funding closed out by December 2024.
“With this timeline, it is important to balance providing programs and services to the community in an intentional and thoughtful way but also as swiftly as possible to provide the support to those who need it most,” she said in an email.
Also, the city seeks to provide community organizations contracted with the City as much time as possible to implement their program in the community.
She said each contracting opportunity has its own multi-lingual communications plan, which includes a press release, social media posts, such Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, and outreach to interested groups and our community partners.
“The City’s RFQ and RFP proposal processes are intended to allow for as many organizations to submit proposals as possible, including Black-lead organizations,” she said.
For the Racial Reconciliation Update, see https://bit.ly/3JlBL9B
For current and upcoming contract opportunities, see
For BizCare help and funding for businesses and CBO’s, see https://www.longbeach.gov/economicdevelopment/business-development/bizcare-program/