Fresh Funding for Nonprofits, CBOs and Small Biz
By Dianne Anderson
Time and time again, Black nonprofits have learned to make do with what little they have, toiling the groundwork to reach the community, always digging deeper in pocket.
But help is on the way.
In the works, a new city software platform to get grants and funding allocated.
April Parker said the new grant management system is expected to allow easier access to applications for nonprofits and small businesses.
With her extensive background in government contracts, Parker responded to the city’s RFP for the grant management system to administer the millions of dollars to be released.
The RFP called for a program that could serve the size and volume of expected use without disruption based on roughly $18 million in available grant assistance, an estimated 10,000 applicants, with about 4,000 total payments to qualified applicants. It needed to support 2,000 concurrent multiple language users and open 24/7.
“They’re now doing demos and our technology partner is demoing with them. We have $18 million [city’s available funding]. We want to put it in the system, and let people apply for it, then for CBO’s to reach out to their individual constituents,” said Parker, Community Development Director at April Parker Foundation.
With that program, targeted outreach will let the community know how to complete the applications to get funded.
She said that while the city’s BizCare tents help, somehow the community is not aware of events unless they are sticking close to the city’s websites. One way for the city to smooth the process is with more Community Based Organization outreach.
“Supposedly, they’re going to fund CBO’s to reach their constituents in a way that is culturally relevant for them. They’re contracting for a grant management system, contracting for an organization to do case management and they’re contracting for CBO’s to get the word out,” she said.
In her own proposal, she said she provided a list of CBO’s by nationality based upon her work within the community.
Parker, also one of the grantees for the Black Health Equity Fund, was also one of several Black nonprofits that signed off on a letter of concern that the city has no Blacks on their pre-approved vendor list. The concern is that the lack of access hindered millions of racial reconciliation CARES Act dollars from reaching the community, money that had flowed down on the heels of George Floyd’s murder.
While she doesn’t think the city’s disconnect from the community is intentional, she believes that more outreach and awareness are needed.
Eric Romero, Business Development Officer at the City of Long Beach, said they are in the process of selecting a vendor to help with implementing the grant administration software system. It will cover a broad span of processing, case management and end-user access for grant applicants.
The city is also set to hire CBO’s to help with different activities, promoting small business and non-profit grant programs, and helping people apply for the programs.
Currently, he said the city does not have a link that summarizes the information.
As yet, there is no final timeline for funding allocations, but they are pushing to launch the Non-Profit Relief Grant application this calendar year, expected by late November or early December. At that time, he also expects a Request for Proposal to be issued for CBO services, such as technical assistance, help for small businesses, business planning and marketing.
“In terms of the funding for the Non-Profit Relief Grant, there is about $1.7 – $1.8 million for the program overall. We anticipate that much of this funding will be exhausted in the calendar year 2022,” he said.
Grant allocations up to $25,000 are based on organization size, and will not have to be paid back. It offers flexible working capital, such as rent, payroll or utilities, or other support to allow them to continue providing vital community services in the city.
Like many cities, the funding comes by way of an allocation through the American Rescue Plan.
During the rush for CARES Act funding last year, there was concern that funding not accessed would get returned to the government. This time around, Romero said they are not under the same type of deadline to spend the money.
The city is also opening a new Long Beach Recovery Act office where the community can look for direction on how to compete for the grant funding. It’s a lot of money to get out the door and help issue direct deposit payments to grant recipients, he said.
“One thing that we’re talking about with our vendor is having a period where the application is not quite open yet, but small businesses can begin creating profiles so when the application process opens, they’re all ready to go,” he said.
A team is also helping people complete grant applications with popups, including Admiral Kidd Park, Michelle Obama Library and Mark Twain Library. The locations have computers, printers, scanners and an outreach team.
“Right now, we have direct outreach to small business in some areas of the city where we have not seen a lot of grant funding and small business loans. We’ll have a similar approach engaging our nonprofits and spreading the word as much as we can so that people are aware of this opportunity,” he said.
For more information on April Parker Foundation, see https://www.aprilparker.org/
For more information, see https://www.longbeach.gov/economicdevelopment/business-development/bizcare-program/