Baltimore awarded more than $7 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds to nine city nonprofits Wednesday, starting the much-awaited process of distributing the money directly to groups not under the city’s umbrella.
The first round of recipients received awards ranging from $285,000 to $2.3 million. The city’s application process, which closed in December, required applicants to ask for a minimum of $250,000. Projects were judged on the public good they create, risks involved and impact on equity.
The first round of recipients includes:
- Baltimore City Community College Foundation: $500,000 to support youth refugee and asylee academic needs.
- Baltimore Corps: $371,000 for workforce development activities, including career navigation and training with a focus on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and female-identifying residents.
- Bikur Cholim: $285,000 to assist with running a COVID vaccination clinic and providing food, financial and transportation assistance for patients.
- B’More Clubhouse: $500,000 to help people with mental illness maintain recovery and stability, and decrease use of behavioral health resources such as emergency services.
- FreeState Justice: $470,000 to support health and housing providers who assist young LGBTQ residents with access to health care and housing.
- Ministers’ Conference Empowerment Center CDC: $1.2 million to create a Cradle to Career Pipeline that provides science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) instruction, job shadowing, workforce training, job placement and opportunities for career advancement in railway, maritime and other tech-focused careers.
- The Pride Center of Maryland: $1.3 million to address increased violence, particularly among sexual and gender minority populations through community outreach, individualized assessments, benefits navigation and other services.
- Urban Strategies Inc.: $2.3 million to support residents impacted by the redevelopment of Perkins Homes. People will be enrolled in case management to provide economic mobility, youth development, education and health assistance.
- Wide Angle Youth Media: $450,000 to pay for 200 Baltimore youth, ages 10-24, to participate in programs where students learn to use technology and receive career readiness training and other services.
Thus far, Baltimore has allocated about three-quarters of its $641 million pot of American Rescue Plan funding, which was awarded by the federal government to help the city recover from the pandemic and make strategic investments. Most of the money has gone to city agencies: $100 million for housing programs, $80 million to the city’s Health Department to continue to battle COVID and $75 million to fight homelessness, among other programs.
Some awards have been made to nonprofits by city agencies that have been recipients. The Mayor’s Office Neighborhood of Safety and Engagement, for one, has distributed funds to various groups to assist with the city’s Group Violence Reduction Strategy and other crime prevention measures outlined in Mayor Brandon Scott’s crime plan.
Nonprofit organizations submitted 322 proposals eligible for ARP funding totaling $719 million. Additional announcements of awards to nonprofits will be forthcoming, administration officials said. Officials have not committed a sum to be directed toward nonprofits.
During a news conference Wednesday at B’More Clubhouse, Scott said the organizations selected represent groups that have not historically seen city investment.
Faith Leach, deputy mayor of equity, health and human services, said Baltimore’s nonprofit groups delivered during the pandemic, supporting the city’s most vulnerable residents.
“The pandemic unearthed broken systems, an all-too-familiar reality for far too many Baltimore nonprofits, especially those run by people of color,” she said. “Those organizations are often less capitalized and less resourced, but they’re expected to manage multiple crises.”
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The pace of the city’s ARP rollout, specifically to nonprofits, has been a bone of contention for some members of the Baltimore City Council. Scott’s administration controls the allocation of ARP funding, but the City Council has called for more oversight, passing an ordinance last year calling for more frequent updates on the spending.
At a hearing in May, council members said nonprofit leaders in their districts were not receiving adequate feedback when they were rejected for awards. Other council members complained that some nonprofits were receiving money passed out through city agencies as others waited.
Scott said Wednesday that he’s “quite all-right” with the pace of the awards. The money was intended to be spent over “an extended period of time,” he said. Baltimore has until the end of 2024 to spend its ARP funds.
“You have to have processes in place … to make sure that you are doing it in a way that doesn’t set you and those organizations up to fail,” he said.
Councilman Robert Stokes, who attended Wednesday’s news conference, said he was pleased with the groups selected as recipients for the first round of funds, particularly those that have not traditionally been funded by the city.
“There are a lot of organizations that do the work, but they never get the funding,” he said.