American Rescue Plan Act Funding in Maine
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) is an opportunity for Maine to put the wellbeing of communities first. Our communities need help and nonprofits have been the bedrock of connecting with and uplifting Maine communities, especially during times of crisis and recovery.
State, local, Tribal, and territorial governments may use their allocations of the $350 billion in Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to provide “assistance to households, small businesses, AND NONPROFITS, or to aid impacted industries.” H.R. 1319, The American Rescue Plan Act, Sec.602(c)(1)(A), page 223
Our state and counties have important decisions ahead on how they will spend federal stimulus money arriving as part of the American Rescue Plan Act, and while ARPA allows for funds to go to nonprofits, there is no requirement that they do. Our government officials need to hear from the nonprofit community about how nonprofits can put these funds to work for Maine communities!
Key Messages for Nonprofit Advocates
Partnerships with Maine’s nonprofits will allow for funding to be distributed effectively and efficiently, leveraging resources, relationships, and strengths to serve communities even better.
- Charitable nonprofits and governments are natural partners, serving the same constituents in the same communities. The challenges of one are the challenges of all.
- During the COVID crisis, we have seen that nonprofits are vital to providing both relief and recovery to our communities. Nonprofits are providing increased food assistance, mental health supports, childcare, and housing. They are training and placing people in jobs, educating children and adults, and caring for animals and our environment. Arts and cultural organizations are poised to revitalize our main streets and inspire communities.
- Nonprofits are perfectly positioned to maximize public benefits with their deep knowledge of community needs, reach, and existing relationships, particularly in low-income and underserved or hard-to-reach populations.
- Maine’s nonprofit community is one of the most robust and vibrant in the country, playing a significant role in the state’s reputation as a great place to live and raise a family and these organizations are an integral part of our recovery efforts.
- Nonprofits are uniquely equipped to reduce disparities for marginalized communities and build a better Maine than we had before the pandemic.
- While the spending will ultimately be up to municipal leaders, the conversation must include input from community stakeholders from business and nonprofit leaders to local officials and activists.
- This is not just a chance to recover from the crushing effects of the COVID pandemic, but a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build back stronger than before.
A Framework for Investment
We encourage both governments and nonprofits to consider the following Special Report from National Council for Nonprofits, which offers a framework to help governments and nonprofits work together on how the dollars can best be spent for the public good.
Full report: Strengthening State and Local Economies in Partnership with Nonprofits (updated October 2021). This updated edition has more than three dozen new examples of government-nonprofit partnerships, particularly at the local level. In addition, you can make use of excerpts for more targeted communications:
- Executive Summary
- Yes You Can Invest in Nonprofits
- Guiding Principles
- Successful Models
- Additional Resources.
Examples of Advocacy for Nonprofits as Partners in Recovery
- On September 15th, MANP sent this letter – signed by members of our Advocacy Network – to county commissioners encouraging them to include Maine nonprofits in their considerations of how ARPA funding will be distributed.
- Over 30 community organizations unite in Penobscot County to call for funding of chronic community problems (WABI) – a great example of collective advocacy in Penobscot county!
- Op-eds like this one from Jason Parent, MANP Board Member and Executive Director of Aroostook County Action Program, are making the case: Funding brings unique chance to bolster our communities (The County)
- If you’re interested in writing an op-ed or reaching out to your county decision-makers and would like support, contact Jennifer Hutchins.
County Funding News
- Cumberland County: Cumberland County is accepting Pre-applications from qualifying candidates that aim to advance community-driven solutions to recovery that deliver equitable outcomes and transformative change. The pre-application due date is Monday, November 15, 2021 at 4:00pm
Further Background on ARPA
When Congress authorized the $350 billion in Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, it allocated them separately to states, to counties, to metropolitan cities, and “non-entitlement areas” (local governments typically serving populations of less than 50,000, including cities, towns, townships, and villages).
Maine is receiving $1.5 billion, $260 million of which is up to counties to distribute. Each county will design its own process for distribution of funding, with Cumberland County (due to population size) having the most complex compliance and reporting requirements.
The federal allocation is split into two tranches, with the first payment arriving in May 2021 and the second payment of an equal amount scheduled to arrive no sooner than May 2022. ARPA funds must be obligated no later than December 31, 2024. Funds must be spent no later than December 31, 2026.
Broadly, these funds can be spent in the following categories:
- Supporting the public health response
- Addressing negative economic impacts
- Replacing public sector revenue loss
- Premium pay for essential workers
- Water, sewer, broadband infrastructure