Expanding Operational Capacity Grant Program

Office of Economic Opportunity
Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA)
Expanding Operational Capacity Grant Program

COVID-19 Equity Program

Issue Date: November 9, 2022
Applications Due: December 9, 2022

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OVERVIEW

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 into law to bring direct and immediate relief to families and workers. The Act provides $350 billion in funding to states, counties, municipalities and other governmental units across the country. These funds-Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF)- are to be used by state and local governments to address the devastating public health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Providence received approximately $166M in ARPA funds, which were distributed via municipal ordinance into various categories in May 2021 and June 2022.

The June 2022 ordinance included an infusion of $10M into the COVID-19 Inequities Fund. The purpose of this funding is to address the lingering disparities resulting from injuries suffered by African Heritage and Indigenous communities as outlined in Truth-Telling and Reconciliation phases of a three-phase process. A municipal reparations commission was formed to provide clear recommendations to the City on appropriate policies, programs and projects to begin addressing lingering disparities. The commission authored a detailed 11-point investment strategy that articulates specific recommendations, grounded in community feedback and research, for how the City should spend the $10M COVID-19 Inequities Fund. Further, the commission authored a set of ARPA-compliant eligibility criteria that specifies the intended recipients of the funding and/or programming resulting in the administration of the $10M. Details of the eligibility criteria can be found on pages 12-14 of the 11-point investment strategy report.

The Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) hereby notifies interested applicants of the availability of funds allocated from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) for grant funding. The availability and use of these funds is subject to federal regulations and is further subject to the City of Providence’s policies and program requirements. The Expanding Operational Capacity Grant Program is designed to increase the capacity of nonprofit organizations to provide supportive business, cultural, and social services to communities through the provision of capital funding grants. These capital funding grants can be used to improve the physical spaces of those nonprofit organizations. Capital improvement projects have many lasting benefits for nonprofit organizations and communities that they serve, such as increasing a nonprofit’s ability to occupy a dedicated space or building, lessening the chance of displacement, and offering increased visibility, stability, and overall capacity to carry out the mission of the organization.

 

BACKGROUND

Nonprofit organizations offer vital resources to the neighborhoods of Providence by providing goods, services, employment opportunities and other forms of support to the communities they serve. Although neighborhood-based nonprofit organizations are often at the frontline of a crisis, they are also deeply impacted by the economic hardships the communities face. The public health crisis and coinciding economic impacts have increased funding strains on residents, businesses and nonprofits, particularly those who were already most vulnerable. This hardship threatens the sustainability of these organizations at moments where their services are most critical. A vibrant city requires effective community-based organizations and strong, diverse leadership throughout the nonprofit sector.

Many Providence neighborhoods experience poverty and have subsequently endured ongoing social and economic challenges that were highlighted by COVID-19 disruptions. These neighborhoods stand to directly benefit from a community-led investment strategy that supports these nonprofit organizations whose work  improves the social, environmental, economic, and educational opportunities of neighborhoods and city residents.

ARPA funds allocated through this grant program will support the operational capacity of nonprofit organizations so that they are able to continue to provide critical social services such as small and minority business assistance, behavioral health services, healthcare, job training, food pantries and childcare to residents of Qualified Census Tracts(QCTs) most disrupted by COVID-19.

 

INVESTMENT

Grant funding of $1,000,000 is available to Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC) oriented nonprofit agencies for targeted capital improvement projects. Organizations can submit applications for an investment in a capital improvement project up to $150,000.

 This funding has been allocated through the City of Providence’s ARPA budget, which addresses the areas and populations that have been the most disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Race, ethnicity and income are the primary factors which fuel these inequities between groups of people . This grant program will provide grants to expand the operational capacity of business, cultural and social support organizations that serve neighborhoods and populations within ARPA Qualified Census Tracts.

The City reserves the right to fund, in whole or in part, any, all, or none of the applications submitted by each organization in response to this NOFA.

ELIGIBLE PROJECTS

The Expanding Operational Capacity Grant Program will be administered through the Office of Economic Opportunity. The program will provide grants of up to $150,000 to nonprofit business, cultural, and social support organizations to directly assist those organizations in strengthening their operational capacity through transformative capital improvement. These capital improvement investments will allow these organizations to deliver critical services, and also further assist organizations in carrying out their mission by assisting in providing a dedicated space to do so.

 

ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS

The Providence Municipal Reparations Commission adopted four eligibility categories for recommended reparations investments that would most accurately reflect the City of Providence’s unique history and also respond to the residents in the present day with the most measurable need. Population served must meet at least one of the following criteria.

Indigenous People:  People who are a part of social and cultural groups that share collective ancestral ties before the European settlement of Providence and Rhode Island, including the natural resources where they live, inhabit, or from which they have been displaced.

African Heritage People: An ethnic group consisting of people with ancestry originating from sub-Saharan Africa. Today, the city’s African heritage residents include, but are not limited to, African American, African, Bi-racial, Afro-Latino, Cape Verdean, and Afro-Caribbean.

Qualified Census Tracts and Neighborhoods:  Under the final U.S. Treasury ARPA rule, recipients of funding “were allowed to presume that families residing in Qualified Census Tracts (QCT) or receiving services provided by Tribal governments were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.” Providence QCTs eligible for these programs include Upper and Lower South Providence, Washington Park, Mount Hope (Lippitt Hill), Olneyville, Fox Point, Hartford, Elmwood, Smith Hill, Wanskuck, and Manton

Residents Facing Poverty: Providence residents/households earning less than 50% of the Area Median Income that are considered to be very low-income. Preference given to residents/households earning less than 30% of AMI who are considered to be extremely low-income households. Individuals who are eligible for programming include:

  • Residents who were born in the City of Providence or,
  • Non-College students who have lived in Providence, Rhode Island for a minimum of three (3) years or,
  • For people who moved to Providence to attend a college or university, three (3) years from the last date of enrollment.

 

ELIGIBLE FUNDING AREAS

  • Building and/or Facility Acquisition: The acquisition of property for the purpose of providing services.
  • Information Technology Improvements: Improving information technology capacity through upgrades to hardware and software, networking, websites, and staff training to optimize use of technology and increase accessibility.
  • Multi-Purpose Community Facility Projects: The construction or improvement of a designated building space designed to increase the nonprofits ability to provide services and resources for community benefit.
  • Renovations or Expansions of Existing Space: the use of modifications to provide for sustainable, efficient spaces that would result in overall energy and cost savings; accessibility renovations; and technology upgrades to improve electronic records, data analysis, and/or confidentiality.
  • Planning: Research development costs and uses, including data gathering, feasibility studies, community engagement and public feedback processes, equity assessments and planning, needs assessments; permitting, planning, architectural design, engineering design etc.

The submitted proposal should include:

  1. Contact Information: Individual or organization name, address, phone, and email. If applying as a collaborative, please identify a lead applicant and provide the information for each partner organization.
  2. Proposal Narrative:
    1. Description of Transformative Areas of Investment: how the capital project will assist in executing the nonprofit’s mission and developing capacity.
    2. Description of the negative impact that COVID-19 has had on your organization and your community.
    3. Description of goals, tasks, and activities.
    4. Description of how your nonprofit meets the eligibility requirements.
    5. Measures of Success: how the nonprofit will gauge its improved efficiency, reach, and effectiveness. How the community will benefit from the improved capacity.
    6. Organizational Experience
      1. Describe previous experience of implementing programming that is responsive to the needs of historically underinvested communities.
    7. Staffing:
      1. Roles and qualifications of all relevant organization staff.
      2. If you’re collaborating with other organizations to staff or consult on this project, please identify the roles and responsibilities of all partnering organizations.
    8. Timeline: On a separate sheet include the proposed timeline of work.
    9. Budget:
      1. Funding proposal: Provide a spreadsheet that includes costs and descriptions for allowable expenses. Additional budget lines or categories may be added or removed as appropriate.
      2. Funding timeline: Please identify how your proposed budget will be spent by December 31, 2023.

 

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

Applicants seeking to apply for this grant program must be based within the City of Providence and must meet 2 or more of the criteria detailed in the “Qualification Criteria” section to be funded as a part of this grant application.

In order to seek funding for a capital improvement project through this NOFA, applying organizations must be located in Providence and be led by BIPOC leadership and or/staff, or be an organization whose work impacts BIPOC populations within Qualified Census Tracts (QCTs) in Providence. Organizations must also be in positive standing with the City of Providence. All proposals are subject to follow guidelines outlined within the ARPA Sample Contract in addition to the ARPA Handbook: City of Providence SLFRF Manual.

Qualification will be based on the following factors:

Qualification Criteria:

  1. Strong community standing and experience with a long-term commitment of providing social, business, or cultural services within Providence.
  2. Serve at least one of the four above-mentioned populations served.
  3. Established history of managing large-scale programs and initiatives.
  4. Organizational ability and overall capacity to provide supportive social services within Providence or related underserved communities.
  5. Demonstrated success and measurable patterns of achievement that can be used to benchmark future accomplishments.
  6. Clearly defined funding plan completed as a part of this application.

 

 INELIGIBLE USES

Funds available through the Expanding Operational Capacity Grant Program cannot be used for or as:

  1. Organizations that are not located within or do not serve populations living in Qualified Census Tracts
  2. Private businesses or companies
  3. A deposit into pension funds
  4. A contribution of matching funds toward other federal grants
  5. Debt servicing, replenishing financial reserves, or satisfying settlements and judgments
  6. Funding cannot be used to supplement already existing and established programs
  7. Projects that are politically driven or affiliated

 

APPLICATION PROCESS AND TIMELINE

The Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) offers this Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) on November 9, 2022, for interested nonprofit organizations to apply. OEO will keep the NOFA open until 4:00 PM on December 9, 2022. Any application materials submitted outside of the aforementioned timeframe will not be accepted or reviewed.

 OEO will host application workshops from November-February in target areas and neighborhoods to answer questions about the NOFA application and process. Participation in one of these workshops is highly recommended, but not mandatory. Any questions asked during the workshops will be recorded and shared publicly for the benefit of applicants and the community. For more information about the upcoming workshops, please email economicdevelopment@providenceri.gov.

Completed applications received by 4:00 PM on December 9,2022 will be screened in order to determine whether the Application meets minimum threshold eligibility requirements. City staff will evaluate each complete and eligible application according to the priorities identified herein.

 

FUNDING DECISIONS

Funding is limited. Applications that meet all of the NOFA’s general guidelines and requirements may not necessarily receive an award. OEO may recommend funding a project or service for the full amount requested, or less than the full amount, or not at all. There are no requirements or expectations that OEO must award all or any funds through the NOFA process.

OEO reserves the right to postpone or cancel this NOFA, if it deems it to be in the best interests of OEO to do so. OEO reserves the right to waive any technical or formal errors or omissions, and to reject any and all proposals, or to award contracts, either in part or in whole, if deemed to be in the best interests of OEO.

Successful applicants shall be in complete compliance with all of the specifications, terms and conditions of the proposal. OEO shall have the right to inspect the facilities and equipment of the successful applicant to ensure such compliance. OEO shall not be liable for any costs incurred in the preparation of proposals or for any work performed in connection therein.

Application reviews and awards are contingent upon applicants being current to the City on any loan, contractual, or tax obligation as due, or with any rule, regulation, or provision on existing or past City contracts.

 

FEDERAL CONTRACT PROVISIONS

Recipients of ARPA funds are subject to required federal contract provisions. Required conditions may be found in Attachment A: Sample City of Providence ARPA Agreement which also includes an ARPA Exhibit: ARPA Handbook – City of Providence SLFRF Manual. These conditions are subject to change.

APPLICATION DOCUMENTS

 

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