Wednesday, September 30, 2009

HHS Awards $46 Million in Recovery Act Funds to Create Jobs and Spur Economic Improvement

Georgia grants awarded go to DeKalb County, Spalding County Collaborative Authority for Families & Youth, and Athens based Area Committee To Improve Opportunities Now, Inc.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today awarded $46 million to 84 grantees under a new program, the Strengthening Communities Fund (SCF), created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The purpose of the grants is to improve the ability of nonprofit organizations to promote the economic recovery of people with low incomes.

"We are pleased to support nonprofit organizations that train people to land and keep jobs, earn higher wages, and reach economic independence," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "This is what the Recovery Act was meant to do-provide the help people need to help themselves."

The Strengthening Communities Fund is comprised of two programs, both of which will boost the ability of community and faith-based organizations to handle the broad economic recovery issues in their communities, including job training and retention and access to state and Federal benefits. All grants are one-time, two-year awards. The State, Local, and Tribal Government Capacity Building Program provides funds for government entities, which then in turn work with community-based organizations. The Nonprofit Capacity Building Program funds intermediary agencies, which also work with community organizations to enhance their economic recovery activities.

"The Strengthening Communities Fund is an important part of the overall recovery effort," said Assistant Secretary for Children and Families, Carmen Nazario. "The activities funded under this program will fortify organizations in distressed communities so that they can improve their services to people who need jobs and opportunities to secure healthier, more prosperous futures."

Under the State, Local, and Tribal Government Capacity Building Program, 29 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa are receiving awards between $167,000 and $250,000. Awardees include seven state governments, the District of Columbia, three U.S. territories, nine city governments, eight county governments, four tribal governments, and 18 nonprofit organizations that have been designated by governments as eligible to apply.

One of the grantees receiving funds under this part of the program is the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families in Madison. Wisconsin has been hit hard by the recession, and this project is directly focused on Recovery Act goals. The grantee will give training and technical assistance, education, and easily accessible information on Recovery Act opportunities to up to 500 organizations that serve the state's most vulnerable populations

Under the Nonprofit Capacity Building Program, 35 applicants will receive grants between $765,000 and $1,000,000. Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph in Missouri is one noteworthy project in this category with a long history of providing training and technical assistance to nonprofits. Their use of this grant will increase the operational capacity of about 40 local organizations through comprehensive education, mentoring, and funding. Further, the project requires that each nonprofit sponsor one young person who will learn how to manage and grow these organizations, thus creating the next generation of nonprofit leadership.

Another project in this category is in Knoxville, Tennessee. The Knoxville Leadership Foundation will work with partners from the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program as well as organizations focused on general economic recovery. Through a combination of direct funding and intensive technical assistance, the project will help 50 grassroots organizations improve their service to families in need of support.

"Faith and community-based organizations have been the backbone of strong neighborhoods for generations," said Joshua DuBois, executive director, Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. "The Strengthening Communities Fund is an acknowledgement of their key role in reaching the goals of the Recovery Act by helping people weather tough economic times."

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