Take the Survey
Help communities by sharing the pandemic’s impact on your nonprofit
Every nonprofit has felt the pandemic’s effects differently, and each has had a front-row view of how the pandemic has affected local communities. We are partnering with the Federal Reserve on a survey to create a comprehensive picture of the effects on nonprofits and the communities we serve, both nationwide and in individual states. The results will help nonprofits inform policymakers at every level of government about the challenges we all faced this past year and can help nonprofits advocate for further relief. Your views are important, but time is running out; the Fed has extended the survey deadline until this Friday, August 27. Please take 15 minutes to complete the survey today to help inform equitable recovery programs and policies.
After you take the survey, we encourage you to share the link with other nonprofits you know so we can help create the most complete picture possible. Thank you.
House Acting on Senate-Passed Spending Bills, Voting Rights
The House interrupts its seven-week recess to return to DC today to consider spending and voting rights legislation. If Speaker Pelosi gets her way, the House will pass the Senate-passed Budget Resolution (S. Con. Res. 14) on Tuesday, but not vote on the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684) until after the Senate approves the $3.5 trillion Budget Reconciliation bill that would advance President Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda. However, the success of this strategy is in doubt because several moderate Democrats in the narrowly divided House are calling on the Speaker to allow passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill this week before calling up the budget measure for votes. For more details on the standoff, read these articles in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post. In the event the House does advance the Budget Resolution, House and Senate Committees will work over the next three weeks to produce legislation to be incorporated into a Budget Reconciliation bill to spend trillions to expand numerous social programs like the child tax credit, free education at the pre-K and community college levels, and paid leave, while increasing taxes on higher-income individuals and corporations.
The House is also scheduled this week to vote on the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4). The legislation seeks to restore and strengthen voter protections by requiring federal reviews of any changes to voting rules that could discriminate against voters based on our race or background. It would override the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder that struck down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that protected voters in areas with a history of voting discrimination. YWCA USA, among other nonprofits, is actively advocating in support of the legislation, writing, “We must restore the federal government’s ability to block state and local governments from passing racially discriminatory bills so that we all can safely and freely cast our ballots and have an equal say in our futures.”
Census Population and Redistricting Data Released
The U.S Census Bureau has released detailed population and redistricting data that show a more racially and ethnically diverse population than ever before. These data provide a complete picture of the nation’s population, including how the ethnic, racial, and voting age makeup of neighborhoods have changed since the 2010 Census. Specifically, this initial set of data gives the first look at the demographic characteristics of the nation by state, county, and city — all the way down to the census block level. Details include race and ethnicity, population for ages 18 years and over, occupied and vacant housing units, and people living in group quarters like college dorms, military barracks, nursing homes, and prisons. Every state became more diverse over the past 10 years, with data showing more non-White and mixed-race persons and more people moving to and living in metro areas. The data files will be used to redraw voting districts for 429 congressional districts in 44 states and 7,383 state legislative districts across the country. Nonprofits can also use the new data for strategic planning and operational decisions for the communities they serve.
Status of Extended, Expanded Unemployment Benefits
The extended and increased jobless benefits enacted in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) are set to expire just before Labor Day. The Biden Administration has sent word via a letter from Treasury Secretary Yellen and Labor Secretary Walsh that it is not calling on Congress to keep the benefits flowing, but is urging states to use their ARPA allocations to address the needs of unemployed workers in their states. While citing positive economic news, the Secretaries write, “there are some states where it may make sense for unemployed workers to continue receiving additional assistance for a longer period of time, allowing residents of those states more time to find a job in areas where unemployment remains high.” The letter, sent to the House and Senate tax committee chairs, cites three actions they are taking to facilitate use of ARPA funds for this purpose: 1) clarifying the legality of paying for extended benefits, 2) providing instructions on how the states can do so, and 3) providing an additional $47 million in new CAREER grants to support unemployment services. The Secretaries also serve notice that President Biden is calling on Congress to address long-term unemployment insurance reform as part of the budget reconciliation process.
- Nonprofit Employment Data: Nonprofit employers added nearly 70,000 jobs in July, reflecting 10% of the private non-farm jobs added nationwide during the month, according to new analysis from the Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins University. Including adjustments to June jobs data, nonprofits still have not filled 615,000 of the estimated 1.64 million jobs lost during the pandemic. These positive results were recorded, however, before the surge in COVID cases and hospitalizations due to the Delta variant. Therefore, the report warns, the recovery of nonprofit jobs may “stall or reverse — especially in fields like the arts and education, where capacity limits and shut-downs can have significant impact on employment.”
- ERTC Guidance on Gross Receipts: Treasury and the IRS provided a favorable answer to the question: can employers (including nonprofits) exclude revenues from COVID relief when calculating “gross receipts” for purposes of determining eligibility for Employee Retention Tax Credits (ERTC). Specifically, Revenue Procedure 2021-33 issued this month provides a safe harbor permitting employers to exclude from gross receipts solely for determining eligibility for the ERTC the following three amounts: 1) the amount of the forgiveness of a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan; 2) Shuttered Venue Operators Grants under the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act; and 3) Restaurant Revitalization Grants under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. An employer can exclude these amounts solely for determining whether it is an eligible employer for each calendar quarter in which it claims the ERTC on its employment tax return. This is a favorable result and clarifies that nonprofits need not treat forgiven PPP loans as revenues, something many accountants had told their nonprofit clients (incorrectly) they had to do.
- SNAP Benefits Increased: Beginning Oct. 1, the average benefit for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, commonly referred to as food stamps) will increase by 21 percent, or $36.24 per person a month. The increase, the first time in 45 years that SNAP’s purchasing power has been updated, is expected to improve food security, particularly among low-income families, and reduce demand on food banks and other food assistance programs typically operated by nonprofits. More than 42 million Americans rely on the program each month. “Ensuring low-income families have access to a healthy diet helps prevent disease, supports children in the classroom, reduces health care costs, and more. And the additional money families will spend on groceries helps grow the food economy, creating thousands of new jobs along the way,” said Agriculture Secretary Vilsack.
- Child Tax Credit Boosts Local Economies: The monthly payments from the federal government for the expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) boost local economies throughout the country by almost $20 billion each month, according to a report from the Joint Economic Committee (JEC) of Congress. Specifically, the report found that the expanded CTC payments on August 15 helped almost 61 million children and gave eligible families an average of $428 this month. The JEC estimates that as families use their funds to buy goods and services, they produce nearly $19.3 billion in additional spending in local economies each month, generating income for other individuals and businesses. As previously reported, the expanded CTC is expected to cut childhood poverty in half and according to data from the Census Bureau is already causing declines in food insufficiency and financial hardship. For more information on the expanded CTC and what your organization can do to help spread the word, read the Council of Nonprofits blog article, Are the People Your Nonprofit Serves and Nonprofit Employees Receiving the New Child Tax Credit Yet?.
- Public Comments on Public Service Loan Forgiveness: The U.S. Department of Education is inviting public comments on Strengthening the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program for people working in public service – including at charitable nonprofits – to offer input. The announcement recognizes that the program has not lived up to expectations, stating, “for too many public service workers, the program has not functioned the way they hoped it would.” The National Council of Nonprofit previously submitted comments on barriers that must be removed to promote and ensure forgiveness after program participants meet the requirements for PSLF. Individuals and nonprofits are encouraged to submit their own public comments by September 24; the more separate comments the better. Also, join in the social media campaign calling on the federal government to honor its promise of loan forgiveness to public service workers.
Spending ARPA Funds
Focus on States and Localities Lagging Behind
At least ten states have not yet spent any of the resources allocated to them from the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. As of last week, South Dakota had not even asked for its funding and localities in South Carolina have not received their allotted money. Michigan and Minnesota have agreed to use some of their funding for immediate needs, but they have spent only a fraction of their respective pools. Some state legislatures, including Alaska and Texas, are expected to convene special sessions to finalize budget decisions and appropriate ARPA funds, while other states have no plans to make decisions until 2022. With many state treasuries flush with revenues, states are not in as much of a rush to access and spend the ARPA money. As states and local officials determine how to use the funds, nonprofits should be positioning themselves as the best partners for investing in communities.
Examples of Targeted Spending Priorities
State, local, and Tribal governments continue to identify spending priorities for their portions of the $350 billion American Rescue Plan Act allotments, including for housing supports, youth services, direct payments to residents, and workforce training. Here are a few recent examples:
- Housing and Homelessness: The City of Tallahassee and Leon County in Florida announced an agreement to spend $6.3 million of their ARPA funds for homelessness and housing. The funding and program will be administered by several community homeless shelters and a partnership between a local nonprofit organization and government program serving the area. In Minnesota, the Minneapolis City Council has allocated nearly $102 million of its first round of ARPA funds, dedicating $28 million for affordable housing.
- Youth Services: The Missouri Department of Economic Development approved tax credits totaling $17.7 million for more than 100 local nonprofits throughout the state. The Neighborhood Assistant Program and Youth Opportunities Program provides tax credits of 50 percent and 70 percent, respectively, to promote donations to eligible nonprofits that provide services to at-risk populations, prioritizing those serving young people. Nonprofits in Nassau County, New York are set to receive approximately $17.9 million in grants to expand youth, aging, and behavioral health programs with $10 million set aside for organizations that are not officially under contract with the county. Nonprofit youth programs are slotted to receive a 20% increase in government grants and contracts for educational and academic support, after-school programs, counseling, youth employment, and recreational programs.
- Direct Payments: In Minnesota, the Minneapolis City Council approved providing approximately 200 households with $500 monthly allowances for two years. The Basic Income Pilot Program will prioritize households earning 50 percent of the Area Median Income to promote equity in the region. City Councilmembers and the Mayor of Seattle in Washington State agreed to expand a direct assistance program from last year that provided nearly $8 million to immigrant and refugee families. A new appropriation of $25 million will open the program to all low-income families for payments of between $1,000 to $3,000. Chicago, Illinois is considering dedicating $30 million for $500 per month for families with low incomes. Likewise, the Mountain View City Council in California is considering allocating $1 million for a Guaranteed Income Initiative.
- Workforce Development and Job Training: Several localities are also using ARPA dollars to increase funding for workforce development and job training programs. Chicago, Illinois is targeting adults over age 50 for digital literacy classes and planning, interviewing, and personal branding. Flint, Michigan is providing childcare, car repair, and rental assistance for trainees, and San Antonio, Texas is providing an additional $450 per week while unemployed persons gain job skills. Lawmakers in Wisconsin have approved $130 million in ARPA monies for three workforce development programs to break “systemic barriers” to employment, like lack of transportation options and childcare.
Read the Special Report, Strengthening State and Local Economies in Partnership with Nonprofits, for more ideas on how nonprofits can encourage governments to partner and invest the ARPA funds to support direct impact in the communities they serve.
New Nonprofit VOTE Power Report and NRVD is Right Around the Corner!
Today, Nonprofit VOTE released its Nonprofit Power Report, an analysis of voter engagement efforts in 2020 that not only shows the amazing results of nearly 200 nonprofits in seven states promoting nonpartisan voter engagement, but also identifies practical steps nonprofits can take for impact in communities. Read the report today and join the Nonprofit Power: Engaging Voters for a More Inclusive Democracy webinar tomorrow, Tuesday, August 24 at 2:00pm Eastern. And, don’t forget to become an official partner for National Voter Registration Day on Sept. 28, 2021! Sign up now for #NationalVoterRegistrationDay and be #VoteReady with toolkits and swag!
Turning Opportunity into Actions
The $350 billion in funds made available to state, local, and Tribal governments through the American Rescue Plan Act are being called a “once in a generation opportunity.” As discussed above and in previous editions, governments at all levels are pursuing diverse agendas and addressing unique priorities with their allotted funds. Unless nonprofits act now, the opportunities presented by the ARPA funds will pass them by. Numerous state associations of nonprofits are committed to making sure nonprofits in their communities know about the funding opportunities, act on them, and secure the funding needed to advance their missions. Here is a sampling of ways state associations of nonprofits are promoting advocacy in action.
In New York, the Coalition to Advance Nonprofits has developed Recommendations for New York State’s Use of American Rescue Plan State and Local Relief Funding. The document calls on “the state to prioritize the nonprofit sector, focus on sustainability, and include nonprofit partners for substantive roles when planning task forces for the use of ARPA funds.” It also urges “state and city leaders to spend their respective portions of the ARPA funds in a way that ensures the greatest impact for the public good and with an explicit and demonstrable focus on creating equity.” Key recommendations include centering racial equity from the outset, reform nonprofit contracts, provide premium pay for essential workers, including employees of nonprofits, and expressly including nonprofits in relief to education and senior care. The coalition is a sector-wide group of over 100 nonprofits coordinated by Nonprofit New York.
Washington Nonprofits starts with the basics, explaining What Nonprofits Want Government Partners to Know and how nonprofits are vital to the state’s economic and social recovery. To illustrate how “the American Rescue Plan (ARPA) offers [Washingtonians] a unique opportunity to invest in activities that strengthen our people, our communities, and our economy,” the state association of nonprofits showcases several recent successful partnership stories between government and nonprofits. One case study involved Cheryl Smith with the Washington State Department of Commerce, who came to realize in getting CARES Act funding out to communities in need that the state had “a history of under-inclusion in funding nonprofits.” The state then recognized that, “going forward, they needed to include nonprofits in the conversation because it’s these organizations who are adept at understanding the needs of the communities they serve.” The result of this government-nonprofit partnership there? “I loved it, absolutely loved it,” said Smith.
Similarly, the West Virginia Nonprofit Association states the challenge at the outset of its web resources: “The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) is an opportunity for West Virginia to put the wellbeing of communities first. Our communities need help and nonprofits have been the bedrock of connecting with and uplifting West Virginia Communities, especially during times of crisis and recovery.” The state association of nonprofits goes farther and, in a recent call to action, urged nonprofits to “help state and local leaders in setting priorities and designing fund distribution processes that will ensure that those federal funds do the most good in the communities you serve.” To provide support to frontline nonprofits, the association has posted a template letter and a list of contacts for local government officials in West Virginia. And there’s more. The state association of nonprofits also put together ARPA Topline Messages and 10 Funding Principles for ARPA to help nonprofits make the case for investment in their missions.
The work continues. The North Carolina Center for Nonprofits is convening a webinar in early September to identify ways nonprofits can partner with state and local governments to make the best use of ARPA funds. The state’s Pandemic Recovery Office will offer an overview of ARPA funding in North Carolina, including the amount of funding available, permissible uses of funds, the process for distribution of funds, and the timing for allocation of funds by local governments. Then, the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits will provide an update on the NC General Assembly’s allocation of state ARPA funds. Finally, the Center will give insights into trends in nonprofits’ needs and ways that nonprofits can engage with their local governments to advocate for meaningful and equitable allocation of local ARPA funds.
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For more ideas on how nonprofits across the country are seizing the opportunities afforded by the American Rescue Plan Act, read Using the Advocacy Tools You Have, watch the August 10 webinar Investing ARPA Funds in the Work of Charitable Nonprofits, and study the recommendations and successful examples identified in special report, Strengthening State and Local Economies in Partnership with Nonprofits.
Read more examples of Advocacy in Action,
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