Can Youth-Serving Nonprofits Tap into the Strengthening Communities Fund?

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Nonprofits may be able to partner with grantees under the Strengthening Communities Fund to build their capacity, according to a November funding tip published by The Finance Project.

Awards under the $50 million U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) program were allocated to state, local and tribal governments and nonprofits, which were expected to use the money to build the capacity of other nonprofits with services like technical assistance and training. The idea behind the program, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, was to improve the charitable support provided to disadvantaged populations hard hit by the economic downturn.

Winners of the nonprofit capacity-building awards, in fact, had to subgrant at least 55 percent of their federal grant to project partners (other nonprofits) through a competitive process. The

New York Council of Nonprofits, for instance, received $1 million from the feds and awarded $600,000 to 40 community-based nonprofits in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx.

The Finance Project recommends that youth-serving organizations check the list of grantees to see if they “have a presence in their communities, and contact these organizations to learn about financial assistance or the capacity-building opportunities.”

If organizations are unable to access this new pipeline of assistance soon, however, they may be out of luck. While the Obama administration asked for $50 million to renew the program this fiscal year, congressional appropriators did not honor the request in either the House or Senate committee spending bills passed earlier this year. The fiscal 2010 HHS spending bill – where the program would be contained – was combined with several other outstanding appropriations measures and sent to the president over the weekend. It does not appear that the fund received a budget, although House lawmakers wrote in an earlier version of their spending bill that they “will consider future funding recommendations pending an evaluation of the program.”