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Blueprint votes for another $1 million grant package to local nonprofits

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Published: Apr. 16, 2020 at 10:05 AM EDT
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By: Monica Casey | WCTV Eyewitness News

UPDATE: April 17, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency's nonprofit grant program is open for applications.

Nonprofits can receive local grants of $2,500; that money comes from a total of $1,000,000.

You can apply here: http://oevforbusiness.org/lean/

By: Monica Casey | WCTV Eyewitness News

April 15, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency has voted to distribute $1 million of local aid to non-profits in Leon County and Tallahassee.

The vote was 10-1, with Leon County Commissioner Rick Minor as the "no" vote, due to his opinion on how the grants would be distributed. Minor was hoping the grants would be disbursed in a tiered program, similar to Blueprint's CEDR program from two weeks prior for local businesses.

The grants will instead be distributed at a flat rate to local nonprofits; the number of each grant has not yet been decided, but they will come from a total of $1,000,000.

Hours of Discussion

Blueprint staff originally suggested using about $200,000 for non-profits, but multiple commissioners did not think that was enough money.

"They're dying out there. And they're the ones that are providing providing services to the most vulnerable communities," said City Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox.

Mayor Dailey suggested using $750,000 for nonprofits, but Williams-Cox's friendly amendment to his motion brought the final number up to one million dollars.

That money will come from Blueprint 2020 projects that have not yet been initiated; some proposed taking $500,000 from the Lake Lafayette project, and another $500,000 from the Monroe-South Adams Placemaking project.

Moving money away from those projects will push back each one's timeline.

The need for aid to nonprofits

During the COVID-19 crisis, leaders in the nonprofit sector say services are needed even more, especially for the vulnerable and elderly populations.

Felina Martin is the Executive Director of the Institute for Nonprofit Innovation and Excellence. She says local funding should keep employees working.

"They are in dire need of that support financially as the demands of the nonprofit sector have increased, so have the demands on the employees and staff."

She says nonprofit services are vital during the pandemic.

"There are organizations, non-profits that provide, free mental health counseling. And they're struggling with that right now," said Martin.

Second Harvest CEO Monique Ellsworth says the response will take many months, getting the community back on its feet.

"The need for support from our local community is huge," said Ellsworth.

Nicole Ballas is the Director of Fund Development at Elder Care; she says while they've been forced to roll back some services to keep social distancing, others are even more vital.

"Meals on wheels is serving a lot more seniors, we also have an emergency food pantry, and we've seen an increased need there," said Ballas. "We're applying everywhere we can right now, but there are still some gaps that need to be filled."

Her organization is planning to apply for any possible local funding.

"Elder Care is still fiscally stable right now, we do have other funds coming in, but there are some gaps that need to be filled, especially for our food pantry," said Ballas.

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