As part of the City of Boston’s budget hearing process, the Boston City Council invited TSNE’s CEO Elaine Ng to testify on the impacts of COVID-19 on the sector, and the potential for American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to provide recovery relief for the critical services the sector provides to the City and its residents.
When the federal government passed ARPA, nonprofits were included as eligible direct recipients of recovery funds. This presented an unprecedented opportunity for local governments and nonprofits to work together to fund an equitable recovery plan.
In her remarks, Elaine highlighted this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to provide direct relief to nonprofits, especially smaller nonprofits led by and serving people of color:
“As my colleagues on this panel have pointed out, ARPA allows for direct nonprofit relief and the opportunity to think creatively and boldly. We don’t need to be boxed in to the old paradigm of the City contracting nonprofits to do more work.
Allocate funds for direct relief to support the sustainability of our City’s nonprofits and the health of our workforce — a workforce that is worn down and exhausted from two years of direct crisis response, so that we can continue the work of supporting our City and its residents."
Elaine went on to note that Boston’s nonprofit sector workers, including many people of color, met the challenges of the past two years, and now needed Boston to think boldly and equitably about supporting them and the critical work they do every day.
TSNE’s Vision for Boston’s ARPA Funds
In addition to the recommendations provided by fellow national and state nonprofit leaders, Elaine focused on five specific ways that Boston’s ARPA funds can support area nonprofits:
- Funds for core operations, preferably via unrestricted operating support, so that nonprofits can continue their activities and its staff can earn a real living wage in Boston.
- Funds focused on mental health and physical well-being so that nonprofits can provide staff with relief through self-care, wellness activities, or organizational retreats.
- Funds for leadership retreats focused on employee well-being.
- Funds for rent relief and physical plant improvement enabling nonprofits to retain and improve their performing, meeting, office, and gathering spaces.
- Funds to create wrap-around capacity building support for small nonprofits in an effort to decrease administrative burdens.
Elaine was joined by the following leaders in testimony:
- David Thompson, Vice President of Public Policy, National Council of Nonprofits
- Jim Klocke, CEO, Massachusetts Nonprofit Network
- Bob Giannino, President and CEO, United Way of Massachusetts Bay
- Michael Weekes, President and CEO, Providers' Council
- Amanda Hartigan, Associate Director of Programs Learning and Engagement, The Boston Foundation
- Read Elaine’s testimony (pdf)
- Watch the Boston City Council meeting with testimonials
- Learn about the opportunity for nonprofit support in the ARPA. Read the National Council of Nonprofits' special guide, “Strengthening State and Local Economies in Partnership with Nonprofits: Principles, Recommendations, and Models for Investing Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds.”