Nonprofits receive boost from ARPA grants


Photo pulled from Marion County, Florida government page.

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Posted August 18, 2022 | By Julie Garisto
julie@magnoliamediaco.com

Apart from the scorching heat, it almost felt like the morning of Dec. 25 when representatives of Marion County gathered with the Community Foundation of Ocala/Marion to give out funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to area nonprofits.

County commissioners joined members of the Ocala Marion Community Foundation at Wings of Faith Fellowship on Aug. 3 to award the first round of funding to His House for Her, Wings of Faith Fellowship ($400,000) and Empowered of Central Florida ($400,000).

On Wednesday, Aug. 10, two more recipients received funds, the Marion County Veterans Council ($50.000) and Sozo Kids ($400,000), a program developed and run by Help Agency of the Forest Inc.

According to Community Foundation Executive Director Lauren Deiorio 37 nonprofits applied for the grants. Some received training and guidance from foundation personnel so they would put their best “best foot forward.”

“The county got some great applications presented to them,” Deiorio added.

The application asked prospective recipients to answer demographic questions and describe all programs, projects and services that their nonprofit provides to Marion County residents.

The application also asked them to specify whether those who benefited from their services reside in rural and/or unincorporated areas, the target group that their programs or projects will serve.

“We know the scope of work that a lot of our local nonprofits are doing but sometimes they have trouble telling their story,” Deiorio said. “So, we had labs where they could come in with their laptops, and as they were working to write the narratives or answer the questions, our grant services team was there to help.”

The funds come from a federal grant from the Biden Administration, which established ARPA, according to its website, to “build a bridge to an equitable economic recovery and immediately reduce child poverty.”

Marion County has $4 million remaining out of the original $71 million awarded. At its Oct. 5, 2021, regular meeting, the Marion County Board of County Commissioners (MCBOCC) requested both the county’s community services department and the Community Foundation for Ocala/Marion County present proposed plans for how the remaining funds should be spent.

Of the Marion County ARPA allocation funds, $2 million is currently available for nonprofits through the Community Foundation, Deiorio said.

Allocations include $500,000 for broadband, $5 million for a waterline extension program, $10 million for waterline extensions in the Marion Oaks Area and $46 million for the water and sewer line extensions in Silver Springs Shores.

Additional disbursements include $2.4 million for water and sewer extensions in the State Road 200/Southwest 60th Avenue vicinity, a $2 million grant to College of Central Florida for new Nursing Facility, $1 million for CEP health-related business initiative, $2 million for affordable housing initiatives and $2 million for the Not for Profit Capacity in Rural Areas Grant Program.