by Maggie Stanwood
Nonprofits, programs and school districts in Sherburne County will receive American Rescue Plan Act funds after the Sherburne County Board of Commissioners approved applications for the funds at a meeting on May 3.
ARPA is a $1.9 million federal stimulus bill to help public health and economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. At a previous meeting in February, the board approved allocating $500,000 in ARPA funds to community resources. Applications were open through March 31 and the county received requests totaling $1.1 million.
County Administrator Bruce Messelt said the applications were reviewed closely to ensure the uses were in line with what ARPA funds are intended for and to ensure the projects serve Sherburne County.
“Our opinion is the funds need to be spent on Sherburne County citizens, residents, businesses, so when there’s any gray area there, we break that pretty cleanly,” Messelt said.
After recommendations from county staff, the board on May 3 approved increasing the funding allocation to $750,000 in total for community resources.
There were 11 applications totaling more than $429,500, and the Elk River Area School District was awarded $81,429 at the subsequent May 17 meeting to bring the total amount awarded to $510,997 for 12 organizations.
These applications approved on May 3 included:
•$20,000 to Great River Faith in Action in Becker for volunteer coordinator and client advocate positions.
•$43,849 to Princeton School District in Princeton for a youth skills training coordinator.
•$20,000 to the YMCA in Elk River for the Summer Power child care program.
•$30,000 to Big Lake Community Food Shelf in Big Lake for a facility remodel and capital purchase to increase capacity.
•$35,000 to Open Doors for Youth in Elk River for youth mental health programs and case management.
•$15,000 to Community Senior Services in Elk River for expansion of the Home and Technology Service programs.
•$96,000 to Big Lake Schools in Big Lake for mental health programming.
•$45,000 to Rivers of Hope in Monticello for domestic violence prevention.
•$90,000 to Becker School District in Becker for mental health programming.
•$15,000 to the CAER Food Shelf in Elk River for a facility remodel to increase public safety and expand capacity.
•$19,719 to Passing the Bread in Zimmerman for additional food and supply purchases to meet increased demand.
Commissioner Tim Dolan abstained from the vote on the YMCA application and Board Chair Barbara Burandt abstained from the vote on the CAER Food Shelf application, as Dolan is on the YMCA board and Burandt is on the CAER board of directors.
One board member pointed out that several of the applications are food shelves. Vice Chair Lisa Fobbe said with inflation, there has been an increase in people seeking food shelf assistance, but cash donations are down.
Elk River and Zimmerman projects approved May 3
Elk River YMCA
The YMCA in Elk River was awarded $20,000 for Summer Power, a child care program “to ensure the children and youth who participate in their programs are benefiting academically, socially and physically from their structured youth enrichment programming, particularly for diverse youth who experience disparities in education, health and economic mobility,” according to the application review. The program promotes literacy and STEM activities as well as daily physical activity, games, and social interaction.
Open Doors for Youth
Open Doors for Youth in Elk River, a nonprofit serving youth ages 16-24 experiencing homelessness or housing instability, was awarded $35,000 for case management and mental health programs. “Using a goal planning tool, they assist youth in identifying goals in the areas of education, employment, wellbeing, and housing. Working together, concrete steps are identified and they help them make progress towards goals,” according to the application review.
Community Senior Services
Community Senior Services in Elk River was awarded $15,000 to continue and expand their technology support service for older adults. The program provides one-to-one tech support during in-home appointments in Elk River, Big Lake, Zimmerman and Becker. “Their examples of requests might be installing and walking through resources like Zoom to connect to their favorite community social groups, making sure someone has a working cell phone they know how to use to order home supplies or for emergencies, educating program participants on safe internet usage and what to do if they feel an online account may have been compromised, and a host of other issues not only with computers, but with TV and audio/video systems,” according to the application review.
Community Aid of Elk River (CAER)
CAER was awarded $15,000 to purchase and distribute food. “The ability to purchase food products throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has enabled CAER Food Shelf to have a consistent, stable supply of food for individuals and families in need – even while food donations from other sources have been unpredictable,” according to the application review. Funds would also be used for products and services to ensure a “safe, socially distanced facility for their clients, volunteers, and staff.”
Passing the Bread
Passing the Bread in Zimmerman was awarded $19,719 to purchase food and supplies to meet demand. “Due to supply issues, it has been necessary to purchase some perishable items (e.g. milk, butter, eggs and cheese) at retail. That coupled with inflation has resulted in those higher food costs,” according to the application review. Additionally, COVID-19 has impacted the organization’s fundraising activities and donations are down by more than $2,700 during a quarter.
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