55 nonprofits get combined $15 million of Omaha’s federal COVID recovery money

Originally published: June 30, 2022

55 nonprofits get combined $15 million of Omaha’s federal COVID recovery money

Fifty-five local nonprofits will receive a combined $15 million in grants from the City of Omaha’s allotment of federal American Rescue Plan Act money for pandemic recovery.

The grants, ranging in size from $50,000 for the 100 Black Men of Omaha to over $700,000 for Siena Francis House, will go to a wide variety of organizations that provide a host of human services, according to a list announced Wednesday by Mayor Jean Stothert and officials of the Omaha Community Foundation and United Way of the Midlands. The city contracted with the two nonprofits to manage the distribution of the money.

The selected organizations should begin receiving the grants in July. The money comes out of the City of Omaha’s $112 million allotment from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, an economic recovery initiative of President Joe Biden’s that Congress passed in 2021.

The grant program represents the single largest investment of funding the City of Omaha has ever made in the nonprofit community, the Mayor’s Office said. Stothert called it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity Wednesday.

The city allotted $10 million to the Omaha Community Foundation to distribute to nonprofits for programs including gang prevention and intervention, mental health, crisis response and assistance to unemployed workers, including workforce readiness training, certification and employment services.

United Way of the Midlands received $5 million to give to organizations that address such basic needs as access to food, shelter and health care, as well as behavioral and mental health services, health promotion and education, financial literacy, family support and services for people experiencing homelessness.

The agencies sought to expand or enhance existing programs with the ability to sustain themselves beyond this infusion of one-time funding, officials said Wednesday. Nonprofits applied for grants through the United Way of the Midlands and Omaha Community Foundation.

Some of the larger amounts are $637,560 to Heartland Family Services, $610,000 to OneWorld Community Health Centers and $600,000 to Heartland Workforce Solutions. The Charles Drew Health Center will receive $600,000 for community-based crisis intervention, and Completely Kids will receive a combined $560,000 for three programs: out of school time for vulnerable youth, weekend food and mental health services for youths and families.

A complete list of grant recipients is on the City of Omaha website.

Leaders at United Way of the Midlands and the Omaha Community Foundation said they received many more applications than could be funded.

“The pandemic brought new challenges and it also revealed barriers to opportunity and widened gaps for many families,” said Shawna Forsberg, president and CEO of United Way of the Midlands. “The ARPA dollars target high-need populations, agencies that have demonstrated specific and compelling uses of funding that respond to COVID and assist with recovery throughout the community.”

Stephen Jackson, chief operating officer of North Omaha Area Health, said the nonprofit will be able to expand mental health support for people seeking services at its free clinic. He said the grants will help meet community needs that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Jackson said he was thankful to Biden, Congress and the city.

“They did acknowledge this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Jackson said. “However, the needs aren’t once in a lifetime. The needs are ongoing.”

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