4 Things You Should Know About ARPA Funding

Brittany LaPointe \
September 29, 2022

A number of our grantee organizations working in the youth development field are closely watching the City of Akron’s “Violence Intervention and Prevention Program” (the “VIP Grant”). Through this program, the City seeks to deploy some of its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to nonprofit organizations that are help youth to find and remain on a life path of fulfillment and prosperity.

The City has already awarded two rounds of VIP Grant funding, totaling over $2mm to 15 organizations. The earlier grants were focused on preventing violence from occurring, stopping the progression of violence, and rehabilitating individuals with a history of violent behavior.

The next VIP Grant application period opens on October 1, 2022 and runs through October 31, 2022. In the upcoming round, the City is looking to fund programs working in the following areas:

  • Mentorship
  • Recreation Discretionary Time
  • Re-Entry Support
  • Police-Youth Relations
  • Mental Health, Traumatic Stress, and Substance Abuse 
  • Gun Violence Reduction
  • Community Awareness & Involvement

GAR Foundation applauds the City’s efforts to support youth. We value the many trusted, talented nonprofits in our community who do great work in this vital subject area. At the same time, we believe it is important that nonprofits pursue ARPA funding for the right reasons, with a full understanding of how the funding works, and a solid plan to deliver results. As such, we offer the following 4 things you should know about ARPA funding:

  • ARPA funding is different from the sort of grant funding you receive from local funders. The City of Akron website has a lot of detailed information about the ARPA grant application process, including an instructional video and forms you can preview. Take the time to review the information thoroughly so that you will have a sense of the work that goes into the application and performance of the grant.
  • ARPA grants are less flexible than general operating grants. Should you and your board determine that ARPA funding is a good fit for your organization, put careful thought into the grant budget you submit. Once you receive an ARPA grant, your organization must adhere to the budget categories you set forth in your application. For instance, if your staffing expenses are greater than you anticipated and your supplies run lower than budget, you are not able to adjust the dollars you allocate toward those items.
  • ARPA grants from this program will be made on a “reimbursement” basis, so careful financial planning and projections are a must. A reimbursement grant is one that is paid to the grantee organization in periodic installments, after the organization incurs expenses and submits proof of them to the grantor. In the case of the VIP program, you should be prepared to submit an invoice and supporting documentation of expenses to the City monthly. Required documentation may vary depending on the budget categories and could include payroll records and receipts.

A reimbursement grant requires you to think carefully about a) whether your organization’s bookkeeping/accounting function is capable of handling the workload, and b) whether your organization has sufficient funding reserves to “float” your grant expenses for the first 3-4 months of the grant period. It often takes a little extra time on the front end of a reimbursement grant for the processing to kick in and for dollars to flow to the grantee. If your organization is not positioned to deliver services for a period of time before being paid, you may not be a strong candidate for this type of funding.

  • Have a plan about how to sustain grant-funded work after an ARPA grant expires. As part of the VIP application process, you’ll be asked to explain how your organization will sustain the work after the conclusion of the one-year grant period. You should do your due diligence in answering this question rather than making assumptions or guesses.

The City’s ARPA funding programs present exciting opportunities to advance good work for the youth of our community. Organizations that pursue the funding thoughtfully, with solid financial planning, will be best positioned for success.

View the latest update to the City’s spending plan here.