TAMPA, Fla. — During the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare workers, grocery store employees and first responders were all seen on the front lines. But in the background, nonprofits also stepped up to the plate and provided crucial services for families in the community while they lost funding sources.
It’s things like outdoor sun shades and WiFi hot spots that nonprofits like Champions for Children never thought they’d need to budget.
“We had to buy hardware computers, webcams for families that didn't have access. We bought them tablets, we bought WiFi hotspots, and all of that was so that we can stay connected to families in those very early days of the pandemic when there was a lot of unknowns and uncertainty and stress,” said Amy Haile executive director of Champions for Children in Tampa.
Champions for Children is one of the only organizations in Florida focusing on preventing child abuse and neglect before it happens. They do that simply by providing a free, safe space for children and parents to learn, play, and grow.
“So financially, it's been a real kind of up and down roller coaster through the pandemic,” Haile explained. “Unfortunately, we also lost grants during the pandemic where funders were no longer able to continue those services.”
According to the Peer To Peer Professional Forum, 75% of nonprofits had to host virtual fundraisers during the pandemic and for many events like March for Dimes and Walk MS that cut their previous profits in half.
Now, more than one-third of U.S. nonprofits are in jeopardy of closing within two years due to the financial harm of the pandemic, according to a study by philanthropy research group Candid and the Center For Disaster Philanthropy.
Hillsborough County partnered with the Community Foundation Tampa Bay to launch a nonprofit safety net program. The groups invested $5 million of $285 million in Federal American Rescue Plan funds to support nonprofits on the front lines of the pandemic.
“We saw that our nonprofits were increasing the level of service that they needed to provide, but also incurring additional expenses,” Katie Shultz with the Community Foundation Tampa Bay. “We are funding churches, we are funding food banks, programs that are providing medical services, shelters, drug and alcohol rehab centers, after-school programs — those programs that are key to this community and have become even more essential during the pandemic,” she added.
So far, the safety net program has approved about 60 applicants at $1.8 million dollars.
“It is a one-time check. We have tried to keep the application process as simple as possible, knowing that these nonprofits have a lot going on and we want to get this money to them as quickly as possible," Shultz said.
Based on their annual revenue, Champions for Children received $30,000 dollars — money the group said means a world of difference for growing needs in the community.
“In some of our services, our attendance is skyrocketing,” Shultz. “We are so thankful for these dollars being made available to nonprofits in our community because they have allowed us to be here for families when families needed us most.”
The last day to apply for a grant is June 10. Click here to apply.
Click here for a list of nonprofits you can donate to.
To qualify, a nonprofit agency must be:
- Physically located within Hillsborough County, including cities of Tampa, Plant City, and Temple Terrace;
- Provide COVID-19 impacted Hillsborough County residents essential safety net services covering housing stability services, congregate living safety services, medical services, food services, elder care services, training and adult education services, mental health services, and childcare and education services;
- Active, open, and operating (in person or virtually);
- Registered as a 501(c)(3) for one full calendar year prior to applying for the award;
- Fully licensed as a nonprofit, and up to date on tax payments/filings to include a recently filed IRS Form 990, 990-EZ, or 990-N no later than 2019 or an independently audited financial statement from the most recently completed fiscal year;
- Directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in at least one of the following manners:
o lost revenue due to pandemic-based causes, e.g., due to shutdowns, lost sponsorships, inability to hold fundraising events;
o incurred unplanned costs to comply with safety and health standards and/or reopening requirements, e.g., modifying facilities for social distancing; o incurred unplanned costs for new programming designed to assist those disparately impacted by the pandemic and its economic effects;
o incurred unplanned costs for technology to enable virtual work
- Must provide a narrative explaining the impact of COVID-19 on the nonprofit’s operations;
- Must attest to not using requested funds for the same costs for which previously received County CARES Act awards were used; and,
- Must not have received or have been approved to receive County ARP funding via a separate initiative, project, or program