A small cut of Baltimore’s hundreds of millions of dollars in federal pandemic stimulus will go toward initiatives by nine nonprofits, Mayor Brandon Scott said Wednesday, in the first of multiple funding rounds expected for the city’s nonprofit sector.

The grants target an array of investments, including in workforce development, educational opportunities for refugee youth and violence prevention in Baltimore’s LGBTQ community. The $7.3 million in funding comes out of Baltimore’s total $641 million allocation from the American Rescue Plan Act, President Joe Biden’s massive pandemic recovery package.

The Mayor’s Office of Recovery Programs, which was established to oversee the distribution of the city’s ARPA money, received a total of 322 eligible nonprofit applications totaling nearly $720 million in requests, with just a handful of those named among the inaugural awardees on Wednesday.

The announcement comes after Scott has taken heat from some City Council members who have argued his administration has moved too slowly on hundreds of applications for ARPA funding from the city’s influential nonprofit sector, since the close of applications in December.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

At a press conference at the mental health services nonprofit B’more Clubhouse, one of the recipients in the initial funding round, Scott highlighted the chance to get funding into the hands of organizations that don’t often have access to competitive grants like these.

“It was a decision that I made, automatically, that we went to invest in organizations that aren’t historically invested in,” said Scott. “What kind of mayor would I be — what kind of Baltimorean would I be — if I didn’t take the opportunity to say we have to help these organizations that just need a little investment to expand their great work?”

Scott promised that Wednesday’s announcement would be the first of multiple ARPA funding rounds for the city’s nonprofit sector, though he declined to say how much of the total stimulus pot his office would reserve for nonprofits.

The first-term Democrat also responded to criticisms on the timeliness of his administration’s funding rollout to nonprofits, stressing the importance of a rigorous process to ensure that the awards comply with federal guardrails on the distribution of the funds.

“I’m quite all right with the time,” he said. “Because I think what we don’t want to do is what we saw happen in the past when Baltimore rushed to give out all this federal money,” only for taxpayers to be left on the hook after the city had to send money back.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

The city has until the end of 2024 to allocate all of its ARPA funds.

The largest of the grants is for Urban Strategies, Inc., a St. Louis, Missouri-based nonprofit, for case management for residents at Perkins Homes, the public housing complex being redeveloped in Southeast Baltimore. Other awardees included Baltimore City Community College Foundation, Ministers Conference Empowerment Center CDC, and FreeState Justice.

While some city entities and quasi-government organizations have already decided to allocate some stimulus money towards nonprofit partners, Wednesday’s announcement represents the first round of grants being awarded to nonprofits who applied directly to the mayor’s office for funding. Including Wednesday’s announcements, nonprofits account for about $25 million of Baltimore’s announced ARPA allocations.

Office of Recovery Programs head Shamiah Kerney said the city drew on endorsements from City Council members, risk assessments and external nonprofit reporting data, among other factors, in deciding which applications to reward in this initial round.

“I know that the administration is on the right track, ensuring that we are focused on the recovery efforts in the city and making sure that we are touching the most vulnerable of our residents,” Kerney said.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Baltimore is one of only a few cities that have opened up their ARPA process to bids from nonprofits, Kerney said.

Wednesday’s awardees included:

  • $2,300,000 for Urban Strategies, Inc., for case management opportunities for residents affected by the redevelopment of Perkins Homes
  • $1,300,000 for the Price Center of Maryland for various strategies to address increased violence, especially among sexual and gender minority populations
  • $1,200,000 for Ministers Conference Empowerment Center CDC, for the creation of a workforce program offering science and math instruction, job shadowing, job placement and other opportunities
  • $500,000 for Baltimore City Community College Foundation, for supporting the academic needs of young refugees in Baltimore
  • $500,000 for B’More Clubhouse, for assisting individuals with mental illness and reducing their use of emergency services
  • $470,000 for FreeState Justice, to support health and housing providers for young LGBTQ residents
  • $450,000 for Wide Angle Youth Media, to support the participation of 200 people ages 10-24 in a variety of workforce and tech training programs
  • $371,000 for Baltimore Corps, for workforce development for for people of color and female-identifying residents
  • $285,000 for Bikur Cholim, for maintaining operations of a COVID-19 vaccination clinic, as well as food, transportation and financial assistance for patients

Eighty million dollars out of the city’s stimulus package has been set aside for budget stabilization, while much of the rest has been divided between investments in housing programs, city infrastructure, public recreation centers, COVID-19 response and many other initiatives.

A little over three quarters of the city’s total $641 million has been allocated to date, according to a dashboard maintained by the Office of Recovery programs.

Read more:

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.