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Delaware launches $25M fund to aid nonprofits

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Gov. John Carney and New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer are using CARES Act funding to lift up service-oriented nonprofits in the state.

WILMINGTON – Gov. John Carney and New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer on Wednesday announced a $25 million Delaware Nonprofit Support Fund, which aims to lend a hand to organizations that faced a financial hit while serving Delaware’s most vulnerable populations.

With funding from the federal CARES Act, Delaware is contributing $20 million and New Castle County is contributing $5 million. The program helps nonprofits reimburse operating costs incurred from COVID-19, such as the purchase of necessary personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies, as well as costs from increased service levels. Grants will cover expenses incurred until Dec. 31, 2020.

To be eligible for grant funding, nonprofits must provide services in homelessness and shelter assistance, food assistance, substance abuse counseling and services, domestic abuse services, services for youth in crisis, or residents who lost their jobs.

In the early days of the pandemic, Carney noted that several nonprofits stepped up to provide shelter to those in need and also reached out to the Hispanic and Creole population that worked in the poultry industry.

“This symbolizes an important effort to support our partners in the COVID-19 response and the work that they do,” Carney said in announcing the program Sept. 9. “Delaware could not get through this crisis without these committed service organizations. We owe them our support and our gratitude.”

Meyer pointed out that as operations shut down around the state, there were fewer opportunities for nonprofits to raise funds and an enormous demand from the communities they serve. Facing unexpected costs in buying hand sanitizer and high-speed internet, many organizations were left in the lurch.

“It wasn’t just problems for nonprofits, they were problems for our constituents the communities. It’s important that it protects not just the large nonprofits but the small grassroots one as well,” Meyer said. “[The governor] and I know people across our community are doing excellent work, and we’re proud to be part of a program that helps our nonprofits get out of this crisis a little stronger.”

To create an even field, Delaware Nonprofit Support Fund grants will be based on the nonprofit’s 2019 operating expense budget. It also excludes organizations that qualify for the state’s $100 million DE Relief Grants Program run by the Delaware Division of Small Business.

United Way of Delaware will take the lead on administering grants for applicants that apply to reimburse costs, while the Delaware Community Foundation will be in charge of evaluating applicants who seek grant funding for increased services.

The first round of funding will open on Oct. 16 and it is planned to be two additional rounds of funding. The Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Advancement (DANA) will host webinars on how to apply starting on Sept. 21 and a website, DECaresFunds.org, will go live next week with frequently asked questions and technical assistance.

“More than ever, Delawareans are relying on nonprofits to support them in these difficult times, and this program will help these agencies continue to make a positive impact,” DANA President and CEO Sheila Bravo said. “We appreciate the partnership with Gov. Carney and County Executive Meyer in making these grant funds available.”


By Katie Tabeling

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