CARES Act Funds Available for Nonprofits and Food Pantries
As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, the State of Mississippi established the Community Foundations (CF) COVID-19 Grant Program during the 2020 legislative session. The program is administered by the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA), which has issued rules governing the program’s operations. CARES ACT reimbursement grants due to COVID-19 expenses, a total of $4 million for nonprofit entities and an additional $4 million for food pantries, is provided through the state’s seven community foundations.
The Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi (CFNM) oversees $1.2 million in CARES Act funding ($600,000 for nonprofits and $600,000 for food pantries) to be allocated to fourteen counties: Bolivar, Carroll, Coahoma, DeSoto, Grenada, Leflore, Marshall, Panola, Quitman, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tate, Tunica, and Yalobusha. To date, the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi has granted $118,660 to 20 nonprofits and food pantries.
When the legislature returned in early October, there were substantive changes made to the legislation that included expansion of the nonprofits definition to include additional organizations like civic clubs and increased reimbursement funding after November 15 for qualifying nonprofits up to $12,000 from the original $4,000 limit.
“Currently, over 100 nonprofits have created an application or completed the grants process,” Keith Fulcher, President of CFNM, adds. “We need more qualified applications in order to grant the entire $1.2 million. Nonprofits are encouraged to carefully read the guidelines and apply. All grant requests for reimbursement must be meticulously supported by receipts and documentation showing a revenue loss or expense due to COVID-19.”
Here are some helpful answers to see if this funding is right for your organization:
- Can my nonprofit apply for reimbursement of cleaning supplies for COVID-19? Yes! A nonprofit or food pantry may be reimbursed for funds used to purchase sanitizer products and cleansers, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and even the costs of creating social distancing measures.
- What if my nonprofit had to purchase additional technology? Yes! Contactless equipment may qualify as a reimbursable expense. If you had to purchase items such as tablets or anything to conduct a virtual learning environment, those qualify, too – and expenses to facilitate a teleworking environment!
- Our food pantry had to get our volunteers COVID tested before we could reopen. Is this funding for us? Yes! COVID tests and screenings may be reimbursed. And do not forget to include any items you purchased to track participants in your nonprofits mission who have tested positive or if you had to quarantine any volunteers.
- We are a nonprofit that facilitated a socially distanced summer camp and we delivered food boxes to participants, something we would not normally do. Do we qualify for $12,000? YES, and MORE! You can qualify for up to $24,000! If you are a nonprofit AND you supplied food during the pandemic, you may receive $12,000 as a nonprofit and $12,000 under the food pantry option.
- What if my nonprofit incurred additional utilities since we had to open more days a week to help those in need? Yes, if you had to keep your doors open additional days to distribute food or provide other assistance to those in need, you may be eligible to be reimbursed for the amount above last year’s expenses.
- Can my nonprofit receive reimbursement for donated items or services? No, only additional expenses incurred. In-kind services and donations so not qualify.
- Our library system expanded their programs to include an employment/training program for those who have lost their job or been furloughed. Does that qualify? Yes! That is an additional expense incurred due to COVID.
- Our nonprofit did not have additional expenses, but we have not been able to hold events or fundraisers. Do we qualify and how do we submit proof? Yes! Fundraising revenue lost due to COVID cancellations may qualify. Simply show the event revenue streams last year versus this year.
- What is the legal criteria to qualify for consideration of a CARES ACT GRANT? The ONLY criteria is that the nonprofit must be registered at the Secretary of State’s Office. For example, a Volunteer Fire Department or civic club may qualify if they are registered with the Mississippi Secretary of State Office.
- How does my nonprofit apply? Applications for a grant must be completed online through the grant’s portal at www.mscaresgrant.com, which is accessible via all web browsers except for Internet Explorer. Funding is on a first-come, first-served basis. Applications are accepted ONLY through the grant portal.
Please be aware of the following key dates in this application process:
- March 1, 2020 – December 30, 2020 – Eligible expenditure timeframe for reimbursement requests.
- November 15, 2020 – Funding maximum increases from $4,000 to $12,000. All applicants in system will receive an email notifying them of this change, and applicants previously approved for $4,000 will be able to submit supplemental documentation for the additional $8,000
- December 15, 2020 – Deadline for interested applicants to create an account (organizational information, user information, program director, and password for account) and complete the eligibility quiz.
- January 15, 2021 at 5:00 pm CT - Deadline for full application submission.
For more information about CARES Act Funding through the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi, call 662.449.5002 or visit www.cfnm.org/grants/cares-act-funding/