Nevada County antes up for COVID relief
Special to the Sierra Sun
Substantial resources are waiting in the wings for people impacted by the pandemic.
Those people can now come center stage, and apply for grants that can assist small businesses and nonprofits recover from the devastating impacts of COVID-19.
The American Rescue Plan, approved by the federal government last year, provided millions of dollars for Nevada County to recover from the affects of the coronavirus.
“It’s one of the first acts of the feds to direct money directly to counties, bypassing the state, and the county’s share was just shy of $20 million in two allotments paid over two years,” said Caleb Dardick, Nevada County projects administrator. “The Board of Supervisors chose to allocate 30% ($5.8 million) to benefit the community, particularly small business and nonprofits.”
Federal funding includes four grants and one loan program. The first grant was for $250,000, disbursed through the Nevada County Relief Fund last fall to small business. Now in the pipeline is a second grant for $2 million, with a cap on individual awards of $100,000. This Community Resiliency Grants program is aimed for nonprofits as well as small business, which was outlined in an Aug. 11 meeting that attracted an enthusiastic audience.
“Wow, what a turnout,” said Dardick. “We had 72 community leaders indicate interest in this grant. This is a great start, but we need you to read the grant description and related material from the federal government for your application to be successful.”
Along with the application the county is issuing a grant award agreement that all successful applicants must submit. Desiree Belding, deputy purchasing agent, will be in contact with all applicants to inform them their application has been received. Applicants should earmark Sept. 22.
“I need you to hold that entire day,” said Belding. “I know it’s a lot to ask. But it’s a definite juggling act for us to coordinate many interviews, if we need to interview many people. So, we’re not sure what your time slot could be for that day. But please block off that whole day.”
For the application there are a number of different criteria used to evaluate the most qualified candidates. These include an applicant’s entity description, COVID-19 impacts, project description, community benefit from the grant, leveraging partnerships, managing capacity and measurable outcomes, a budget, and financial data. These criteria each hold various point values, for a total of 150 points used to determine the most qualified candidates.
Dardick urged applicants to be specific about the impacts from the health emergency, and not generalize they were shut down because of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s shelter-in-place order.
“However, you get scored higher if you say, ‘We’ll make these changes in our operation, so we’ll more fully recover, so we’re more resilient than ever.’ It’s subjective, but it’s worth 40 points out of 150 (of the judging criteria).”
Dardick said it’s wiser to analyze an entity’s needs carefully and request an appropriate amount for an individual project. The county could not possibly fund $100,000 for each of the 72 organizations that participated in the video.
The Board of Supervisors will make a decision on Dec. 12 on the applicants. It may require another 30 days afterward to issue the awards, Dardick noted.
“The goal is to leverage the $2 million in federal funding to help our great community recover (from COVID-19) and become more resilient than ever,” he said.
William Roller is a staff writer with The Union, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at email@example.com
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