Over the next few months, perhaps longer, MNA will be keeping you informed about Montana’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) priorities and funding streams as it relates to nonprofits. ARPA is complex and navigating the ARPA terrain seems slightly out of reach for ordinary human beings. However, there are some things we can do to learn more and determine what ARPA-related opportunities might exist for our communities and/or organization:
- MNA will host an ARPA webinar on August 18 at 10:00 a.m. with ARPA Director Mike Foster, DPHHS Director Meier, and a representative from Department of Commerce to offer more information on ARPA. This will be a great informational and Q/A session and I hope you’ll join us.
- The Montana ARPA website is good. I recently did a search of the ARPA websites from several northwest states and found that, other than Alaska, other states don’t have a one stop info-shop for ARPA. Kudos to Director Foster for getting this set up and for his commitment to transparency. The site now has information about grants added to each priority area.
- I sat in on the Economic Stabilization, Transformation, and Workforce Development Commission meeting last week and I recommend listening to that recording, or to any of the Commission meetings. It helps to become acquainted with the various aspects of the plan, and it’s an opportunity to weigh in with decision makers. There is a place for public comment via the Contact Us tab on the website, and I hope you’ll use that.
- Last week the Montana Association of Counties sent this letter from MNA forward to County Commissioners. You might recall that a significant amount of ARPA funding is going straight to local government, separate from funding the Legislature had purview over. The letter we sent was based on a publication put forward by the National Council of Nonprofits. It has some pragmatic suggestions for how local government can partner with nonprofits as they deploy ARPA programs/funds, and why they should consider doing so. I recommend reading the report and considering how you might be a partner and resource to local government.
- Montana has established a Health Advisory Commission to recommend how ARPA funds allocated to the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) are to be used. DPHHS is seeking public comment and soliciting ideas for programs that have discretionary funding. A part of each commission meeting is reserved for reviewing comments and proposals for various funding priorities. Visit this website to see the priorities and submit comments or funding proposals for each priority. Submitting public comment is our best chance to make our voices heard and ensure that the impacts we are seeing in our communities are reviewed and addressed. Please spend the time to review the funding priorities and submit your ideas.
- Finally, please keep MNA posted as you learn more about opportunities and challenges related to ARPA. We are your advocates – asking that nonprofits be included in funding eligibility, community planning events and conversations, and be understood and recognized as an essential part of Montana’s social and economic wellbeing. Our achievements during the recent Legislative Session were a result of two-way conversation between MNA and our members. This is the same situation; we will offer all the information we have, and we hope you’ll do the same. You can email me directly at [email protected] or [email protected].
ARPA represents opportunity for us as a sector, but comes with significant limitations. We encourage you to participate and even lead community conversations about how ALL members of your community can realize the benefits of the opportunities in front of us. Thank you for all you’re doing. MNA will be setting up our own ARPA webpage in the next few days and we’ll use that to keep you informed as we move forward.