Riverside County Supervisor Karen Spiegel Tuesday will seek her colleagues’ support to establish a $5 million fund earmarked for aid to nonprofits that are struggling to stay afloat following the government’s public health shutdowns stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.
Spiegel announced her idea for the “Riverside County Nonprofit Assistance Fund” during last week’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting, but she did not yet have the proposal ready for consideration.
“The nonprofits get cut first. If they don’t have the money in the bank, they can’t be giving it away,” Spiegel said during the previous board meeting. “They haven’t been able to have their fundraisers, and we need them in our communities. We need to do what we can for them.”
The supervisor was discouraged that not-for-profit entities were not included when the board set up a $45 million Small Business Assistance Grant Program, which is available until June 19.
Under the program, up to 4,500 enterprises with 50 or less employees can apply for individual grants of $10,000 each. The money was made available under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security — CARES — Act signed into law by President Donald Trump in March. The county received a total $431 million in CARES allocations.
The proposed Riverside County Nonprofit Assistance Fund would also rely on CARES money.
Spiegel pointed out in documents posted to the board’s Tuesday agenda that thousands of residents have turned to food banks and other nonprofit organizations for help amid the government-mandated shutdowns of economic sectors.
“Our local nonprofits are now facing significant financial issues stemming from dramatic increases in service provision, loss of revenue and loss of volunteers,” the supervisor wrote. “As we work to provide interventions to support our local business community, we must also work to support the nonprofit sector, which has continued to provide invaluable community services during the pandemic.”
According to Spiegel, there are 7,511 nonprofits registered countywide, generating $3.7 billion in economic activity, or 5% of the county’s gross domestic product.
The supervisor is proposing that qualifying organizations be eligible to apply for individual grants of $2,500 to $10,000 each.
“We estimate that we can serve more than 400 nonprofits with these grants,” Spiegel said. “Grant applications will be funded based on location, size of the agency, financial need and the direct impact of COVID on the agency’s operations.”
She is advocating that the county designate the Riverside-based Inland Empire Community Foundation as the administrator of the $5 million fund. The IECF, which has been in operation for nearly 80 years, manages its own community assistance programs and provides other not-for-profit organizations with technical support.
Spiegel estimated that, if the board approves the Riverside County Nonprofit Assistance Fund, entities could begin submitting grant applications by July 1, and the program would be available for 90 days.