Nonprofits hail anti-poverty aspects of COVID relief measure

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Advocates for nonprofits have hailed Congress’ passage of a $ 1.9 trillion pandemic relief measure that has the potential to lift millions of people out of poverty on a scale never before view from the New Deal.

The legislation, signed Thursday by President Joe Biden, expands a key loan program for nonprofits, increases funding for AmeriCorps and enacts or expands several programs to provide direct assistance to individuals.

Independent sector, an advocacy coalition of foundations and nonprofits, said the legislation “contains important and hard-fought victories for the non-profit sector and the people we serve during Covid-19 and in these times difficult economic conditions “.

However, the statement also complained that lawmakers failed to extend the charitable deduction and said the paycheck protection program was still far too restrictive.

Here is a summary of the main provisions of the measure that nonprofit advocates have been monitoring.

AMERICBODIES

The legislation includes nearly a billion dollars by funding over three years for AmeriCorps to expand national service programs to respond to the pandemic. It’s a big boost: AmeriCorps budgets in recent years have hovered around a billion dollars a year.

Funding will primarily go to existing programs to increase living allowances paid to AmeriCorps members and expand their ranks, although AmeriCorps officials are still working out the details.

AmeriCorps spokesperson Samantha Warfield said the measure will provide “the bold targeted investments we need to support the administration’s top priority of providing immediate relief from the pandemic.” She added that AmeriCorps can grow quickly.

AnnMaura Connolly, head of Voices for National Service, a group that lobbies for national service programs, said provisions in the legislation that increase the allowance paid to AmeriCorps members – which currently range from around 1 $ 120 to $ 2,230 per month for AmeriCorps Vista members – will be crucial in increasing the economic attractiveness of national service positions.

“Although the wording of the bill is not particularly directive, it identifies certain priorities, and one of them is important to increase the living allowance of those who serve, as it is very difficult to serve. if you don’t have extra support, ”Connolly said. “It’s very important from a diversity and equity perspective, and it will allow the company to put more boots on the ground and fill in the gaps as needed. “

Jesse Colvin, CEO of Service Year Alliance, said the national service arrangements were a “monumental” first step for the Biden administration’s national service plans.

“This will provide new, previously unattainable, opportunities for young Americans eager to serve and set the stage for President Biden, who has the opportunity to make service a fundamental issue of his administration,” Colvin said in a statement.

Additional funding includes:

– $ 620 million for state and national AmeriCorps programs, which provide grants to local nonprofits to hire AmeriCorps members for designated projects.

– $ 148 million for the National Service Trust, a program that repays certain student loans to AmeriCorps alumni.

– An $ 80 million boost for AmeriCorps Vista, which works with nonprofits and local governments on anti-poverty programs.

EXTENDED LOANS FOR ASBL

As part of a revival bill promulgated in March 2020, nonprofits with 500 or fewer employees were eligible for paycheck protection program repayable loans of up to $ 10 million. The new stimulus measure extends that eligibility to nonprofits that operate across multiple locations as long as no more than 500 employees work at one location, according to the National Council of Nonprofits.

ASSISTANCE TO ASBL WHO INSURED AROUND UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

The measure extends and extends aid to non-profit organizations which themselves provide unemployment benefits. Under previous stimulus legislation, the federal government covered half of the cost of employee benefits for its laid-off employees. The new legislation would increase the reimbursement rate to 75% from April 1 to September 6.

AID FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS

The legislation will provide $ 350 billion to state, local and tribal governments. Advocates for nonprofits say the money will prevent states and local governments from delaying or reducing payments to charities that have service contracts with them.

HELP FOR POVERTY PEOPLE

Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy estimates the stimulus will cut child poverty by nearly half, and advocates for nonprofits say it will reduce demand for overburdened charities.

It provides $ 1,400 in direct payments to most Americans in addition to the $ 600 assistance provided in the December stimulus bill..

The legislation also extends emergency unemployment benefits beyond their March expiration date until September 6 and increases the child tax credit.

It provides $ 20 billion in rental assistance plus $ 510 million for FEMA’s emergency food and shelter program to support organizations that provide services to the homeless.

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This article was provided to The Associated Press by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Michael Theis is a writer for The Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Dan Parks is editor of The Chronicle. Email: [email protected] The AP and The Chronicle receive support from the Lilly Endowment for coverage of philanthropy and nonprofit organizations. The AP and the Chronicle are solely responsible for all content.

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