April 17, 2020
Grant Funds Available to Local Governments and Nonprofits
by Adele L. Reester, Shareholder
School and special districts throughout Colorado continue to make adjustments in conducting business operations and educating students during the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic, expending funds in response to the numerous public health orders and school closures. Following the federal and state emergency disaster declarations, many of these local governments have executed their own emergency declarations to help navigate these uncharted waters. While these emergency declarations may be useful in exercising powers to operate in the COVID-19 environment, they are also beneficial for applying to access state and federal grant dollars for the reimbursement of these unanticipated COVID-19-related expenses.
The State of Colorado has established a grant fund to assist local governments, as well as other nonprofits and small businesses with prevention, impact, and recovery efforts due to COVID-19. The application and information regarding eligibility requirements can be found here.
The deadline for the first round of applications (which was focused on the eligibility grounds of prevention and impact only) was April 4, 2020. However, subsequent rounds of applications are due April 18, May 2, May 16, and May 30, 2020. The fund will continue until the money runs out (it began with approximately $8 million) or so long as donations come into it. If the school or special district is funded within the first two application cycles and funding is still available, then the entity may reapply after expending the received funds.
On the federal level, school and special districts impacted by this pandemic may also qualify for reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for up to seventy-five percent (75%) of eligible expenses related to COVID-19. Local governments impacted by COVID-19 are encouraged to apply for Public Assistance Grants (PA Grants) through the FEMA website.
Because FEMA typically deals with property damage due to natural disasters, such as hurricanes and tornadoes, which the COVID-19 pandemic does not lend itself too, FEMA has simplified its application for funding reimbursement based upon these circumstances. It has taken out all references to property damage assessments in its forms and is trying to quickly approve requests. Applications can be completed online where the school or special district can track the progress of the grant approval. FEMA understands the gravity and scale of COVID-19 and wants to ensure that grants are quickly processed and distributed. Therefore, along with simplifying the documentation required, FEMA is requesting local governments to proactively apply for PA Grants, rather than wait for FEMA to assign a Program Delivery Manager. If the event that the local government’s circumstances require immediate assistance, it can also request expedited assistance.
Presently, FEMA is only permitting reimbursement of funds for Category B Public Assistance. Emergency protective measures conducted before, during, and after an incident are eligible if the measures:
- Eliminate or lessen immediate threats to lives, public health, or safety; or,
- Eliminate or lessen immediate threats of significant additional damage to improved public or private property in a cost-effective manner.
The following activities are considered to be Category B Public Assistance subject to reimbursement:
- Transporting and pre-positioning equipment and other resources for response
- Flood fighting
- Emergency Operation Center (EOC)-related costs
- Emergency access
- Supplies and commodities
- Medical care and transport
- Evacuation and sheltering, including that provided by another State or Tribal government
- Child care
- Safety inspections
- Animal carcass removal
- Demolition of structures
- Search and rescue to locate survivors, household pets, and service animals requiring assistance
- Fire fighting
- Security, such as barricades, fencing, or law enforcement
- Use or lease of temporary generators for facilities that provide essential community services
- Dissemination of information to the public to provide warnings and guidance about health and safety hazards using various strategies, such as flyers, public service announcements, or newspaper campaigns
- Searching to locate and recover human remains
- Storage and interment of unidentified human remains
- Mass mortuary services
- Expenses related to operating a facility or providing an emergency service
- Mosquito abatement
- Repair of residential electrical meters
- Temporary relocation of essential services, including safe rooms for schools
- Snow-related activities when specifically authorized in the declaration
The above list is from the Public Assistance and Policy Guidelines, which is not an all-inclusive list. The government actions included this category list are ones that support saving lives and protecting public health and safety.
FEMA will begin conducting virtual applicant briefings for the Public Assistance grants on April 16, 2020.
Attorneys in the Government Practice Group at Lyons Gaddis are available to advise you in relation to grant options and other COVID-19 related matters impacting your current and future operations.