June 28, 2021

Dane County Nonprofits Eligible for Grants

By Tom Linfield

Tom Linfield

As we slowly emerge from the rubble of the pandemic, people are walking the streets mask free, wondering if COVID really is behind us. It’s wonderful to see people out and about, old friends reconnecting, family members visiting, stores and museums reopening, and a return to normalcy emerging.

The pandemic, though, has a long tail. For the 3,000+ nonprofits in Dane County, many of which have been working overtime to serve communities in dire need of services, 2021 may prove as challenging as 2020. Furloughed staff are returning, doors are opening and safety protocols are evolving, but the need for funding and volunteerism is stronger than ever. How do we best support the nonprofits as they move forward?

One way, of course is financially – investing in nonprofit community assets. 2020 saw an outpouring of increased philanthropy and it would be wonderful to see that generosity continue. But the strain on some organizations has outstripped this support.

Dane County has been allocated federal grant funds under the State and Local Government Assistance Program included in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to help address increased nonprofit need. Dane County has selected Madison Community Foundation to develop and conduct a $5 million grant program for local nonprofits that have experienced financial impact from the COVID-19 pandemic.

All Dane County public 501(c)(3) organizations are eligible to apply, and we anticipate that grants will range from $2,500 to $50,000 for unrestricted use, depending on revenue losses and COVID-related expenses in 2020. You can find more information, including the answers to frequently asked questions and the online application portal here. The application portal opened on June 25 and will close on July 19.

The application itself is short (one page), primarily contrasting annual organization budget figures from 2019 and 2020 and asking about COVID-related expenditures. We also will host an informational webinar for grant applicants on June 30 at 10:00 a.m. You can register here.

It has been a year of struggle, but also a year of innovation. A year in which agencies had to furlough staff and shutter venues, but also a year in which nonprofits moved to digital teaching, arts agencies provided lessons and content online, and nonprofits increased their services to the newly unemployed.

Several major capital campaigns were successfully completed during the pandemic. As you emerge into the light, you will find the east side bustling, with the new Madison Youth Arts building, Madison Circus Space, and Arts and Literature Laboratory all opening their new facilities. And this week a multi-million dollar gift was announced for a new Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra building that soon will be built on East Washington Avenue.

On Park Street you will find the new offices of Urban Triage and the Black Chamber of Commerce. Plans are afoot for a major Urban League business incubator building. One City Schools is planning their new elementary school and the Boys and Girls Club is working on a youth workforce center.

The vision of our nonprofit leaders is putting wind into the community’s sails. It is inspiring to see the commitment and the passion, not exactly bottled up during the pandemic, but certainly hidden from sight. Now that we all rub our eyes and rejoin the community, there is so much to be thankful for and so much exciting work to be done.


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