The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)—the $1.9T economic stimulus bill signed into law by President Joe Biden last year—is a historic infusion of relief dollars designed to speed up the country’s recovery from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the next several years, ARPA will deliver significant, flexible resources to state and local governments to fill budget holes and pay back borrowed funds, address health and economic issues exacerbated by the pandemic, and invest in critical water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure.
Across California, Latino leaders have been advocating for the equitable spending of these dollars to ensure that relief reaches all communities. So far, their advocacy has resulted in notable wins:
– Los Angeles Unified—the second largest school district in the nation, where Latinos make up 73 percent of the student population—scored $2.5 billion to pay for services and programs that address students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs. Los Angeles also issued $5,000 “Comeback” grants to 5,000 small businesses impacted by the pandemic.
– In Merced, youth organizers campaigned and won $1.25 million for a youth job training program. City officials also invested $6.5 million in affordable housing, and $1 million in stimulus payments for residents.
– 20,000 low-income Santa Ana households will receive $300 in cash assistance this month as part of the city’s Revive Santa Ana stimulus program.
– Monterey County has set aside $4.9 million for the VIDA project (Virus Integrated Distribution of Aid), which consists of ten community-based organizations and 120 Community Health Workers (CHWs) providing COVID-19 response supportive services to the most disparately impacted communities.
– Over the summer, Oxnard made history when it became the first city in the nation to allocate $2.5 million of ARPA funds to provide essential workers—including full and part-time retail grocery and drugstore workers—with premium pay.
None of these wins would have been possible without community leaders lifting their voices to ensure that local elected officials prioritized the equitable allocation and spending of ARPA funds, focusing on those most impacted the pandemic.
The Work Ahead
2022 will present additional opportunities for Latino leaders to weigh in on how local governments should spend ARPA funds. Frontline communities, including Latino and immigrant workers, risk falling further behind if there is not an intentional focus by local decisionmakers to deliver measurable benefits to those most impacted by the health and economic fallout created by the Covid-19 crisis.
This is why the Latino Community Foundation is thrilled to invest a historic $1 million in Latino-led nonprofit organizations across the state working to ensure the Latino community benefits from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
These grants will come from the Latino Power Fund, LCF’s latest philanthropic initiative to build civic and political power for Latino communities across the state. Grant awards will range from $25,000 to $50,000, depending on the size, scope, and focus of the organization.
Organizations interested in this grant opportunity will have until March 1, 2022, to apply. For more information, please click here.
Written by Eduardo García, Senior Policy Manager at the Latino Community Foundation.