Baltimore area nonprofits will be able to submit ideas for how the city can use $641 million in COVID-19 recovery funds it will receive from the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott announced Monday.
“These dollars will not just go towards my administration’s ideas for a healthier, more equitable and better Baltimore; we also want to use these dollars to fund important community-based ideas and initiatives,” he said.
Nonprofits will be able to submit proposals through an online portal, located at arp.baltimorecity.gov, beginning Oct. 1. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. Projects must have a minimum request of $250,000, with no maximum.
The announcement follows the establishment of the Mayor’s Office of Recovery Programs, a city office responsible for administering and managing the funds, in July, and a subsequent announcement that city agencies would be able to submit proposals.
All proposed projects will go through a vetting process, Scott said, which will include an initial screening by a seven-member team, followed by the Office of Recovery Programs and other advisers working directly with the applicants to further develop the proposal. A review team will score the final proposals before making recommendations to the mayor.
“Proposals where equity and partnership are central tenets of the project will be scored the highest,” Scott said.
The Office of Recovery Programs will hold a virtual information session for any interested organizations on Sept. 28 to provide further details about the application process.
Scott also announced that the first round of awards, which will go towards initiatives proposed by city agencies, will be announced throughout September and October. The initiatives will include investments in violence-reduction programs, economic recovery efforts that focus on Black, Brown and women-owned businesses, and broadband and digital equity projects.
Transparency surrounding how ARP funds are spent will be a priority for Scott and his administration, he said, with the Office of Recovery Programs providing quarterly updates to the city council. The office’s annual reports, which are submitted to the U.S. Treasury Department, will be available on the office’s website as well, as will information about the selected proposals.
The city also plans to develop maps, dashboards and other tools that will help illustrate how the funds are being used.
“I am excited to serve as chief recovery officer and provide transparency and accountability for this historic ARPA investment in the City of Baltimore,” said Shamiah T. Kerney, who heads the Office of Recovery Programs, in a press release. “Since I started this position in July, I, along with my team, have been working to develop internal control standards for the implementation of these funds and making refinements to the application process for the benefit of internal city agencies and external nonprofit organizations that will apply for these funds. We look forward to funding projects that will make tangible and measurable progress in the city, while balancing adherence to federal requirements for these funds.