From diapers to housing, historic American Rescue Plan funds have created huge opportunities to address local needs. Local governments and school boards across North Carolina are using those funds to make innovative investments in the community groups that know their populations best. A new tool from the Southern Economic Advancement Project shows just how those funds are being spent, and where.
Guilford County commissioners have been proactive in soliciting ideas and spending Rescue Plan funds on high-impact local projects that benefit kids. Commissioners just allocated $1.5 million to Ready for School, Ready for Life, to support a service navigator in each OB/GYN and pediatric practice in Guilford County. Navigators start before birth, connecting families to the local programs and services designed to help them with a healthy pregnancy and strong early childhood years.
Cumberland County commissioners just allocated an additional $500,000 for badly needed rental assistance. With demand for affordable housing high, the program is designed to help families who have an annual income of 80% or less of the county’s median income or lower.
Forsyth County commissioners recently invested federal Rescue Plan dollars to expand pre-K services to an additional 30 classrooms. This move will help Forsyth county early childhood advocates get closer to the goal of universal pre-K in the county.
In the Bull City, Durham City Council just approved a $340,000 grant of Rescue Plan funds to Book Harvest. The nonprofit organization, which promotes early learning and literacy, will use the funds to build more than 60 book boxes across the city. Book Harvest plans to place the book boxes in neighborhoods where young children are least likely to have their own library at home.
Babies Need Bottoms, Western NC’s only diaper bank, distributed more than 187,000 diapers in 2020 — a 393% increase from the previous year. With the huge increase in demand, Buncombe County commissioners recently allocated $50,000 in Rescue Plan funds for the program.
What about your community?
So far local governments in North Carolina have allocated over a billion dollars in support to community efforts, ranging from replacing aging local infrastructure, to job training and assistance programs. According to the Southern Economic Advancement Project’s tracker, about $375 million remains to be decided by city and county governments.
Is your local government using Rescue Plan funds to respond to the needs of kids and families? Use the SEAP tracker to find out.