City of La Crosse designates La Crosse Community Foundation to administer $2 million from rescue act to nonprofits

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — A city of La Crosse committee unanimously approved a pact with the La Crosse Community Foundation Thursday in which the foundation will cull nonprofit organizations’ applications for nearly $2 million in American Rescue Plan Act money.

Under the memorandum of understanding, the foundation will be paid $60,000 for administering $1.94 million from the act’s Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds Program.

Members of the city’s Finance and Personnel Committee wondered how city staffers chose the foundation for the role. Some also sought assurances that the disbursements would be well publicized.

Andrea Trane, the city’s planning, development and assessment director, explained that three city staffers were able to sift through small business applications from the rescue act’s fund for COVID-19 relief in March because the pandemic suspended much of their other work.

Now, however, as the city’s business moves toward normalcy, there is “more of a business-as-usual workload,” Trane said. The city can’t spare that much staff time, she said.

The agreement also is a “win-win” because of the foundation’s experience with examining nonprofits’ applications for money and deciding on amounts, Trane said.

“It’s a great fit for what we have to do,” she said, and the foundation is “most qualified by far.”

The MOU stipulates that it is intended “to help local nonprofits and to ensure an equitable, transparent and user-friendly process.”

The committee making the decisions will include three city staffers and six foundation representatives, Trane said.
Allowable funding categories include:

• Supporting public health expenditures

• Addressing negative economic impacts resulting from the public health emergency

• Serving the hardest-hit communities and families disproportionately harmed by the pandemic

• Providing premium pay for essential workers.

The MOU also outlines eligibility criteria for grants, noting that awards will be recommended only to nonprofits that:

• Are tax exempt under Section 501c3 of the Internal Revenue Code

• Have a physical presence and/or office within the city of La Crosse

• Meet preference guidelines such as being in good standing with IRS reporting requirements, have been in operation for at least one full year before the pandemic started in March 2020

• Adhere to aany other evaluation criteria the city’s Planning Department sets.

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