The Greene County Board of Commissioners awarded more than $150,000 to eight local nonprofits as part of the Greene County Grants Program, created by commissioners to disburse American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, dollars the county received from the federal government.

According to Eric Henry, director of development for the Greene County Department of Development, the grant program is “the perfect vehicle to partner with local organizations that are already doing good work in Greene County every day.”

The eight nonprofits that received the grants are: Yellow Springs Senior Citizens Inc., the organization behind the Senior Center; Friends Health Association; Yellow Springs Community Children’s Center; Antioch College; Miami Valley Public Media, the media organization behind 91.3 WYSO; Yellow Springs Chamber of Commerce; Yellow Springs Community Foundation; and the Yellow Springs Arts Council.

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Grants ranged from $8,000 to $25,000, with $25,000 being the most a nonprofit could request from the county. Henry said the amounts awarded are determined by the amount each nonprofit requests and how well the nonprofit’s intended use of the money meets guidelines set by the federal government.

“Different organizations were rated differently on factors such as community impact, adherence to ARPA guidelines [and other factors] were used to provide quality guidance to the Board of County Commissioners in selecting grant organizations,” Henry wrote in a recent email to the News.

The News was able to speak with representatives of several recipient organizations to find out what they plan to do with the grant money.

Caroline Mullin, executive director of the Senior Center, said some of the $8,000 the center received will be used to stabilize funding after the center suspended membership dues in the midst of the pandemic.

“Some YSSC members chose to pay dues anyway, but the net loss was about $8,000 in a typical year,” Mullin said.

The remaining funds will be used to complete the van modification for the Senior Center. The modifications will allow center volunteers to transport participants who use wheelchairs.

The van was purchased earlier this year with a grant from the Greene County Council on Aging, and preliminary modifications have already been made.

“This is the first time that YSSC has had a vehicle that can accommodate people in wheelchairs,” said Mullin.

Friends Health Care Association, the group that manages Friends Care Community of Yellow Springs, received $25,000. The News was unable to contact Friends Care officials by press time, but a project review from Greene County commissioners said Friends Care intends to use the funds to convert all of its semi-private long-term care rooms to private rooms.

For Dana Zaki, director of the Yellow Springs Community Children’s Center, the grant means some of the village’s youngest residents will have an age-appropriate outdoor play space. Zaki described the news of the grant as “exciting” and said the money would be used to refurbish the centre’s playground and create a third playground equipped with developmentally appropriate toys.

Adding student services is also a goal of Antioch College, which received a $25,000 grant. Matt Shetler, director of communications, said the college will use the funds to strengthen student mental health services.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and increased the need for health services, particularly mental health resources for college students,” Shetler said.

Shetler said the additional resources will be used to support faculty and staff in professional development who will “share knowledge about student support, teaching and learning as an academic community.”

Local radio station WYSO is looking to pay for it with ARPA funds. Cathy Mayne, WYSO’s business support manager, said the $25,000 the station raised will go to support WYSO’s new “New Business Support” program, a program aimed at Greene County businesses and nonprofits still feeling the effects of the COVID-19 shutdown. 19 and limitations.

According to Main, WYSO will work with five local businesses to create messages that will be read by WYSO program hosts “for free.”

“Small businesses were disproportionately hit by the closures and restrictions imposed in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many are still feeling the effects,” Mayne said. “We’re limiting the number of businesses that will receive these special packages so that we can ensure that each one gets enough airtime for their campaign to have a recurring effect.”

Other community organizations, such as the Yellow Springs Chamber of Commerce, will use the funds to continue traditions that benefit local businesses. Ashley Mangen, treasurer of the Chamber of Commerce, said the Chamber will use its $25,000 in grant funds to host the 2022 Fall Street Fair.

“We are very grateful to the county commissioners because this is money that the Chamber really needed to recover from the effects of COVID-19,” Mangen said. “This money will help the Chamber get back on its feet after not being able to hold a street fair since 2019.”

Mangen said the grant funds will be used to pay for a number of items, including accessible portable bathrooms, stage areas and sound systems.

The Yellow Springs Community Foundation will use the $25,000 grant it received for start-up costs associated with YS Equity, an effort to provide Universal Basic Income (UBI) cash to low- and moderate-income families and individuals who are not live .

Len Cramer, a Miller associate who works on YS Equity with the Community Foundation, said the funds will cover the costs of consultants familiar with building UBI funds in other communities and setting up an evaluation system so the group can measure its success and impact. Cramer said more information about YS Equity will be available in the coming weeks.

The Yellow Springs Arts Council received a $13,600 grant that will go towards basic operating costs. The News was unable to reach an Arts Council representative at press time, but according to a project overview, the Arts Council plans to use the ARPA funding for its “arts after COVID” program, “a comprehensive community project designed to revitalize the Village of Yellow Springs with a fully staffed arts council”.

Reflecting on the process, Henry said the county commissioners had a vision to spend ARPA dollars in a way that would directly benefit community members.

“In creating this program, the Greene County Commissioners wanted to invest in our communities by distributing ARPA funds in a way that every Greene County resident receives some tangible benefit from these federal dollars,” Henry said. “We have received nothing but positive feedback on the creation of this program, and our department has been honored to participate in its administration.”