American Recovery Plan Act

Can nonprofit leaders influence American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) funding in Alabama?

The National Council of Nonprofits suggests that our government and nonprofit organizations are “natural partners, serving the same constituents in the same communities.” The Alabama Association of Nonprofits could not agree more. Nonprofits are economic drivers in their communities and partners in providing essential services.

The American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) was signed into law on March 11, 2021. The plan aims to help the country recover from the impacts of COVID-19. A section of the law earmarked $350 billion for state, local, tribal nation, and territorial governments to provide “assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits, or to aid impacted industries.” The Treasury Department is managing the plan.

Conversations about how to spend these funds in Alabama have been happening around the state since ARPA was signed into law. Many have discussed how the money can be used, where it should be allocated, and whether nonprofits figure into these plans. Alabama nonprofits have a responsibility to talk with local leaders about how to spend these funds in their communities. Even if early plans have been made, most have not been finalized. Take the time to find out how your nonprofit might help. The National Council of Nonprofits has compiled dozens of examples of how nonprofits can serve their communities with funds provided by ARPA.

In a nutshell, AAN recommends that you:

• Set up a meeting to talk with your city and county officials about including nonprofits in your ARPA spending plan.
• Offer an example of how other nonprofits have helped and how your nonprofit could do the same.
• Share any work or insight that your nonprofit has regarding ARPA with the Alabama Association of Nonprofits.
• Join the Alabama Association of Nonprofits’ Advocacy Committee and help develop a strategy to ensure Alabama’s leaders fund nonprofits with ARPA dollars. Contact to join.

More Background

The Department provided early estimates of funding for cities, counties, and states, and they offered guidelines on potential uses of funding. The funding estimates have changed with updates to the interim guidelines. A 90-day comment period regarding the rules and guidelines ended July 16, 2021. Final guidelines should be forthcoming.

In Alabama, both Birmingham and Mobile have received half of their funds, and they have made plans for the use of those funds. An interim report on those plans (and those from other metropolitan cities in Alabama) are due to the Treasury Department by August 31, 2021. Counties and smaller municipalities (non-entitlement units) have been encouraged by their respective associations to wait on the Treasury Department’s final ruling before finalizing plans to spend the funds. A report on their plans must be sent to the Department by October 31, 2021. Because the Treasury’s interim ruling may change after July 16 and there is time to submit plans, it makes sense for smaller governments to wait. Worth noting: it's not too late for nonprofit leaders to act.