Fayetteville council reimburses more local nonprofits using ARPA funds

Volunteers work at Tri Cycle Farms for Make a Difference Day in May 2022 at the nonprofit farm in Fayetteville. (Courtesy Tri Cycle Farms)

FAYETTEVILLE — The City Council has agreed to use another round of the city’s $17.9 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to provide relief to a group of local nonprofits.

Council members on Tuesday voted 7-0 to move over $250,000 in ARPA money to help reimburse four nonprofits that lost revenue during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Councilmember Mark Kinion was in virtual attendance at the beginning of Tuesday’s meeting, but left before the ARPA funding vote was taken.

As part of the application process, nonprofits must give detailed accounts of financial hardships that are directly related to the pandemic. Costs eligible for reimbursement could be due to increased demand for services, a change in operational needs, a decline in donation or fundraising revenue or challenges covering payroll, rent or other operating expenses.

Tri Cycle Farms was approved for a reimbursement of $66,391.61. The volunteer-based urban community farm provides meals to those in need and has stepped up its services since the pandemic began. Officials said the group lost thousands of dollars in revenue when fundraising events were cancelled and donations dipped below expectations over the last two years. A new greenhouse the group planned to complete in 2020 was also put on hold which would’ve yielded even more revenue.

Rockin’ Baker will receive a reimbursement of $40,988.86. The nonprofit bakery hires and trains people who have developmental disabilities that impact their ability to find employment. The group said the pandemic led to a significant drop in its wholesale accounts and donation program which caused it to pause its own donations to local food banks and schools. Before that, the organization had provided over 140,000 fresh-made rolls to the community each week.

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church was approved for a $40,428.20 reimbursement. Officials said the church has been instrumental in the formation of several impactful ministries like Cooperative Emergency Outreach, Canopy NWA, the Little Free Pantry movement and Queer Camp. During the pandemic, the church hired a outreach coordinator to support the local Marshallese community. The move led to an increase in facility use over the last two years, but those expenses, combined with revenue losses, led the group to apply for reimbursement funds.

The Fayetteville Housing Authority’s development group received the largest amount in reimbursement funds at $104,936.62. The nonprofit provides affordable housing to low-income residents in Northwest Arkansas. The group said the pandemic caused a decrease in revenue that restricted funds available for needed renovations, maintenance and preparation of vacant units. Emergency housing and food distributions, along with basic operations were also affected due to office closures, staffing shortages and increased safety precautions.

Each group’s applications are included in the council’s agenda packet for the funding resolution (available here).

Tuesday’s measure was the second round of reimbursements for local nonprofits. The council earlier this month moved nearly $236,000 in ARPA funds to six nonprofits and approved spending up to $1.76 million in ARPA money on childcare assistance and workforce training programs.

Paul Becker, the city’s chief financial officer, said checks for each group will likely be written in the next two weeks, and that all of the reimbursements will be audited per federal guidelines.