Several nonprofits across the county will soon expect six- and seven-figure checks from Tarrant County, after the commissioners court allocated a chunk of federal money to projects in Fort Worth and beyond.
Tarrant County will use $35.5 million in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to fund 35 projects administered by nonprofits.
The Commissioners Court approved an allocation Tuesday, July 26 to provide funding for 29 nonprofits and city governments within the county. The funding is part of the county’s Fiscal Recovery Funds Program, aiming to help nonprofits, local governments and residents recover from the pandemic.
“We wanted these dollars to help a lot of our nonprofits in the expansion of their infrastructure,” Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley said at the meeting. “But while we’re recommending $35.5 million, we have an anticipated match of about $26 million … and that’s what I want to applaud.”
The county prioritized projects that could offer matching funds through grants or funds from the organizations themselves.
The county will still need to finalize contracts with each of the organizations, then the agreement will come back to the commissioners for a final vote. County staff whittled down its final selections from 95 organizations submitting 131 applications, totaling $208 million in requested funds.
County staff chose projects based on a countywide needs assessment conducted in 2021. The county created a framework of four categories of funding based on the assessment: Improve public health, strengthen the community, prepare for the future and revitalize the economy.
Applicants had to demonstrate how each of their projects fit into one of those four categories to be chosen. The county also considered nonprofits’ ability to comply with robust reporting requirements to receive the federal funds.
Larger organizations, such as United Way of Tarrant County and The YMCA, received the bulk of the funds. AIDS Outreach Center and Taste Project, smaller organizations, also received funding from the county.
Here’s who received the money and what they’ll use it for:
United Way of Tarrant County
United Way of Tarrant County received a total of about $5.5 million for four projects. The allocation is a historic opportunity to invest in Tarrant County nonprofits, Leah King, president and CEO of United Way of Tarrant County, said.
United Way of Tarrant County received the most money of the 29 organizations to receive funding.
“To be able to bring us back to where we were before COVID, but hopefully in a number of instances to get us better than ever — that’s the greatest opportunity we have with these investments,” King said.
Two of the projects will focus on the 76104 ZIP code, which has the lowest life expectancy in Texas. A doula, or professional labor assistant, training program will place medical professionals in the community to reduce maternal mortality rates. The program will cost about $2 million and train 120 women and 30 hospital staffers to be doulas, according to the project application.
The program plans to support 144 women through healthy pregnancies and deliveries, with planned ongoing support for over 300 women.
The ZIP code needs more medical professionals, a 2004 study shows. There is a wide gulf dividing 76104 residents from consistent medical care, King said. Despite the city’s medical district falling within the zip code, access to healthcare is lacking in communities of color, King said.
“Access to healthcare is something that has been asked for nearly a generation,” King said. “There’s still barriers to the community being able to access the quality and type of care that gives them better health outcomes.”
The project is a part of United Way’s BRAVER 76104 initiative, aiming to address the root causes of poverty and racial inequity. The organization has a network of ambassadors within 76104, working to make connections with residents. United Way prioritized a doula training program through conversations with community ambassadors.
“Community leaders continue to echo the desire for improvements in access to healthcare,” King said. “As a community, we really can move the needle and make an impact.”
Using $1 million in federal funds from the county, the organization will invest in local businesses through mentorship and business coaching. The project aims to help residents get a minority business certification.
The certification allows businesses to potentially do more work with the city and county as a contractor or sub-contractor. The project also aims to connect business owners with capital through CDFI friendly Fort Worth and technical assistance to scale their business, King said.
The two remaining projects will be in partnership with other organizations and agencies.
United Way of Tarrant County is one of two United Ways across the country that’s also the Area Agency on Aging. The federal program distributes funds through the Older Americans Act to support retirees and the elderly.
The project hopes to prevent disease and illness through easing isolation in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association, the Women’s Center and Dementia Friendly Fort Worth. The funding will help United Way expand existing programs that encourage a more active lifestyle and expand call center staff and support groups to connect seniors with resources.
“We really want to target this population specifically to bring them back to the level of health they were prior to the COVID isolation period,” King said.
Tarrant County will also invest nearly $2 million into a gun violence prevention collaborative if the city of Fort Worth agrees to contribute $4 million to the project.The project was recommended for approval by city staff. The City Council will likely decide how to allocate its remaining federal funds in August.
The One Second Collaborative to Address and Prevent Teen Gun Violence would partner with 12 groups, including Fort Worth law enforcement, to develop a community needs assessment and plan to reduce gun violence county wide.
The program aims to engage youth in intervention programs and reduce recidivism in the criminal justice system, with the overall goal of a safer, healthier community.
“We have to look at it from both a high level and very, very granularly,” King said.
6 Stones Mission Network
While the bulk of organizations receiving funding are primarily based in Fort Worth, 6 Stones Mission Network will use its $2 million in funding to expand its mission in Northeast Tarrant County.
The organization aims to tackle poverty and its impacts by providing resources like school supplies, food and mentorship. The organization has occupied the same building since its inception in 2009.
The organization is looking to build a new place, near the JPS northeast clinic, to serve more residents with its food bank and other programs. Proximity to JPS’ low income clinic will give patients a one stop shop to access healthy foods, Trasa Cobern, 6 Stones chief development officer, said.
“This will increase the impact of that JPS clinic and allow the people who are patients there to get more services than just what they would get with the clinic alone,” Cobern said.
The organization has already raised $2.7 million to fund the project, but the county contribution will be the organization’s single largest donation.
“We’re looking at hopefully being able to be in our building next year because of this,” Cobern said. “That’s a great thing because there won’t be a large interruption in services for our neighbors.”
The infusion of federal funds into 35 projects split amongst 29 nonprofits will have long reaching impacts on the county, King said.
“I would suspect that decades from now,” she said, “whoever is living here will look back and say this was a game changer for our community.”
Rachel Behrndt is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at email@example.com or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.