ARPA: New Bedford Supporting the Arts and Culture Sector

With the goal of helping artists and arts and culture organizations emerge stronger from the pandemic than they were before, the Mayor Jon Mitchell and the city of New Bedford allocated over $1.1 million of its ARPA funds three separate initiatives: Wicked Cool Places, Art is Everywhere, and ARTnet.

Wicked Cool Places and Art is Everywhere are pre-existing programs designed to build the arts and culture sector in New Bedford through direct grants to artists and organizations, prioritizes creative placemaking and place-keeping projects and arts-based economic development projects that advance diversity. Unique to the ARPA-supported funding rounds, these programs will also prioritize projects that provide creative arts-based solutions to pandemic-related challenges, such as projects that enhance the use of outdoor spaces.

ARTnet—a new initiative by NBCreative—is an artist recovery and training network, providing economic and professional support for artists to create a sustainable business in a post-COVID economy. The goal of ARTnet is to help artists recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic by providing financial support, business planning support, training workshops, and access to a network of creative entrepreneur peers. NBCreative plans to support 100 artists over the life of the grant.

ARPA: New Bedford Expanding Access to High Quality Child Care

Even before the pandemic, New Bedford faced a shortage of childcare enrollment slots, particularly in high-quality facilities. In order to increase the supply of high-quality early learning, childcare, and out-of-school time care opportunities in New Bedford, Mayor Jon Mitchell released an RFP for capital costs associated with new or expanded childcare and educational facilities. Ultimately, NorthStar Learning Centers was awarded $2 million to build a new childcare facility, leverages an additional $7 million of funds raised in support of the project.

NorthStar Learning Centers, Inc. is a people-of-color-led nonprofit multi-service organization born out of the civil rights movement in New Bedford in 1974. NorthStar serves some of our city’s highest-need children and families. All but a very small number of the young children they serve are funded by state vouchers for family economic and/or child safety reasons. When completed, it will expand NorthStar’s early childhood education and care capacity will increase from 79 children to 134 children; an increase of 70%. In addition to providing childcare, NorthStar will offer a regular schedule of Parenting Education and support programs with a focus on young children

ARPA: La Mesa CA, Invests in Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs

La Mesa City Councilmember Colin Parent and the City Council allocated over $800,000 in American Rescue Plan dollars to support existing small business’ recovery and help entrepreneurs and new startups open storefronts in the city. Participants in the La Mesa Entrepreneurship Accelerator Program (LEAP) are eligible to receive up to $20,000 in grants as well as personalized start-up training programs. With storefronts emptied after the pandemic, the LEAP program will support local entrepreneurs and help improve economic prosperity within the community. 

La Mesa is also using ARPA funds for the recently released Façade and Property Improvement Grant Program. The two-year pilot program will support La Mesa businesses in completing exterior improvements to business-use properties. Participants are eligible for up to $25,000 in grants to use for existing property improvements such as adding a permanent awning, outdoor patio, or mural.

ARPA: Phoenix AZ, Resilient Food System Providing Healthy Meals for Families

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego has utilized American Rescue Plan funds to create one of the city’s most impactful programs, Feed Phoenix Food Program. The funding allocation through the Phoenix Resilient Food System is distributed to a series of related programs with the goal of developing more sustainable food options for Phoenix residents. This effort includes funding that will provide resources to local and neighborhood food banks, food kitchens, and investments to address food deserts and help support existing and new businesses providing healthy food to the community. The impact has been significant, including:

  • Collectively the various programs delivered over 264,000 meals
  • Funding to community food pantries has helped serve nearly 2 million pounds of food to 169,000 individuals and families.
  • The various programs have created 17 jobs and 7 Urban Agriculture Fellowship
  • Backyard Food Production Pilot installed 53 garden systems, helping develop gardens and train residents located in food deserts.

ARPA: Improving Digital Equity in Underinvested Communities

Mayor Kate Gallego and the City of Phoenix prioritized increasing internet access to students and families during the height of the pandemic. Gallego leveraged American Rescue Plan funds to mobilize community partnerships to distribute more than 12,000 laptops to 15 school districts in underserved areas, particularly in public housing communities. Additionally, the city provided 1,600 tablets and Wi-Fi connectivity to families and seniors to help with at-home learning and telemedicine access. This effort was recognized by the National Civic League, earning Phoenix an All America-Cities Award 2022.

“COVID-19 caused a profound shift in traditional learning. As students transitioned to an online learning environment, we knew too many families were missing the basic tools needed to navigate this new way of learning,” said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. “City staff put forth a tremendous effort to close this digital divide, especially for our most vulnerable kids. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, and equally proud the City of Phoenix has been honored with the All-America City Award for the sixth time.”

ARPA: Stamford CT, Supports Small Businesses Impacted by the Pandemic

Stamford Mayor Caroline Simmons earned unanimous support from the Board of Finance to use $1.5 million of the city’s American Rescue Plan Act money to create a grant program for small businesses that have taken a financial hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. The program is expected to help around 200 small businesses with grants of up to $7,500 to help with payroll, commercial lease or mortgage payments, and other critical expenses. Simmons hopes to announce grant recipients in May of 2023.

ARPA: Scranton PA, Creates Community Wellness Programs and Invests in Community Programs

Scranton received $68.7 million in ARPA funds, and Mayor Paige Cognetti work to ensure the funding is invested to give people access to resources, rebuild the infrastructure systems that impact their everyday lives, and foster equitable wealth generation that targets the needs of Scranton residents. As of February 2023, Scranton awarded $1 million in grants to nearly 50 nonprofit organizations in need of financial recovery. Another $950,000 helped the support and creation of community wellness programs, including projects focused on behavioral health and mental wellness, drug overdose  prevention, and violence prevention. 

“Supporting a city that only recently shed its status as a financially distressed municipality is no easy  task,” Mayor Cognetti said. “This once-in-a-lifetime ARPA funding is helping us to accelerate progress and promote the people and organizations that make Scranton a wonderful place to live and  work.” 

ARPA: Support for Hartford’s Library Branches

Mayor Luke Bronin and the City of Hartford are allocating $10.5 million to its public library system, in funds made available through the revenue replacement provisions of the ARPA. The city will relocate a public library branch to a new site within the Swift Factory, a community and entrepreneurial center in Hartford. The new space will be state-of-the-art, comprising over two stories and including a new job search center. The library is expected to revitalize the community and spur economic development. Additionally, the city will also renovate an additional branch to incorporate the nearby historic Northwest Jones School building. By uniting the two buildings, the expanded branch library will be able to provide more services to residents.

ARP: Hartford expand Reentry Welcome Center to Support Individuals Returning to Society After Incarceration

Mayor Luke Bronin and the City of Hartford utilized $900,000 in ARPA grant funding to expand and open a new location for their Reentry Welcome Center, which supports individuals returning to society after incarceration in their transition back into community life. The Reentry Welcome Center, a collaboration between the city and Community Partners in Action, first opened in 2018 at City Hall and has assisted more than 1,000 people. With the new location, which includes community meeting space and a computer lab, the Reentry Welcome Center will have the capacity to help even more people — including those on probation and parole — and add additional programming for pre-release services.

ARP: HartLift Program Supports in New Small Businesses

Hartford, CT Mayor Luke Bronin partnered with the Hartford Chamber of Commerce created the “Hart Lift” Program to support the activation of storefronts left vacant during the COVID-19 pandemic.  With the assistance of American Rescue Plan funding, this $6 million program provides funding available for retail spaces both in downtown and on neighborhood commercial corridors. Property owners with vacant storefronts are eligible for grants up to $150,000 with matching landlord/tenant investments. Grants can be used for interior and exterior buildout costs for new businesses opening in new or existing ground floor retail spaces. To date, there have been sixty recipient businesses in neighborhoods across the city.