Social services apply for $ 26 million federal funding in New London

Dec. 26 – NEW LONDON – With $ 26.2 million in federal pandemic aid flowing to the city, local social service organizations continue to vie for a chance to fund initiatives that otherwise may not be achievable.

The city has received a dozen new funding requests totaling nearly $ 1 million – everything from $ 127,250 for an idea for a New London Community Meal Center mobile lunch truck to a $ 156,000 application dated Human Services Department to give seniors free rides with the new NL Smart. the city to allow bus travel.

The new proposals came after the city council voted in October to approve the first $ 13.1 million in funding and a major draft budget to use all federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. Money in New London is spread across a variety of categories to fund everything from community police efforts and public works to economic development initiatives and park improvements.

Jeanne Milstein, director of human services, said a human services committee set up to select grant recipients was working with $ 1.4 million in funding in the first year, trying to prioritize the numerous ideas, many of them come from non-profit organizations.

Milstein said her committee prioritizes mental health, housing, food and immigration. The committee received 22 ideas, of which 12 organizations were asked to submit formal proposals and detailed budgets by December 27th.

“We will then decide as a body who we recommend to the council for funding,” she said. “Not all organizations may receive funding at this point.”

The committee consists of Milstein; City Council President Efrain Dominguez; Alliance for Living Director of Housing Frank Silva; All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church Pastor Carolyn Paterno; The Organizational Director of Hearing Youth Voices Maya Sheppard; former Alderman Curtis Goodwin and Zakkyya Williams of Lawrence + Memorial Hospital.

One of the criteria for personnel development is that representatives of organizations that receive funding meet for monthly workshops. Milstein said there needs to be accountability and assurances that funds will be used with maximum effectiveness.

The story goes on

The latest proposals presented to the city include a US $ 250,000 application from Safe Futures to support the construction of the Center for Safe Futures, a family justice center with full services under one roof for victims of domestic violence. Gerald King of 010 Media LLC has applied for $ 300,000 for an after-school program to support students’ social, emotional, and mental health needs through the creation of student-led podcasts. Thames River Heritage Park has applied for $ 25,000 to cover the running costs of the newly renovated water taxi.

Finance Director David McBride said the city’s existing budget for ARPA funds is subject to change and some of the contracts and agreements have yet to be submitted to the city council for final approval.

However, McBride said funding requests had already exceeded the grand total of $ 26.2 million by mid-December.

For Maryann Martinez, Executive Director of the New London Community Meal Center, her group’s funding application would help kickstart an idea to reach more people who may not have the resources to reach the center on Montauk Avenue.

She said the people who eat meals at the center may not fully represent the population in need, people without the means of transportation, or single mothers without the means. She said the center plans to work with local partners to figure out where the food cart could best be used and the idea could get to nearby cities.

“Many have said that if they didn’t have a hard time getting to Montauk Avenue once a day, let alone twice a day, they’d eat more here,” she said. “Wouldn’t it be great if we went to them instead?”

Martinez also came up with the idea of ​​developing a “Nourishing Networks New London”, in which she envisions a collaboration between charities, social workers, gardeners and volunteers to tackle the root causes of hunger.

The city council is expected to take up some of the suggestions in future sessions. Other social service organizations looking for funding include The Arc Eastern Connecticut, New London Food Coalition, and Thames Valley Council for Community Action.

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London Herald