There’s coronavirus relief funding for local nonprofits yet. Soldotna opened a new grant program last week for organizations that have been impacted by the pandemic and address homelessness prevention, mental health support, food security, youth services, transportation, or are involved in COVID-19 vaccination efforts.
“Early on when we got CARES funding back in 2020 we convened a working group," said Laura Rhyner, assistant to the city manager. She said the city met with a group that included people in the nonprofit realm to get input on what was the best way to spend the funds.
"And so we reconvened that group just a few months ago to get feedback — we had about $2 million left in the city’s CARES funds — on what were the remaining needs and what was the best way to spend that money in the way that was going to be the most impactful," she said.
Soldotna budgeted $750,000 for the program. Rhyner says the city is looking to award between $25,000 and $100,000 per recipient.
Though they’re Soldotna’s funds, the Alaska Community Foundation is administering the program.
"Last year, we spent a lot of time standing up these grant programs and administering them and realized that that’s not something the city usually does and it’s not usually something that’s in our wheelhouse," Rhyner said. "And so we reached out to ACF, recognizing that is what they do. They’re kind of experts in that programming and grant administration.”
Rhyner said the program will work not unlike the city’s housing relief program last fall, which was administered through the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation.
The city already awarded some relief funds to nonprofits and businesses in 2020. Nonprofits that already received funding from Soldotna are still eligible in this round. Rhyner says the city reached out to past recipients to let them know about this program.
Organizations do not need to be within Soldotna city limits, though they do need to serve Soldotna residents.
The deadline to apply is May 12. For guidelines and to send in your application, visit soldotna.org/cares.
Editor's note: Laura Rhyner is a member of the the KDLL Board of Directors.