The Biden administration announced on October 25 the organizations it has selected to administer millions in grant funding for non-profit organizations.
by Kristine Christlieb | November 1, 2023
The Biden administration announced on October 25 the organizations it has selected to administer millions in grant funding for non-profit organizations. The funding is part of Biden’s Investing in America agenda. It’s coming out of the Department of Energy (DOE) which announced selectees for its $45 million Renew America’s Nonprofits program.
According to the DOE website, the funds aim “to help nonprofits make high-impact energy efficiency improvements that will create cleaner, healthier community spaces, while generating sustainable savings so that critical funds can be redirected toward mission-driven work.”
The announcement comes amid rising concerns over spawning government- and privately-funded non-profits behaving in a partisan manner to influence elections.
Electioneering by charities—“501(c)(3)s” in the trade—was forbidden, to begin with. But that has not stopped liberal Big Philanthropy from using charitable organizations for activities that dance along that legal line…
U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm praised the program saying it will bring “the nation closer to President Biden’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”
Three Layers of Administration
For all practical purposes, administration of the $45 million in grant funding has been outsourced to the announced “Prime Selectee” or “Prime Recipient” nonprofits.
Alaska Heat Smart, Juneau, AK
Action, Santa Cruz, CA
America Regional Council Community Services, Kansas City, MO
Medici Road, Washington, D.C.
Southface Westchester, Mount Kisco, NY
Tierra Del Sol Housing Corporation, Las Cruces, NM
University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO
University of Detroit Mercy, Detroit, MI
The nine Prime Recipients are responsible for collaborating with 38 partner organizations. While the prime recipients and the subrecipients must all be 501(c)3 organizations, they can partner with for-profit entities. The partners contract to provide technical assistance, program management, community engagement strategies and other services.
The Prime Recipients, working with these advising partners, will develop a portfolio of subrecipients who will receive funding for nonprofit buildings across the country. Thus, two layers of bureaucratic expense stand between the subrecipients and the funding.
Prime Recipients are now entering the award phase with final funding recommendations for approximately 300 projects being handed down in June 2024. No project can exceed $200,000.
The program’s priorities are emergency response services, the homeless, refugees, victims of domestic violence, families suffering with food insecurity, and places of worship.
University of Detroit Mercy spokesperson Gary Erwin had few details to share with Trust But Verify. Even though the DOE named the Prime Recipients on Wednesday, Detroit Mercy has not yet released any information to the press.
Erwin said individuals involved in the program are meeting this week to discuss how to proceed. He wouldn’t reveal which department is responsible for the program, indicating there were regulatory complexities that needed to be worked out first.
The two universities named as Prime Recipients are probably the most well-prepared to handle the subrecipient recommendations. The others will likely welcome the assistance of technical advisors.
In discussing the disadvantages of government grants, Arizona State University’s Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation pointed out: “Bureaucracy and complex systems can hinder Social Services organizations’ ability to apply, receive and spend government funds as intended.”
Growing Nonprofit Dependence on Government
ASU’s Lodestar Center also warned nonprofits about becoming reliant on notoriously unreliable government funding. “When the government becomes the primary source of revenue for Social Service nonprofit organizations, any fluctuations in that funding can have an impact on the ability of the organizations to serve those in need,” it wrote in a blog post.
Since these DOE funds are for building improvement and not for operating expenses, the danger of operational disruption is less present. Instead, the problem is on the taxpayer side. Will these organizations have the expertise and the organizational integrity to use taxpayer dollars for their intended use.
Medici Road, one of the Prime Recipients, is focused on poverty. Its mission is “to reduce poverty by creating education, housing, and public health solution that uproot systemic racial inequities.” It has four service centers, including one for “racial equity and inclusion.” An organization at the intersection of left-leaning politics and government spending does not engender confidence it can be neutral in the projects it selects for funding.
One thing is sure, the trauma bond between government and nonprofits is growing. As it stands, experts say at least 30 percent of nonprofit revenue comes from federal government spending.
This is a developing story. Trust But Verify will check back in June and see where the dollars are landing.
--Elections have consequences. One example of why election integrity is vital to our republic.
Kristine Christlieb volunteers for Michigan Fair Elections and serves on MFE's communications team. She publishes Trust but Verify on Substack https://trustbutverifyreport.substack.com/p/npo-headline-103123?utm_source=post-email-title&publication_id=1705233&post_id=138446212&utm_campaign=email-post-title&isFreemail=true&r=1vqbfy&utm_medium=email
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