Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Nonprofit Stimulus Bill

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that the Senate Appropriations Committee approved ortions of an economic-stimulus package that includes help specifically for nonprofit organizations.  The Appropriation Committee's press release can be found here.  According to the COP articlel, the bill includes:

  • $2.1-billion for Head Start and Early Head Start, the early-education programs.
  • $2-billion for Child Care and Development Block Grants, which help states provide child-care services to low-income families.
  • $400-million for Social Services Block Grants, to help states provide services to unemployed and low-income people.
  • $200-million to AmeriCorps, the national-service program, to create positions to help nonprofit groups hit by increased need and shrinking donations.
  • 150-million for food banks.
  • Money for YouthBuild USA, a nonprofit group in Somerville, Mass., which trains low-income young people to do construction work. (The exact amount is not listed, but the House version of the bill proposes $50-million.)

These are all worthy causes and if I were in Congress I would vote for the provisions.  But I have this nagging feeling that none of the measures above or any other that I have heard of thus far address systemic problems faced by nonprofits -- such as lack of regulatory oversight or the inability to predict revenues from year to year.  The stimulus bill seems to be an effort to simply pour more money into a system that needs overhauling (whether in the for profit or nonprofit world).  Perhaps there will be more systemic type measures when the bill is finally released -- or, as with the TARP appropriations, the Congress will use the opportunity to impose even the most modest of fundamental changes while its throwing buckets of money on the raging fire.

dkj 

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