To help the country recover from COVID-19, the American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) has created a substantial opportunity for communities to battle the direct impacts of the pandemic.
Through ARPA, the federal government declared $350 billion for cities, counties, states, and tribes to address the disproportionate impact of COVID. Governments and non-profits have an opportunity to change their communities with autonomy and flexibility.
It Starts Now!
The process of identifying programs for investment is underway now. Initial Recovery Plans were due to the US Treasury on August 31.
To identify programs to fund, governments have until December 31, 2024, and all funds must either be distributed or returned by the end of 2026. Funds can be transferred for use by non-profit and private sector organizations. In addition, cities, counties, states, and tribes must lead the charge to find the programs that best contribute to a solid and equitable recovery while meeting eligibility and reporting requirements.
If You’re a Local Jurisdiction Building an ARPA Plan, Click Here.
If You’re a Non-Profit or Community Action Agency Creating a Reporting System for ARPA, Click Here.
Local Jurisdictions – Building an ARPA Strategic Plan
A Guiding Structure to Achieve Purposeful Outcomes
The bottom line when it comes down to receiving and using ARPA funds – you need a solid plan and reporting system in place. And, with billions of dollars being infused into your city, county, state, or tribe, you need to grasp onto this opportunity!
Strategic planning and agile management driven by a clear strategic direction, input from your community, and a cascaded plan you can report on are how you’ll see success with these funds.
Why You Need a Clear Strategic Direction First
COVID’s negative impact on longevity and health has been tragic. Our local and regional governments have been on the front line, implementing policies and coordinating vaccinations to help our communities navigate this health emergency.
Aligning to the Needs in Your Community
A survey is a great way to understand what your community’s sentiment and need are. But successful ARPA planning and implementation requires more. Here’s why:
Big Issues + Focused Impact = A Need for Community Engagement
When issues are big enough to impact large populations within our communities, multiple stakeholder groups may exist that are also interested in finding solutions; they need to be on board!
For example, local and regional organizations often deliver social and economic impact solutions in ways the government sometimes cannot. Churches, schools, and neighborhood centers often witness individual needs more closely than most and may even be the channels used to deliver ARPA programs, services, or initiatives. Governments in the same jurisdiction often deal with challenges that have common root causes. So don’t be afraid to allocate funds to other organizations that might have a different reach than yours! We’re all in this together!
Collaboration Creates Stronger Communities
It is essential to the ultimate success of community initiatives to recognize the work of others. Organizations with common goals that also meet ARPA requirements can be critical partners in achieving success.
Aligning your efforts with like-missioned organizations creates opportunities to share resources, coordinate delivery, and have an impact in ways you wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. As you engage your community, think about organizations you can partner with to stretch the impact of your funding.
The Standards for Reporting
While the US Treasury has clearly outlined ARPA reporting guidelines, here are our additional considerations (to include critical deadlines) that, if created, could help simplify the gathering and tracking of information required:
- Expenditure reports must be submitted quarterly.
- If the governmental entity has a population of more than 250,000, Recovery Plan Performance Reports must be submitted annually.
- Funds not allocated by December 31, 2024, must be returned to the US Treasury. Funds not spent by December 31, 2026, will have to be returned as well.
- Any organization that applies for ARPA funds should identify its internal process for capturing expenditures from the beginning.
- Staying up to date on program expenditures by month may help ensure quarterly reports are a matter of process and do not require any backtracking across multiple months. In doing so, deadlines are met, and reports are posted to the public in a predictable and reliable cadence.
- Ideally, governments distributing these funds have a system established early on that streamlines the reporting requirements.
- Developing a reporting portal for all ARPA programs to enter data into may prove cost-effective over time. It may assist in providing the public with transparent insight into ARPA fund management as well.
How OnStrategy Supports Community Engagement, Planning & Reporting
We’ve worked with local jurisdictions and governments around the globe on community engagement, planning, and reporting! Just go check out.
While ARPA planning is a little different, we’re poised and ready to help your organization with any of the following:
- Community Engagement and Stakeholder Input> – We can lead community and stakeholder input sessions to identify areas of need or focus for ARPA response.
- ARPA Strategic Planning & Deployment – We can help your organization create a strategic plan to use your funds based on community input sessions and need. We’ll structure the program to the reporting requirements set by the federal government.
- ARPA Reporting – Use our app to create an automated reporting system to collect and report your results to the federal government.
- Citizen Engagement – Create public-facing dashboards that share your results and engage the community.
Need help? Ready to get started? Contact us below or give us a call at 775.747.7407!
Non-Profits & Community Action Agencies — Creating a Reporting System for ARPA Funding
Strategic Positioning for Your Organization
To support an immediate response, bring back jobs, and lay the groundwork for a solid and equitable recovery, ARPA funding can also be re-distributed from local governments to non-profit and public sector organizations in their jurisdictions.
There are a few initial considerations for organizations to review to determine if ARPA funding would be a good fit:
- Review local ARPA Priorities.
Each city, state, county, and tribe that applied for ARPA funds has also submitted a Recovery Plan to the US Treasury. Each quarter they will also have to submit expenditure reports to identify how funding is being allocated and spent. Knowing what these priorities and investments are will help organizations determine if their programs, initiatives, or services would benefit.
- Review eligible expenditure categories.
While local governments have broad discretion of programs to fund, the US Treasury has defined expenditure categories, and ARPA-funded programs must fall under at least one. These include supporting public health expenditures, addressing negative economic impacts, providing premium pay for essential workers, or investing in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure. More information on eligible uses can be found online through ARPA support documentation made available by the US Treasury.
- Ensure equitable outcomes are woven into the program in every possible way
Throughout all categories, consideration is weighted when outcomes are focused on helping families and communities that the pandemic has hit hardest. Thus, programs that quantify the benefit to disproportionately impacted communities will be fulfilling the intent of equitable recovery under ARPA.
Following ARPA Reporting and Local Requirements
If your organization receives ARPA-associated funding, there are quarterly and annual reports that will be required of your organization. It’s best to confirm early how, when, and what types of information your organization will need to provide.
Details of data to report could vary depending on the ARPA eligibility category. However, basic information that could be required reporting include these types of examples:
- Projects: Includes eligible expenditure category, project description (50-250 words).
- Expenditures: Reporting upon current period obligation, cumulative obligation, current period expenditure, and cumulative expenditure.
- Project status: Not started, completed < 50%, completed> 50%, completed.
- Project demographic distribution: Criteria to identify target recipients for services and if the pandemic-related recession has disproportionately impacted the population.
- Programmatic data: Number of people served, population served within Census Tract Areas of lower-income levels, number of people employed, number of people trained, etc.
ARPA is a fantastic opportunity, and having a defined process for reporting will help an organization focus on the right place. If interested, all US Treasury reporting guidelines can be found here , including a full explanation of eligible expenditure categories.
How OnStrategy Can Support that Reporting Requirement
We’re currently working with several community action agencies to help implement and report on the process of their ARPA strategic plans. Using the OnStrategy Application, we can:
- Create custom reports that can be shared with the federal government to report on the progress and use of your funds.
- Distribute the reporting effort across your team to reduce the burden of data analysis and reporting.
- Give your team a dashboard and tool to manage your plan’s progress to see what needs your attention.
- Remove the headache of reporting!
Ready to get started? Contact us below or give us a call at 775.747.7407!