What You Need to Know About Public Policy This Week...
- News From the Council
- Talks Ongoing on Democrats' Legislative Priorities
- U.S. Department of Education Revamps Public Service Loan Forgiveness
- USDA's Equity Commission Nomination
- Happening in the States
Join the Council on November 4 for the virtual 2021 Public Policy Summit. Top government officials and national experts will convene with leaders in philanthropy to explore public policy issues affecting the sector. See our full schedule and register.
This week, Congressional Democrats continued their negotiations on a reconciliation package. Democratic leaders have said they want a broad agreement by the end of the week, with a vote before the end of the month. While members of Congress continue to finalize details, President Biden outlined a series of provisions that are in the latest package during his CNN town hall Thursday night. According to the Washington Post, the new package includes changes to the clean energy provisions, paid family leave, and the expanded Child Tax Credit, but several other provisions are likely cut. In addition, there will be changes to the package pay-fors. However, until a final package and agreement are announced, the details may continue to change.
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program cancels student loans after 10 years of public service. The Department has released a new fact sheet on temporary expansions to the PSLF program intended to provide nonprofit employees with greater and easier access to forgiveness. These new provisions will offer a time-limited waiver so that student borrowers can count payments from all federal loan programs or repayment plans toward forgiveness. The new changes reportedly will reduce student debt by $1.74 billion in the near term. The PSLF Help Tool is available to help borrowers determine their eligibility. Eligible not-for-profit organizations include:
- an organization that is tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and
- an organization that is not tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, but that provides a qualifying service.
The Department of Agriculture is soliciting nominations for membership on their Equity Commission and the Subcommittee on Agriculture. Nominations are open to the public and any organization may nominate qualified individuals. Both bodies seek to reflect diversity in demographics, regions of the country, background, and experience and expertise. The deadline for nominations is October 27, 2021. For those wishing for more information or clarifications about applications, Dr. DeWayne L. Goldmon, Senior Advisory for Racial Equity, and the Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement are hosting two information sessions on October 25 about this critical opportunity:
Funders are encouraged to share this solicitation with their relevant grantees, partners, and stakeholders.
Exclusive from our colleagues at the National Council of Nonprofits.
Investing ARPA Funds: Governments Seek Public Input, Transparency
Several local governments are taking a very public approach to identifying community-based needs as they decide how to spend resources allocated to them under ARPA’s Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds. Shortly after ARPA funds were made available, the City of Alexandria, Virginia took a transparent approach to decision making by inviting residents, nonprofits, and businesses to identify their priorities for the use of the funds by ranking a list of potential programs and projects. The result was an Allocation Plan designed to ensure a balanced set of goals established from this public input: businesses thrive, everyone has access to the basics, recovery lifts everyone, and the City makes long-term investments for the future. New Orleans, Louisiana established a 28-member task force of community and business leaders to provide recommendations. Also in Louisiana, Shreveport’s Mayor convened six listening sessions to collect resident feedback on issues like infrastructure and technology, and distributed a survey on funding priorities. Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott established the Mayor’s Office of Recovery Programs to administer ARPA funding on behalf of the City via an application process. The office held a webinar, City of Baltimore Nonprofit ARPA Application Training, in advance of the application portal’s availability to nonprofits this month. Cook County, Illinois, is seeking community input to guide its spending of $1 billion in ARPA funds and will be holding Virtual Town Halls throughout October. Forefront, the state association of nonprofits in Illinois, is asking nonprofits to share these opportunities to engage with the ARPA process with partners, specifically those working in suburban Cook County.
Nonprofit Job Vacancies Crisis
There is clearly a problem filling jobs in the nonprofit sector, but the consequences, including the inability to provide services on which people rely, are not fully appreciated by policymakers and the public. Nonprofits across the country are reporting staffing shortages and an inability to retain or attract qualified workers to provide essential services to their communities. Unlike for-profit employers, nonprofits often do not have the flexibility to increase wages because of funding constraints like fixed government grants and contracts and donations that do not cover the full costs of services. The negative consequences of lost talent are directly felt by the communities that nonprofits serve. Michael Weekes, President & CEO of Providers’ Council, a state association of nonprofits in Massachusetts, recently wrote, “While it remains Help Wanted in many fields, it really is Help Needed for community-based human services organizations in Massachusetts and elsewhere. The health and well-being of residents across the United States depends on finding and developing talented staff to provide essential care to all those in need.” Read more in Not simply Help Wanted – but Help Needed. Foundations can help quantify the problem of nonprofit job vacancies by encouraging their grantees to complete this quick Survey on Nonprofit Workforce Shortage.