Nonprofit requests far outstrip budget for grant program

by Steven Felschundneff |

The Claremont City Council authorized the city’s annual grant funds for local charitable organizations last week, although most nonprofits received a fraction of what they had requested.

By a unanimous 4-0 vote, with one absent, the council authorized $146,650 be allocated to the Community Based Organization Grant Program for the 2024 calendar year.

A total of 22 agencies submitted 25 applications for general services money totaling $231,000, well over the $86,650 budgeted. The city had allocated $60,000 for homeless services but only received six applications from five agencies for a total of $45,000, originally leaving $15,000 on the table.

The Community and Human Services Commission met earlier this month to discuss the applications and make recommendations on how to allocate the limited funding. During its discussions the commission decided to fund all applications at amounts lower than requested rather than to offer nothing to some of the organizations.

To balance out the proposals and avoid leaving the $15,000 unclaimed, the commission elected to move grant applications by the Newcomer’s Access Center and Service Center for Independent Life out of general services and into the homeless services because they offer programs for the unhoused.

After shuffling the applications, that left 20 organizations who requested $208,000 in general services grants, and increased to seven the agencies now requesting $73,000 in homeless funding.

“Proposals were evaluated based on criteria that included the number of Claremont residents or students served, how the proposed programs aligned with City Council priorities, and how well the program fit the current needs of the community,” read a staff report from Michelle Castillo, a city management analyst. “While some of the recommended programs served a large group of local residents or students, other programs served relatively few, but were considered to be deeply impactful for those recipients.”

The list of general services programs includes many nonprofits Claremonters depend on, such as Claremont Meals on Wheels, AgingNext, Claremont Educational Foundation, Claremont Heritage, and Claremont After Schools Program.

Beatrice Casagran, the lone speaker during public comment, thanked the council for the $4,078 it gave to her independent theater company, Ophelia’s Jump Productions.

The Community Based Organization Grant Program was established by the City Council in 1989 and assigned to the commission to “review and allocate funds annually to nonprofits serving the Claremont community,” according to the staff report. It was initially funded through a combination of Community Development Block Grants and general fund monies, but the block grant portion was dropped in 1993 due to reporting requirements. Apparently the $86,650 in general services grants has not changed in many years even as inflation has eaten into its impact.

The grant program was axed in 2019 when the city faced a large budget deficit, but was brought back in 2022, when it elected to fund it through its share of the American Recue Plan Act.

City Manager Adam Pirrie confirmed the grant amount had not changed in years but said that $146,650 was the amount budgeted for this year. He added that it might be a good idea to consider allocating more money to the grants when the city prepares its budget next year.


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