AF Weekly Tip Sheet: COVID Policy & Advocacy (4/27/20)

Below is the latest America Forward “Tip Sheet,” a weekly update related to COVID-19 relief and recovery legislation.

Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act

Last week, the President signed into law the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, which provides $484 billion in emergency funding in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The legislation includes $310 billion to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) forgivable loan program for businesses and nonprofits with under 500 employees, which had exhausted its nearly $400 billion in initial funding. One fifth of the new funding for PPP will be set aside for smaller lenders, including small credit unions, community financial institutions, and minority depositories; this provision is an effort to support small business and nonprofits that do not have relationships with major banks. The bill also includes $50 billion for Economic Injury Disaster Loans, $10 billion for Economic Injury Disaster grants, and an additional $100 billion to support hospitals and expand COVID-19 testing. 

Eligible organizations that previously applied under the SBA programs but were not awarded funding are expected to be first in line to receive new funds. Given enormous demand for emergency funding, we encourage organizations that haven’t yet applied to submit applications as soon as possible. 

Federal Reserve-Backed Lending Programs for Nonprofits

Previously, we reported that the Main Street Lending program, which will make non-forgivable loans available to entities of all sizes, might exclude nonprofits. We sent a letter with several partners, urging the Fed to open the program to nonprofits. In response in part to our advocacy (along with many others) on this issue, earlier this week, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer placed a call to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell raising this concern. According to Senator Schumer’s statement following the call, Powell indicated “that the Fed is actively working on solutions, and nonprofits will very likely be included.” 

The Pandemic Response and Opportunity Through National Service Act

Last week, America Forward signed on in support of The Pandemic Response and Opportunity Through National Service Act. Led by Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) and several other Democratic Senators, the legislation would fund an exponential increase in AmeriCorps and national service positions “over a three-year response and recovery period, in part to meet the projected need for as many as 300,000 public health workers.” The bill “would also expand partnerships between AmeriCorps and federal health agencies and increase the AmeriCorps living allowance to ensure all Americans can step up to serve regardless of their financial circumstances.” Senators hope these proposals will be considered for inclusion in “COVID 4.” 

If you are interested in reading more about how national service can play a critical role in helping our communities recover and build resiliency following the COVID-19 crisis, check out this recent piece from Shirley Sagawa and Michael Brown in the Chronicle of Philanthropy. 

State Educational Agency (SEAs) and Local Educational Agency (LEAs) Funding through the Education Stabilization Fund

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced the application process for SEAs to apply for the SEA and LEA share of Education Stabilization Funds provided by the CARES Act. According to ED, once SEAs submit their application, ED expects to obligate funding within three business days. As a reminder, 90 percent of this funding will be allocated to LEAs via the Elementary and Secondary Education Act Title I formula, with 10 percent remaining with SEAs. More information can be found here. 

In discussions with education stakeholders, ED said that SEAs and LEAs may use these funds to reimburse costs incurred on or after March 13, 2020, although this provision is not mentioned in the documents released today by ED.

What’s Next

Congress is expected to turn to ongoing negotiations about the next COVID related relief and recovery bill–referred to as “COVID 4.” The general consensus is that the timeline for debate and potential passage of “COVID 4” is likely to be much longer than it was for the legislation passed this week, because negotiations will likely cover major topics including additional funding for states and cities, direct financial support for families, expansion of unemployment insurance, and hazard pay for frontline workers. In addition, negotiations on “COVID 4” are likely to cover additional funding for the Education Stabilization Fund and other key education and workforce topics. 


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