doing good better American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed the ARRA into law, enacting a $787 billion stimulus plan in response to a growing recession
The primary objectives of the ARRA are to:
Preserve and create jobs and promote economic recovery
Assist those most impacted by the recession
Provide investments to increase economic efficiency by spurring technological advances in science and health
Invest in infrastructure that will provide long-term benefits
Stabilize state and local government budgets to minimize and avoid reductions in essential services and counterproductive federal and local tax increases
Where the Money ($787 billion) Goes…
Four Principles Guide the Distribution and Use
Spend funds quickly to save and create jobs. ARRA funds will be distributed quickly to states, local educational agencies and other entities in order to avert layoffs, create and save jobs and improve student achievement. States and LEAs in turn are urged to move rapidly to develop plans for using funds, consistent with the law’s reporting and accountability requirements, and to promptly begin spending funds to help drive the nation’s economic recovery.
Ensure transparency, reporting and accountability. To prevent fraud and abuse, support the most effective uses of ARRA funds, and accurately measure and track results, recipients must publicly report on how funds are used. Due to the unprecedented scope and importance of this investment, ARRA funds are subject to additional reporting requirements.
Invest one-time ARRA funds thoughtfully to minimize the “funding cliff.” ARRA represents a historic infusion of funds that is expected to be temporary. Depending on the program, these funds are available for only two to three years. These funds should be invested in ways that do not result in unsustainable continuing commitments after ARRA expires.
Improve student achievement through school improvement and reform. To close the achievement gap and help students from all backgrounds achieve high standards.
The Practical Realities
Expectations are sky-high around stimulus funding
HOWEVER, much of the funding is formula-based block grants to states or is otherwise restricted
So, what should one’s strategy be?
Partnerships are more important than ever
Workforce investment boards, housing authorities, community action agencies, etc. will receive a great deal of new funding that must be spent rapidly
Some of them, and all of us, should be looking for ways to partner to increase their capacity to meet their mandates
Funding guidance is not yet available in many cases
As a result, states have not yet determined how to spend certain funding (This also applies to local communities, counties, and non-profit agencies.)
Stay on top of state processes. Be patient. Be realistic. Be prepared to jump.
Everyone you want to partner with is being inundated with requests for partnerships
Take an asset-based approach. Tell your prospective partner what your program offers them, not what your program needs from them
Be prepared to meet high expectations
Any support you get will come with deliverables that you must be able to meet
Public agencies and non-profit recipients will go the easiest, highest-capacity, and most reliable route to meet the mandates of spending quickly and getting results
Make a fair assessment of what you can offer and deliver before approaching funders or partners
Position your agency as an opinion leader
Where there are listening sessions or comment periods, weigh in on spending priorities and systems
These windows are closing fast
Stimulus funding will set precedents
While characterized as a “one-time” funding, how funds are deployed, the innovations that come from it, and the principles and priorities behind it will remain for years to come in general policy and budgeting sessions.
The more you can learn, prepare and participate now, the better you will be able to take part in future opportunities
Additional Resources – Fed
www.recovery.gov – the White House recovery website dedicated to transparency and accountability. Monitors agency-level plans and investments by state among other things
www.grants.gov – recovery-related grant opportunities will be posted here
Be advised, however, that ARRA does authorize that agencies use alternative systems for accepting grant applications
Federal agency websites will also publish NOFAs directly and may be easier to read
Additional Resources – Fed
www.nationalservice.gov – the Corporation for National Service received enough ARRA funding to add an additional 10,000 AmeriCorps and 3,000 Vista slots
www.fbo.gov – “FedBizOpps” – federally-funded, recovery-related contract opportunities (for businesses and non-profits) are posted in a searchable database here
Additional Resources – Texas
www.recovery.gov – the White House Recovery page provides easy links to all state recovery websites. Check it weekly.
www.cbpp.org – the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities offers a state-by-state estimate of stimulus funding.
Additional Resources – Local
Block/formula grants and other funds will be distributed directly to county agencies, housing authorities, local school districts, etc. who will deploy these resources according to state and/or federally-approved plans.