Priorities ignored in awarding Covid grants to certain SC nonprofits?

By RICK BRUNDRETT

Recently announcing that 686 nonprofits in South Carolina would receive a total of $ 25 million in federal coronavirus grants, state officials said the recipients had received a “due diligence review” successful ”by a panel created by law.

A spokesperson for the Department of State Administration (SCDOA) told The Nerve last week in a written response that priority is given to organizations that provide services in one or more of the following categories:

  • Food aid, including prepared meals;
  • Rent or mortgage assistance;
  • Assistance to public services;
  • Mental health counseling;
  • Health services;
  • Criminal domestic violence and children’s rights advocacy services;
  • Artistic and cultural objects or activities.

But in a review of the grant recipient listing Provided by the SCDOA, The Nerve has found selected organizations whose primary missions are not aimed at helping Southern Carolinians obtain food, pay their utility bills or receive medical services, or assist victims domestic violence and child abuse.

Recipients included, for example, the following private fundraising branches of three public technical colleges, with grant amounts awarded in brackets: Denmark Technical College Foundation ($ 2,500), Greenville Tech Foundation ($ 50,000) and Orangeburg -Calhoun Technical College Foundation ($ 50,000).

In contrast, at its December 10 meeting, a grant review committee was made up of representatives from seven state agencies (Alcohol and Other Addiction Services, Archives and History, Arts Commission, Consumers, Health Mental, Social Services and State Housing Funding and Development Authority) rejected an application by an unidentified nonprofit that provides “grants to students at Coastal Carolina University,” according to minutes from the meeting.

“Did not provide priority services,” the minutes noted. “The harm due to Covid-19 has not been able to organize fundraisers. “

In a written response to The Nerve on Thursday, SCDOA spokeswoman Kelly Coakley said foundations at Denmark Technical, Greenville Tech and Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College had indicated that they were providing food, rent, utilities or “services” or “assistance”, although it has not done so. I’m not responding to The Nerve’s follow-up request for more details.

Representatives from the three foundations did not respond to written requests for comment from The Nerve this week.

Rejected applications

Coronavirus Assistance, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) grants to nonprofits ranged from $ 2,500 to $ 50,000 under an aid program that state lawmakers established in September by allocating the remaining approximately $ 700 million of the $ 1.9 billion in federal relief funds given to South Carolina.

Nonprofits submitted a total of 1,590 requests asking for a collective $ 75.9 million, SCDOA spokeswoman Megan Moore said in a written response last week to The Nerve. This means that 904 requests, or more than half of the total, were rejected.

“In many cases, the documentation provided by a claimant did not support the amount requested,” Moore said.

The grant review committee, at its December 10 meeting, rejected at least four applications identified only as “The entity is affiliated with a state agency,” according to the records. Moore denied The Nerve’s request regarding the identity of these organizations, saying it “would not be appropriate to release this information until we have had the opportunity to notify all applicants who will not receive subsidy “.

CARES grants are meant to be used for “reimbursement of eligible expenses” incurred between March 1 and December 1, according to information on the SCDOA website. This includes expenses related to responding to the “COVID-19 public health emergency” and any resulting “loss of income”.

To be eligible for a grant, applicants must be nonprofits designated by the Internal Revenue Service, legally operating in South Carolina, and have been in business since at least September 13, 2019. Priority was supposed to have been given to groups that had not previously received repayable federal loans issued under the emergency Paycheque Protection Program, or other federal coronavirus relief funding, according to published guidelines.

Moore told The Nerve that state law passed in September required applicants for nonprofit grants to submit documents in support of their applications. The grant review committee and a separate committee that assessed minority and small business grant applications were assisted by the international consultancy firm Guidehouse and the SCDOA, the Department of Revenue or the Secretary of State’s office. , according to records.

Under state law passed in June, lawmakers approved $ 10 million in CARES funds for the Virginia-based Guidehouse. The state comptroller general’s records show that the SCDOA so far this fiscal year, which began on July 1, has paid Guidehouse at least $ 2.3 million.

Other laureates

Nerve’s review of CARES grants to nonprofits found that of the 686 grantees, 203 will each receive the maximum of $ 50,000, and 179 others will receive $ 49,788 each.

The recipients include the following two Columbia-based non-profit organizations that do not provide food, rent, or assistance with utilities or medical services to Southern Carolinians as part of their primary mission:

  • IT-oLogy, which “is working to increase the number of IT professionals in South Carolina,” according to its website. He received a grant of $ 50,000; The organization’s revenue for fiscal 2019 totaled $ 463,517, according to its federal income tax return.
  • The South Carolina Foundation for Educational Leadership, which was established to support the Association of School Administrators of South Carolina, according to a description online. He received a grant of $ 49,788; The organization’s revenue for fiscal 2020 totaled $ 306,738, according to its federal income tax return.

In her email response Thursday, SCDOA spokeswoman Coakley said IT-oLogy had reported that the organization provided “arts and culture items or activities,” although it did not not precised. Tammy Mainwaring, the organization’s president, did not respond to a written request for comment on Thursday.

As for the Foundation for Educational Leadership, Elizabeth Phibbs, who is the executive director of the Association of School Administrators and who appears on federal tax records as the foundation’s primary official, told The Nerve on Thursday in a response by email that the foundation had requested a grant under the “other” category for the types of services provided, as noted on its application, although it did not give details.

The Nerve review also found that three Charleston-based nonprofits that have received significant public funding in recent years have received CARES grants of $ 50,000 or $ 49,788, including:

  • The South Carolina Aquarium, which generated total revenue of $ 14.6 million in 2019, including $ 1.5 million from state, according to its federal tax return;
  • Spoleto Festival USA, which in fiscal 2019 generated total revenues of $ 7.8 million, including $ 372,206 in government grants, according to its federal income tax return; and
  • The Southeastern Wildlife Exposition, which generated total revenues of $ 2.9 million in fiscal 2020. Its “gold” sponsors include the SC Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, according to its website.

Brundrett is the editor of The Nerve (www.thenerve.org). Contact him at 803-254-4411 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @RickBrundrett. Follow The Nerve on Facebook and Twitter @thenervesc.

The Nerve Stories are free to reprint and republish with permission and credit from The Nerve.

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