As the United States takes the next steps to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, the $1.9 trillion emergency stimulus plan known as the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 is the next source of support for COVID-19 pandemic response. But how does this next piece of legislation and spending impact first responders, including EMS agencies and firefighters?
Below are major plan components related to funding and relief opportunities for this sector:
- $440 billion to help support struggling communities and towards protecting the jobs of first responders and healthcare workers from layoffs
- $350 billion in emergency funding for state, local, and territorial governments to assist in maintaining employment for frontline workers, which includes first responders
- Hiring a vaccination workforce: The plan is to hire 100,000 public health workers to support community vaccination initiatives and improve the quality of health care services, with a focus on underserved communities.
Within these funds, the summary of the plan also specifies additional AFG and SAFER program funding that provides $100 million for Assistance to Firefighter Grants (AFG) and $200 million for Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants (SAFER). The Act also provides $100 million for emergency management performance grant funding to help state and local emergency management agencies and communities address COVID-19 and facilitate vaccine rollout.
This funding will remain available through December 31, 2024 or until all funds have been exhausted and distributed. Local governments will receive funds in two phases – the first half 60 days after enactment, and the second half one year later.
So far, it has not be confirmed how these monies will be distributed and if distribution will follow similar guidance to the CARES Act, which means that distribution of funds could potentially be as flexible as was seen with the Coronavirus Relief Fund (part of the CARES Act).
Furthermore, the FY2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 133) also provides additional COVID-19 relief and funding for the federal government until Sept. 20, 2021. Although the Consolidated Appropriations Act includes an extension of the CARES Act and grants for hospitals and health care providers, it is important to note that it does not include additional funding for local and state governments for COVID-19 relief.
Points to Consider When Planning to Secure Grant Funds
The COVID-19 pandemic will continue to challenge all types of EMS agencies throughout 2021 and economic impacts of the pandemic are likely to be felt for years afterward. Grant funding and federal assistance such as the American Rescue Plan will be critical to your agency’s financial stability.
To position your agency for success, consider these tips:
- Maintain communication with city and county leaders.
- Ensure your agency’s SAM.gov registration is current. Check here for more info or to register.
- Make sure your financial audits, statements and 990s are prepared and in ready-to-share access for quick posting.
- For more federal funding opportunities, you can search Grants.gov.
- Continue your search for funding beyond federal dollars, including corporate and private foundation searches.
Private and corporate funders are also important to consider when searching for pandemic response funding. Take advantage of online search databases, such as Lexipol’s GrantFinder, or develop a familiarity and build relationships with local industries/businesses in the area.
There may also be unique opportunities through community foundations. Many have established COVID-19 relief funds, typically searchable by county or geographical area, that provide funding to 501(c)3 nonprofits and public entities responding to the pandemic. Many of these programs are still ongoing and accept applications on a rolling basis. For more information, you can visit the Community Foundation Public Awareness Initiative.
Additionally, many corporate foundations also continue to accept applications for relief funding in their geographic areas. Many banks, community foundations, insurance companies, etc. will provide funding for local response.
Through the COVID-19 pandemic, we are here to provide PPE, training, and resources to help keep essential workers serving essential industries safe. Regardless of your state’s COVID numbers, if you need personal protective equipment (PPE) and are eligible, then you should apply. For more information about these programs or for help selecting PPE, please do not hesitate to reach out to our safety specialists today.