Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission approves first grant program

The Erie County Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission, now known as Diverse Erie, is set to launch its first grant program in July.

The Generational Impact Grant program, which was unanimously approved by the commission on Thursday, will provide grants ranging from $100,000 to $500,000 to capital projects deemed to have a lasting impact on the black, indigenous or ethnic population. color, or BIPOC.

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“The commission is interested in capital projects that will have a level of permanence,” said Tim Wachter, legal counsel for the commission, adding that eligible projects should also help communities or individuals disproportionately affected by COVID- 19.

Grant guidelines state that funds can be used for legal, engineering, or architectural fees, as well as for the acquisition of land or property or the construction and rehabilitation of existing properties. They cannot be used for feasibility studies, program facilitation or vehicle purchases.

Gary Lee, executive director of Diverse Erie, said he expects recipients to leverage their money and get more funding to continue their projects.

“We are working to develop a new mindset in Erie County and the BIPOC community,” he said. “We believe the Generational Impact Grant achieves this goal by investing and leveraging our funds in projects that will endure for generations to come.”

Lee said he expects grant applications to be available on the commission’s website by July 15. He said he intended to hold a press conference next month to further explain the program to the public.

DEI’s first grant program

The grant program is the first for the commission, which was established in 2021 to advance equity and minority representation in the county. The commission is funded by $3.5 million in start-up funds, thanks to the $52.3 million allocation from Erie County under the American Rescue Plan Act funding.

As Erie County Executive Brenton Davis talked about rebudgeting ARPA’s second round of funds to the county and eliminating the commission’s next $3.5 million round because of its lack of progress, the Generational Impact Grant could also prove beneficial for the future of the commission. .

“Comment and review accompany any kind of government work, especially a new initiative,” Lee told the Erie Times-News. “The DEI Commission has worked diligently to be creative and to think differently.”

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Grant Eligibility

According to the grant guidelines approved by the committee, eligible projects:

  • Must be located in qualified census tracts for housing and urban development
  • Must be located where primary beneficiaries earn less than 60% of Erie County median income
  • Must be where 25% of primary beneficiaries are below the federal poverty level or where applicant is able to independently prove eligibility based on ARPA guidelines
  • Must be BIPOC or have an impact on the BIPOC community in Erie County, or be an organization that serves the BOPOC community

Wachter said projects must have a minimum 1-to-1 match from another funding source, public or private.

“There is also a 12 month recovery period,” he said. “So in the event that there is an ongoing project where there has already been a significant investment, you would be able to use this counterpart in order to allow the offer of this grant.

Lee said Diverse Erie intends to hire a grant portfolio manager to help applicants with eligibility and the application process.

“The commission wants to make sure that people of color live, work and play in high quality places. Erie County is a much better place to live when everyone is living their best life,” he said. he declares.

Alongside Lee, the commission members present on Thursday were Chairman Gerald Blanks, Tiffany LaVette, Matthew Harris and Gwendolyn White.

AJ Rao can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @ETNRao.

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