More than two dozen nonprofit organizations will receive funding from Loudoun County after a competitive application process was established by the Board of Supervisors last year.
The board on April 18 unanimously adopted the fiscal 2020 nonprofit grant recommendations to support more than 30 nonprofits and hand out over $1.5 million in grants and $45,000 in mini-grants.
Two notable nonprofits not included were Mobile Hope, which helps homeless and precariously house teenagers and young adults, and Opportunities, Alternatives and Resources (OAR) Inc., which offers services for those incarcerated or recently incarcerated and aid to their families.
Mobile Hope did not submit an application for funding last year, but it received $5,000 in county funding from 2016 to 2018. The organization requested $131,527 for fiscal 2020.
"We acknowledge we didn't excel in the grant process and we never will until we have the staff, and we need your help to do that,” Mobile Hope CEO and Founder Donna Fortier said.
County staff implemented a new rating method and offered training, upon the recommendation of the board, to determine which nonprofits would receive funding through a value rating method. Proposals were evaluated using Virginia’s Best Value Rating Method, a scale of 0-3 -- weighted for each question’s value -- with three being acceptable and zero meaning missing.
Under this method, Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN) of Northern Virginia/Resilience Network earned the highest score of 105.7 points to receive $110,000 for fiscal 2020.
However, Mobile Hope earned one of the lowest scores with 62 points, according to county staff. The organization’s low score was a result of several factors including insufficient budget justification, incomplete outcomes and evaluation plan, a brief strategic plan and significant concerns regarding the organization’s financial health based on the audit.
Mobile Hope ranked 36th out of 38 competitive grant applicants and was one of 28 applicants that did not receive either a nonprofit or mini-grant.
“If I thought making a motion out of fund balance would fix the problem, I’d make that motion, but the truth is we would be right back here with the exact same problem. It’s not a matter of can we fund this, it’s a matter of should we fund it,” Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) said.
Vice Chairman Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) added, "The way this works is by putting in a solid, good competitive grant application. It’s not about writing emails to women’s groups and churches to come here. It’s not about social media posts. It’s about putting in a good application, and in this case, they were ranked 36th out of 38, scoring way below 86.”
Supporters of OAR, one of several nonprofits at Thursday’s business meeting, spoke out against the rating method and vouched for their respective organization. OAR received the highest amount of funding last year.
One of the tools to measure the funding recipients is based on a nonprofit’s level of service to the community, according to county staff. OAR received zero points as a score in the service category.
“I think it’s very important for me to point out that the score card that was provided and suggested as far as organization was concerned did not clearly identify or correspond with our proposal,” OAR Executive Director Derwin Overton said.
He added, “We serve people in the community as well as the Adult Detention Center, so how we would not receive points based upon a percentage of individuals that we serve in Loudoun County kind of befuddled me because I know everyone we serve is in Loudoun County."
The board stood by its application process, but supervisors did not rule out room for improvement.
“Yes, we have to fix that methodology and continue to keep improving it,” Broad Run Supervisor Ron Meyer (R) said.
Dulles District Supervisor Matthew Letourneau (R) added, “For those organizations that have not [been funded], I hope it can be a learning experience and the energy can be channeled into going through the process again in the future in a way that will get an application that’s approved.”
Supervisors listened to several speakers touting their various nonprofits. The period of public comments was described as “heart-wrenching” by Catoctin District Supervisor Geary Higgins (R).
Prior to the board’s approval, nonprofit organization Hire Our Heroes withdrew its request for a mini-grant, leaving $5,000 unallocated.
As a result, the board approved an allocation of $5,000 to The Fenwick Foundation, which scored the highest behind Hire Our Heroes.
County staff said in fiscal 2020 the board will continue to provide funding for nonprofit organizations that provide core safety net services that meet the critical safety, health, transportation, and emergency shelter needs of those most vulnerable and disadvantaged in the community.
Based on the criteria, six nonprofit organizations were recommended for direct funding, including HealthWorks, Loudoun Free Clinic, the Northern Virginia Dental Clinic, Blue Ridge Speech and Hearing, Loudoun Volunteer Caregivers and the Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter (LAWS). The county allocated $648,373 for these organizations in the fiscal 2020 budget.
A full rundown on the nonprofit grant funding is below:
-Blue Ridge Speech and Hearing ($68,590)
-HealthWorks for Northern Virginia ($218,420)
-Loudoun Abused Women's Shelter ($151,419)
-Loudoun Free Clinic ($101,478)
-Loudoun Volunteer Caregivers ($73,466)
-Northern VA Dental Clinic ($35,000)
Through the county’s competitive grants process, 18 nonprofit organizations were selected to receive more than $1 million in grant funding for fiscal 2020:
-A Place To Be ($64,115)
-Capital Caring ($21,529)
-Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington ($41,037)
-Community Foundation for Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties ($55,029)
-Friends of Loudoun Mental Health ($17,175)
-INMED Partnerships for Children ($86,012)
-Legal Services of Northern Virginia ($73,213)
-Loudoun Hunger Relief ($106,527)
-Loudoun Literacy Council ($61,165)
-Northern Virginia Family Service ($29,676)
-Ryan Bartel Foundation ($36,103)
-SCAN (Stop Child Abuse Now) of Northern Virginia/ Resilience Network ($110,000)
-The Arc of Loudoun/ Ability Fitness ($105,486)
-The Chris Atwood Foundation ($34,346)
-The Good Shepherd Alliance ($61,077)
-Windy Hill Foundation/ Middleburg FISH (For Immediate and Sympathetic Help) ($51,292)
-Women Giving Back ($72,591)
-YMCA of Metropolitan Washington ($52,049)
Nine organizations will receive a total of $45,000 in mini-grant funding, which helps smaller organizations build capacity or support small-scale innovative ideas or projects. Those organizations, each of which were awarded $5,000 mini-grants, are:
-Bringing Resources to Aid Women's Shelters (BRAWS)
-Dulles South Food Pantry, Inc.
-Help for Others, Inc.
-It Takes a Village, Baby
-Loudoun Commission on Women and Girls
-Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy
-Project Horse Empowerment Center
-The Fenwick Foundation
-Tree of Life (TOL) Ministries, Inc