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SCG Policy Blog: What to Know about Community Funded Projects (CFP)

Monday, March 29, 2021

BY DAVID J. CARROLL

 

On March 2021, Southern California Grantmakers, alongside our Philanthropy California partners across the state, participated in United Philanthropy Forum’s first-ever virtual Foundations on the Hill. Given the new federal administration and Congress, it was imperative to bring our collective voice of over 300 philanthropic and philanthropic-serving organizations to Capitol Hill. The Philanthropy California delegation, made up of over 40 members, held nearly 30 Legislative meetings with Democrat and Republican Congressional members and staff, representing the entire State of California. 

As our delegation shared information met with Congresspeople to discuss the importance of supporting charitable giving in policy, Community Funded Projects (CFP) became a prominent and unexpected conversation topic. Community Funded Projects are the new iteration of “earmarks.” Traditionally, earmarks have been provisions attached to a discretionary spending appropriations bill that directs funds to a designated recipient. The earmarks process does not adhere to the merit-based or competitive funds allocation process. Earmarks have not been allowed since 2011 and often carry the perception of being wasteful spending for favors and special interests. However, CPF is a new initiative for Fiscal Year 2022 that will enable Members of Congress to request direct funding for projects that benefit the communities they represent. The initiative will include strict eligibility, ethics, and transparency to eliminate past perceptions of earmarks and are strictly for the use of nonprofit, governmental, and tribal organizations. 

To access CFP resources, organizations must apply directly to the Congressperson representing the district they wish to support. Each Congressional District will have up to 10 projects they can forward to Appropriations, who will make the final decisions. Republican representatives of Congress have indicated that their caucus has not decided if they will support CFP’s; however, they will accept project proposals to be held if they choose to participate. 

This funding is for the Fiscal Year 2022 and does not offer multi-year support. Congresswoman Nanette Barragan was the most intentional about soliciting applications and provided some additional guidance for those wishing to participate. Her advice for any submitted projects is that they be visible in the community, have matching funds available, and can be completed/partially completed in the fiscal year awarded. Congresswoman Barragan provided additional information regarding the funds, application, and process below. 

Community Funded Projects offer an opportunity to significantly reduce philanthropy’s responsibility to meet funding gaps and increase our sector’s overall impact. Given that CPF is limited to nonprofit agencies and governmental entities, the funds are realistically attainable and can provide hundreds of thousands of funding. These projects, by design, are meant to be short-term and visibly impactful. Nonprofits can work with elected Congresspeople to engage in projects that create real and immediate benefits to communities. Inherent to CFP’s is the incentive to collaborate. These funds have to provide matching resources for approval. Philanthropy and nonprofit can use CFP funding to create public-private partnerships and leverage resources in a way that can make an exponential impact for both the funder and nonprofit alike.  

While we expect CPF to be available every year, this year’s turnaround is very short, with most offices requesting applications by the end of March or early April. All have expressed some flexibility but will need to submit the recommended projects to Appropriations by mid-April. If you're interested in CPF, we highly recommend you visit your representative's website or contact them directly to learn if they are accepting applications. 

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