Englewood officials have green-lighted another round of COVID relief grants to local nonprofit groups, and those receiving the funds say they are a big help. Qualifying nonprofits have until Jan. 15 …
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Englewood officials have green-lighted another round of COVID relief grants to local nonprofit groups, and those receiving the funds say they are a big help.
Qualifying nonprofits have until Jan. 15 to apply for grants of up to $4,000 that can be used for a wide range of purposes, said Darren Hollingsworth, the city's economic development manager.
Click here to find the grant application.
He said supporting nonprofits is important in a time of disruption to their typical fundraising networks.
“Nonprofits are feeling the pinch just as bad as for-profit enterprises,” he said. “Whether they're membership-based or tend to get revenues from events and activities, there's a lot of pain out there.”
Nonprofits backfill many of the roles a city perhaps wishes it could fulfill but aren't in its mandate, he said.
“We're talking everything from the arts and humanities to feeding the hungry,” he said of nonprofits. “They're the glue that helps hold the community together. I'm glad we can help them out.”
The grants, funded with federal CARES Act money, were initially supposed to dry up at the end of 2020, but new guidance from the Treasury Department allowed them to continue into the new year, Hollingsworth said.
Including a prior round of nonprofit grants last spring, Hollingsworth said the city had given out 17 grants to 12 different groups as of Jan 8.
To qualify, groups must be based in Englewood, must demonstrate COVID-related hardship, and can't be home-based, religious or political.
The list of recipients includes groups like the Museum of Outdoor Arts, Opera Colorado, Pirate Youth Sports, Movement 5280, Project ReCYCLE and Kaizen Food Rescue.
City grants have gone a long way toward helping needy people, said Sarah Lesyinski, the executive director of Cafe 180, the pay-what-you-can restaurant at Broadway and Floyd Avenue.
In normal times, the restaurant invites those who can't pay for their meals to volunteer around the restaurant, by sweeping floors, cleaning windows or picking up trash. But under COVID protocols, that arrangement isn't possible.
“Instead, we ask our clients to pay it forward with an act of kindness in the community,” Lesyinski said.
Meanwhile, the restaurant has seen the number of clients who can pay the full cost of their meal decline, while those who can't pay have skyrocketed — doubling from around 7,000 free meals in a normal year to more than 14,000 in 2020.
“When you consider that one of our meals costs $4, that means a $4,000 grant can feed a thousand people,” Lesyinski said. “It's made this past year doable and kept our costs down.”
Grants from the city and other entities have also allowed Cafe 180 to install Plexiglas dividers and other COVID safety measures.
Despite a rollback on indoor dining restrictions, Lesyinski said the whiplash of ever-changing state regulations led restaurant leadership to keep indoor dining closed until the COVID situation stabilizes. The downside is a decline in diners who might end up donating to the restaurant.
Still, Cafe 180 is forging ahead with new programs, like an updated menu, plans to expand an outdoor patio and a Blue Apron-like meal kit program.
“We've been worried people think we're closed,” Lesyinski said. “We're here and we're staying. We feel fortunate and grateful. The city has been a big help, and we hope we can be a big help to the city.”
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