On March 23, Gov. Mike Parson announced the recipients of more than $94 million in grant funding, including the City of Springfield, Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri (CCSOMO), Council of Churches of the Ozarks, Harmony House and The Kitchen.
The grants, which consist of funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and Parson’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget, were awarded through the Community Revitalization Grant Program by the Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED).
The trio of local nonprofit organizations, in addition to the city, is receiving more than $11.1 million in total funding from the grant program that launched in September 2022.
A mixture of 70 eligible government entities, nonprofits and other organizations around the state were awarded grants after demonstrating in their applications how the funds would be used to “revitalize communities and spur economic development.”
The program requires grant recipients to be able to provide a 50 percent match in funding, with reduced matches acceptable for communities exhibiting need. Applicants also had to demonstrate their planned project to be a community priority.
“We’re excited to announce these significant investments through the Community Revitalization Grant Program to help strengthen our communities and the future of our state,” Parson said in a press release.
“As we continue our work to ensure our state’s economy remains strong, these grant awards will make a real difference for local communities. Projects funded through this program will benefit Missourians all across our state by supporting critical services and addressing local needs.”
City of Springfield to use funds for Renew Jordan Creek project
Of the local recipients, the City of Springfield was awarded the largest amount, totaling $3,749,711.
The city has designated the funds to go toward Renew Jordan Creek, a $25 million project located on several properties north of Park Central Square meant to create urban amenities of sustainable green space, pedestrian access to downtown Springfield and further promote a “sense of place,” in addition to flood control and stormwater improvements.
“When we were talking through with the [DED] over the last several months, as the state’s been dealing with how to spend its ARPA money, this became clearly a project on that,” said Springfield Mayor Ken McClure in an interview with the Daily Citizen.
The city is matching their portion of the funds with other grants, a level property tax and a transportation sales tax, according to city spokesperson Cora Scott.
The project qualified under the grant program because the surrounding area is designated by ARPA Low Income Qualifying Census Tracts as having low-income households and poverty rates higher than the state average, according to a press release.
“This is a major project and I enjoy looking at the renderings and the schematics and getting excited about what that will look like and what that will do,” McClure said in the interview. “But I can’t lose sight of the fact that we’re dealing with a very real stormwater issue and flood control and that’s going to help tremendously on that.”
McClure also emphasized the community revitalization that could occur as a result of this project following the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on downtown businesses and area residents.
“In addition to supporting identified economic catalyst sites and existing small business entities, the Renew Jordan Creek Project will contribute heavily to quality of place and quality of life benefits for this socioeconomically distressed area of Springfield,” he said in the press release.
Area nonprofits to put funds toward a variety of projects, day-to-day operations
In addition to the City of Springfield, four Springfield-based nonprofits that specialize in differing social services, were awarded millions of dollars from the grant program:
- Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri – $2,500,000
- Council of Churches of the Ozarks – $1,946,860
- Family Violence Center (Harmony House) – $431,318
- The Kitchen – $2,500,200
The Kitchen, a nonprofit providing homeless shelter, housing assistance, case management and other services, intends to use the funds to expand their emergency shelter at their O’Reilly Family Campus, located at 730 N. Glenstone Ave.
The planned expansion would add 12 more units to a building that currently has 14 apartments and a 50-bed capacity. (The Kitchen also recently applied for ARPA funds through the city of Springfield for this project.)
The Council of Churches of the Ozarks, a local faith-based organization that provides everything from food assistance to shelter to educational resources for vulnerable citizens, will use the grant for the new and improved Safe to Sleep women’s shelter, which is currently located at 627 N. Glenstone Ave.
“Our team was ecstatic and maybe just a little intimidated because it’s gonna really happen and it’s going to change the landscape of unsheltered women living in Springfield, Missouri and surrounding areas for years to come,” said CEO Jaimie Trussell.
The announcement of the grant came only a few days after The Council of Churches unveiled their new headquarters, which consolidated many of their services into one location.
They have been envisioning and planning for the construction or remodel of the shelter during their recent Levell Up Capital Campaign, but were uncertain how quickly they would be able to collect the necessary financial resources for another project of a similar size.
“It seemed very unlikely that we would have the wherewithal to do another phase of the campaign this quickly,” Trussell said. “We were not optimistic that this would happen in this timeframe and so it was even more special to realize that it was within grasp.”
While they are closer to beginning this project than they were a week ago, the $1.9 million is only a portion of the funds necessary. Trussell said they currently have very little of the 50 percent match so they will be “fundraising like crazy in the next 18 months.”
Nonetheless, Trussell said receiving the grant was “incredibly gratifying” and that the DED’s approval of their application, which demonstrated the need for a crisis shelter, was affirming.
The Family Violence Center, otherwise known as Harmony House, an emergency shelter and support service organization that helps people fleeing domestic violence, will apply their grant to the day-to-day operations in their advocate office. In addition to the services advocates provide in helping clients at their shelter or in crisis situations, the offices maintain a 24/7 emergency hotline.
Jared Alexander, the executive director of Harmony House, said that the $431,318 will help cover the cost, over a two-year period, of four advocate positions that have already been filled, and allow them to designate funding for hotel rooms for clients, in the event their shelter is full.
“It’s putting a very vital resource in the community and keeping one available to folks that need us,” Alexander said. “We’re just happy to keep the phone lines open and be here for those that need to reach out for some support.”
The Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri, which is headquartered in Springfield but has several office locations across southern Missouri, is using their grant to support a transitional housing program known as the LifeHouse Crisis Maternity Home, which is currently under construction in Cape Girardeau.
“CCSOMO’s decade of success with its Springfield LifeHouse location provides the model that supports the birth of healthy babies and leads mothers toward self-sufficiency and independence,” a press release from CCSOMO reads.