Representatives from local nonprofits, schools, colleges and the city attended a community project funding workshop Friday hosted by Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita.
The workshop aimed to inform those who wished to fund various community projects – such as new buildings for schools, infrastructure, staffing, etc. – on the process of attaining federal money for their organizations.
Representatives from Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, the city of Santa Clarita, College of the Canyons, and organizations such as Bridge to Home and the WiSH Foundation were among the major local organizations that were in attendance, but there were also a number of smaller ones as well.
Garcia said community projects, both big and small, should have the opportunity to access the various ways federal funding can be secured.
“The reason this is so near and dear to me is because… I have always been adamant that charities are the most effective way to help our communities,” said Garcia. “[When] the government spends a dollar from Washington, D.C., it acts like 15 cents. When charities spend a dollar it acts like 90 to 95 cents. So this is us being able to pull that very ineffective federal government money into the bottom line and it makes it very effective.”
Chris Yewdall, from Sleepy Valley Water Co., said his organization is seeing if its projects could be funded.
“So one of the things that we’d like to do, because we’ve been around for 100 years, is update our infrastructure,” said Yewdall. “That’s why I was asking questions about the infrastructure. So it’s really whether we can get funding to accelerate a project to upgrade our infrastructure.”
There are generally two different types of funding local organizations and nonprofits can apply for: One is programmatic funding – which is money provided to agencies that create grant programs (typically given out through a competitive award process or through the state government), which may have limitations or conditions. The other is an earmark, which are “appropriations made to a single local project.”
Earmarking is the most efficient and simplest way to attain funding, as they don’t include the competitive award process (but are still subject to certain requirements) and are usually smaller in budget, and are “limited in number and scope.”
Amber Cole, director for grants development for COC, said the college was able to secure $1 million to fund its Advanced Technology Center, which houses “advanced manufacturing and Computer Numerical Control Production lab aimed to meet the high demand for skilled employees in industry sectors.”
Cole said the process of accessing these funds was pretty simple.
“It was really pretty easy. I know we have a working relationship with Congressman Garcia and this came to our attention,” said Cole. “I worked primarily with Jacob [Gatman], he helped walk us through this process of applying and submitting online. They also helped us kind of sculpt our project to best meet the funder requirements.”
Cole said the new ATC center is under construction and is planned to be open in the next year.
Officials from Garcia’s office said while they are trying to make the process as easy and transparent as possible, the process can still be lengthy and nonprofits are encouraged to work with his office “early and often.”
According to Garcia, successful earmarks have brought in $11.2 million to the Santa Clarita Valley. While certain projects can secure large sums, these are not blank checks. While each petition is considered on a case-by-case basis, all still must justify, in detail, the reasoning and intent for their funding.
Garcia said no organization is immune to the scrutiny and even mentioned a large local organization, which he did not wish to name, that failed to provide enough information and was denied funding. He urged everyone interested in petitioning for funds to make sure to provide as much information as possible.