People don’t ordinarily think about non-profits as economic generators for the community. But in fact, nationally non-profit organizations contribute more than $800 billion a year to the US economy and employs about 10% of the nation’s labor force!
One example of how non-profits provide economic benefit to their communities is in bringing federal funds to support local needs. From the mid-2016 through the beginning of this year, SPAN successfully applied for four major federal grants, raising nearly $750,000 that not only enhances local resources for survivors of violence, but that also creates jobs and generates revenue for local businesses.
In 2015 the U.S. Office for Victims of Crime announced the availability of funds from the Crime Victims Fund (established by the Victims of Crime Act, and thus known as VOCA funds), for agencies that serve victims of crime to make capital improvements. In 2016 SPAN successfully applied for this one-time VOCA funding, receiving an award of $72,000 that supported strategic and long-overdue updates to SPAN’s network, security and telecommunications systems. This included adding security cameras to the Boulder Outreach Center, moving our email service to the “cloud”, replacing a nine-year-old network server and 20-year-old telephone equipment.
SPAN also won two housing grants, one from VOCA funds and the other offered through the U.S. Office on Violence Against Women (VAWA). The VAWA grant is a three-year/$350,000 project to support long term transitional housing for victims of intimate partner violence, particularly people who don’t qualify for traditional housing programs due to a number of factors like age, family status, immigration issues, income, etc.
SPAN also received a 20-month/$180,000 grant from the Housing for Crime Victim Special Project/Victim of Crimes Act (VOCA)). These funds were awarded in a highly competitive process intended to support projects in the implementation of innovative methods of housing support for survivors of domestic violence. The VOCA Housing funds have allowed SPAN to add staff to its housing program and to create a full-time director’s position devoted to housing and economic justice for survivors. VOCA funds also support more flexible, dynamic resources for housing, including making funding available to keep survivors in their existing housing, rather than have them become homeless in the first place. In today’s hot, high priced housing market this support can make a critical difference in the life of a survivor!
Earlier this year SPAN also successfully applied for VOCA funds as part of the Lawyers for Victims Pilot Project. This $120,000 grant provides funding through 2018 to connect survivors of violence in Boulder County with lawyers as they seek Protection Orders and deal with other civil issues related to the domestic abuse. There are scant resources currently available for low income and middle income victims to access legal services for civil matters and this can create overwhelming barriers to pursuing Protection Orders. SPAN’s clients routinely identify access to legal services as one of the top three resources they require, behind safety and housing, and these funds offer an exciting opportunity to address this critical need.