The review of Charlottesville’s nonprofit funding process is nearly complete, but a public comment on Monday night has altered the timeline.
Before the City Council was scheduled to vote on its next steps, Walt Heinecke suggested that the city focus nonprofit funding in the priority areas identified by University of Virginia President Jim Ryan’s University-Community Working Group: jobs and wages, affordable housing, health care, and education.
“I think if we get this right, this is going to be a major feather in the city’s equity cap at the end of the year,” Heinecke said.
Charlottesville broke off from its joint Agency Budget Review Team process with Albemarle County in July 2018, freezing funding to nonprofits at their previous levels.
Mayor Nikuyah Walker, who campaigned on bringing greater transparency and citizen engagement to the process, initiated the review with the support of fellow councilors.
“While the money is taxpayer money and the nonprofits will be providing the service, neither of those entities should be the primary focus,” Walker said at Monday’s meeting.
City staff passed out a revised resolution to the council after Heinecke’s comment that incorporated the suggestion to use the University-Community Working Group’s priority areas, which were based on a survey of over 3,000 residents of Charlottesville and the surrounding counties.
“One of the things we most consistently hear is that our community members have told us what’s wrong for a long time and they’re frustrated by no action or the wrong kind of action,” said the city’s director of human services, Kaki Dimock.
Rather than creating a committee to decide priority areas, the new resolution creates a “Measurements and Solutions Group” to identify appropriate ways to measure progress in the priority areas.
For the first year, nonprofits applying for more than $25,000 would be allowed to suggest their own criteria and metrics for how they contribute to the priority areas. Smaller requests would go through a simplified process to be created by staff. Grants for less than $10,000 would also be available to help nonprofits do equity analysis, data collection and other capacity building.
The council has considered creating a separate funding process for art and culture-related organizations, but that decision would be deferred until the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau hires a new executive director.
The councilors were supportive of the changes but decided to postpone their vote to the next council meeting to give the public a chance to see the new resolution.
The next City Council meeting is scheduled to take place at 6:30 p.m. June 3. The council hopes to talk with Albemarle at their joint meeting scheduled for June 6 about coordinating the two nonprofit funding processes again.