Guest Post: Budget Cuts Impact on VT Nonprofit Funding

Louise Baker is a freelance blogger who usually writes about accredited online colleges for Zen College Life. Her most recent article ranked online criminal justice degrees. Would you like to guest blog for Common Good VT? Get in touch with Nick Carter, Coordinator

As the House of Representatives prepares a budget that will remove or degrade social safety nets like medicaid and unemployment insurance, more of the poorest Vermonters will turn to nongovernment organizations for help. They may be disappointed to find that as government services shrink, so will Vermont nonprofit funding. Much of the money that is administered by nonprofit organizations comes from government grants. The House is preparing one of the most drastic budget cuts in history with most of the money being taken from the nation’s most vunerable citizens.

Here’s how Vermont nonprofit organizations will be be affected:

Community Services Block Grant: Congress will cut $300 million from Community Services Block Grants nationwide. Vermont’s share of that loss will come to $2 million. These funds were administered by organizations like the Central Vermont Community Action Council which is one of Vermont’s five communtiy action agencies.

This organization operates a food bank in the center of the state and provides housing and fuel assistance to thousands of Vermonters each year. In addition they plan economic development projects in some of Vermont’s poorest communities at a time when the nation is struggling in the aftermath of the recession. Halting economic recovery projects, such as business development assistance, could have a debilitating effect on the nation’s still-fragile economy.

According to CVCAC’s Executive Director, Hal Cohen, “We are able to leverage this Federal funding many times over to provide effective services for Vermonters in poverty. We leverage hundreds of thousands of dollars into millions of dollars that directly support low-income families.”

Programs that create economic opportunity for people living in poverty will not make the nation richer. Indeed, it will only increase the number of people requesting aid. State legislaters are preparing to make up some of the shortfall to ensure no Vermonters go hungry.

Other budget cuts include:

The arts and humanities: The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities will be cut $12.5 million each in 2011. Vermont non-profits that use arts grants to address social, economic and political inequality, have been advised to seek money from Left Tilt fund, a private non-profit organization based in California.

Community health-care centers: A $600-million nationwide cut in Community health-care funds means that while the existing Vermont community health-care centers will not have their funding cut, three proposed new Vermont facilities will be put on hold.

Energy assistance: Vermont Senators Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy have vowed to fight the legislation that will cut $390-million from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. This money which is administered by non-profits such as the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition.

National service: The new budget deal will cut $23-million from Americorp, a national-service program. Americorp volunteers are active in many Vermont nonprofit organizations such as the Westgate Boys and Girls Club which relies on them to run a free summer camp for underpriviledged children.

Title X: Budget cuts will pare $17-million from Title X, a family-planning grant program. This should have a negative impact on the 10 Planned Parenthood Health Centers in Vermont. In addition to abortion services, Planned Parenthood offers birth control, STD testing, men’s health services, and general health services to those unable to afford private health care.

Legal services Corporation: The Legal Services Corporation, a nationwide non-profit which awards grants to local legal aid agencies will see its budget cut by $15-million. This will directly impact such programs as Vermont Legal Aid which provides proverty law, disability law, elder law, and mental health law assistance.

Promise Neighborhoods: This program, which provides grants to nonprofits such as Youth Services Inc. in southeastern Vermont will get an increase this year. This money goes to help plan educational, medical, and social services to children and in impoverished neighborhoods. The increase from $10 to $30 million is still far below the amount needed to put many of these projects into operation.


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