Chester County Commissioners has approved the first round of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant recipients, with Commissioners Marian Moskowitz, Josh Maxwell, and Michelle Kichline stressing that the ARPA grants will provide an equitable infusion of resources to meet local pandemic recovery needs and help accelerate the ongoing rebuilding of Chester County’s economy.
Seventy-three groups and organizations were selected and awarded ARPA grants in the first round, totaling close to $40 million, representing a substantial investment in much needed local programs and services. Chester County received more than 300 ARPA applications for funding requests from a wide array of municipalities, public authorities, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations that are located within, or provide substantial service to the county. Application funding requests amounted to three times the total ARPA funds allocated to Chester County.
“The ARPA grants have provided us with a unique opportunity to make strategic, local investments to ensure key industries and communities that were impacted by the pandemic can be restored, and even strengthened,” said Commissioners’ Chair Marian Moskowitz.
“This includes support for our county’s public health response, and importantly, funds for behavioral health services and infrastructure needs. The funds are going to organizations of all sizes and across the whole of the county, to improve services within our communities that were hardest hit by the pandemic.”
Funding for the recommended projects is broken down as follows:
• $7.4 million for housing
• $13 million for behavioral health
• $1.4 million for workforce development
• $1.6 million for community facilities and programs
• $900,000 for childcare
• $1.6 million for food security
• $8.7 million for public health
• $5.2 million for public safety.
Chester County’s ARPA funding recommendations were made to the commissioners by a committee of 36 volunteers divided equally by Chester County residents and county staff. The volunteers formed six independent review teams and developed a system that followed ARPA guidelines to review proposals and address each priority for ARPA funding.
Chester County Commissioner Josh Maxwell said, “Having the community involved in the decision-making process has been extremely exciting and rewarding. They know their local communities best and evaluated and selected projects that address needs across our county, and that are going to help make Chester County better for all of us.
“This includes a significant amount of funding for housing and home repair services; support for the underemployed, unemployed and economically challenged; and mental health services for our schools,” continued Maxwell.
The county is continuing its due diligence in evaluating additional projects, and expects to announce further awards at a later date, potentially before the end of the year.
“The ARPA program is allowing us to consider crucial, but previously cost-prohibitive services such as a County 988 mental health crisis response system, as well as support funding for first responder organizations, smaller nonprofits and churches in the important community work that they do,” said Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline.
“We received hundreds of worthy applications and I wish we had the ARPA funding to support all who are doing amazing work across the county,” continued Kichline.
All ARPA funding applications recommended by independent review teams have also been reviewed by Susquehanna Accounting and Consulting Services (SACS) to ensure compliance with federal rules.
A list of the first round of Chester County ARPA fund awards can be found at chesco.org/arpa.