Nonprofit advocates call for $100M state investment into their infrastructure

Source: NYN First Read

Advocates are calling on New York state to make a recurring $100 million investment into a program that allows nonprofits to access funds for infrastructure projects as part of this year’s budget.

Established in 2015, the Nonprofit Infrastructure Capital Investment Program allows nonprofits to apply for grants to help them make technological upgrades, renovate or expand spaces used for programming, take on accessibility projects and improve energy efficiency. The state pitched in a total of $120 million over the course of its first three years, allowing it to make grants to 269 nonprofits. But since fiscal year 2018, there hasn’t been any additional financial support for it, which is why, over the past two years, nonprofit leaders have pushed for the funding boost. That request is likely to go unfulfilled this year as well, given that the state faces a $6.1 billion budget gap. 

“Because nonprofits operate on a really tight budget, it’s hard to put money aside for a rainy-day fund,” Michelle Jackson, acting executive director of the Human Services Council, told NYN Media. “It’s also very hard to fundraise for things like a new roof or generator because people want to donate money to programs, and not the physical infrastructure or technology needs of a nonprofit.” She noted that the Nonprofit Infrastructure Capital Investment Program has drawn interest from across the spectrum – 635 organizations in total have applied for its grants. 

“The Nonprofit Infrastructure Capital Investment Program is a competitive program that has successfully directed capital funding to help nonprofit human services organizations across New York State improve their quality, efficiency, and accessibility, and strengthen New York’s social infrastructure,” said David Perritano, public information officer at the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, which administers the program, in a statement. 

VISIONS/Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired has benefited from a $1 million grant through the program to help build its vocational and rehabilitation center in Rockland County.

“That $1 million was really essential in us being able to provide a service that doesn’t exist anywhere else in New York state,” Nancy Miller, the nonprofit’s executive director and CEO, told NYN Media. Applying for that funding was “extremely difficult,” she added. “We were very careful to look at what was expected from VISIONS, and every time we would submit what we thought was the last piece of paperwork, something else would come up, some other verification or requirement or legal document.”