Beyond federal assistance: State COVID-19 response grants

Begin collecting data now to qualify for federal pass-through funding, community foundation and corporate foundation grants for COVID-19 emergency response


By EMSGrantsHelp Staff

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress on March 27, 2020. Since then, many local governments and public safety agencies had the opportunity to benefit from these measures. This included direct allocations, through the Bureau of Justice Assistance, and funding made available through FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant program with $100 million in the form of grants. Funding notifications have already been made or are underway for most of these programs.

COVID-19 is still impacting major urban centers and rural communities. Now that most federal funding has been allocated, even grant funding, there are still emergency medical service providers searching for opportunities to assist with ongoing response and recovery efforts. Going beyond federal assistance and reviewing states’ available resources can prove to be beneficial when securing funding.

COVID-19 is still impacting major urban centers and rural communities. Going beyond federal assistance and reviewing states’ available resources can prove to be beneficial when securing funding.
COVID-19 is still impacting major urban centers and rural communities. Going beyond federal assistance and reviewing states’ available resources can prove to be beneficial when securing funding. (Photo/Getty Images)

Grant funding: State action

Below is a snapshot of state opportunities to consider:

  • Federal pass-through funding: Even though most CARES Act federal applications are closed, States directly received funding through this Act, as well, and many are choosing to distribute this funding in the form of grants.
    • Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 Crisis Fire Company and Emergency Medical Services Grant Program: Funding made available via the CARES Act through the Office of the State Fire Commissioner. This program is for Fire, Rescue and EMS companies to continue to provide services during the COVID-19 pandemic. This application is open now!
  • States are also responding and making funds available.
    • Ohio’s EMS COVID-19 Grant: The Ohio Department of Public Safety, through the Division of Emergency Medical, Fire, & Transportation Services Board, is preparing for a possible “second wave” and has set aside $425,000 in funding to reimburse for expenditures of PPE. Also, open now!
  • Pass-through funding via the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding. BJA serves Criminal Justice Agencies; however, the BJA CESF program is not limited to only criminal justice activities but for “preventing, preparing for, and responding to the coronavirus.” Many states are still releasing funding and will even have Phase II funding available for long-term response efforts, like Arkansas. Note: The applicant must be a unit of local government.

Foundation grant opportunities

Throughout the pandemic, private/non-profit and corporate foundations have quickly responded to the local communities’ needs.

  • Community foundations: Researching the area’s community foundation is a great place to start. Many have responded by establishing funds in the form of grants to local 501(c)3 organizations to support their response efforts.
  • Corporate foundations: Foundations like the Blue & You Foundation and the ConocoPhillips Corporate Contributions Program have established funds specifically for COVID-19 Response and recovery.

Prepare for funding

When looking to fund a COVID-19 response and/or recovery program, there are a few steps to take to prepare for funding:

  • Become familiar with the state’s funding agencies and which agency will be responsible for administering the grant program. This could be through emergency management, Public Safety, health and human services, or criminal justice agencies.
  • Be sure that registration requirements are addressed. Many states require a SAM.gov registration along with their own state registrations. For instance, Illinois requires GATA Registration.
  • Begin collecting data now! Most grant applications require the applicant to present the need for their program in the narrative section. A need can be demonstrated with the use of local data. For example, has there been an increase in calls as a result of COVID-19?
  • Collaborate with local stakeholders, or partners. Before applying, make note of any local organizations, agencies, or nonprofits that can assist with implementing the program and schedule time to discuss a plan for applying. For instance, are there any other EMS agencies that will benefit from the funding?

Once a grant program to apply to is located, these steps will help to better prepare for the final application submission!

Read next: CARES Act and grant funding: How it will benefit local fire and EMS response

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