As Brookline invest 2021 ARPA funding into the community to remedy the negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, BCF is pleased to share an overview of ARPA, community engagement opportunities, and information about how grant seekers can apply for funding.

In 2021, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), an expansive $1.9 trillion package to help cope with the economic and public health fallout of the pandemic and build a bridge to a strong and more equitable economic recovery. The plan includes direct financial assistance to families and individuals, infrastructure investments, and pandemic response. As part of this expansive effort, the plan provides more than $350 billion in direct relief to state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments in their pandemic rescue and recovery efforts through a substantial infusion of resources.

You can learn more about ARPA on the Brookline OpenGov website.

The Town of Brookline will receive ~43 million in ARPA funds (~$32 million in federal funds and ~$11 million from Norfolk County) to remedy COVID-19’s impact on our community.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury released guidance with information about eligible and ineligible uses, allocations, compliance, and reporting requirements. Local governments will receive federal funds in two distributions, with 50% provided in May 2021 and the balance delivered approximately 12 months later. Brookline has already received ~$16 million of its federal ARPA allocation. All funds must be obligated by December 31, 2024.

ARPA funds provide a substantial infusion of resources to meet pandemic response needs and rebuild a stronger, and more equitable economy as the country recovers. Within the following four (4) overall categories, the Town of Brookline has broad flexibility to decide how best to use this funding to meet the needs of the community:

  1. Public Health/Negative Economic Impacts: To respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency or its negative economic impacts
  2. Premium Pay (Essential Workers): To respond to workers performing essential work during the COVID-19 public health emergency by providing premium pay to such eligible workers of the recipient, or by providing grants to eligible employers that have eligible workers who performed essential work;
  3. Revenue Loss/Government Services: For the provision of government services, to the extent of the reduction in revenue of such recipient due to the COVID–19 public health emergency, relative to revenues collected in the most recent full fiscal year of the recipient prior to the emergency; and
  4. Investments in Water, Sewer, and Broadband: To make necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.

For further information on eligible uses, refer to the Compliance and Reporting Guidance.

State and local governments could transfer funds to private nonprofit groups, public benefit corporations involved in passenger or cargo transportation, and special-purpose units of state or local governments.

$350 billion will be passed down to states, local governments, and tribal governments. To ensure funding responds to the wide range of community needs and advances COVID-19 recovery, the federal government has given local jurisdictions discretion in how to spend ARPA funds. Brookline will receive ~$43 million.

While ARPA funds can be used for broad purposes, the federal government encourages local governments to “take time and careful consideration” of how the funds will be used to address rescue efforts and lead to recovery. Gathering community input on key issues and opportunities, especially from community members who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and/or historically underrepresented, will be crucial to effectively disbursing ARPA funding locally so that these transformative investments match real community needs. A robust community engagement process can also help increase equity, access and accountability in spending decisions and further alignment with community members’ priorities.

To support gathering community input and identifying shared priorities for investing ARPA funding, BCF will host active listening sessions and community engagement events from October 2021 – December 2021 to collect diverse perspectives on:

  • How has COVID-19 impacted the Brookline community?
  • Where are there barriers to equitable recovery and rebuilding locally?
  • What are opportunities for transformative investments we can make as a community?

BCF will also work with various community partners to host focus groups — opportunities to bring small groups of individuals together through a focused discussion to inform the Town of Brookline’s ARPA priority setting.

BCF will also host an online survey to collect input from community members who are unable to attend events.

After events have concluded and the survey has closed, BCF will synthesize community feedback and publish a report detailing what efforts and investments community members believe would have the greatest positive impact on fostering a robust and equitable recovery in Brookline.

Yes! Brookline’s Select Board is committed to hearing our community’s input before making significant funding allocations. Brookline will also receive a second round of funding in 2022, and funds do not have to be allocated until the end of 2024, so our community does not have to rush through this process.

After the community engagement events have concluded and the survey has closed, BCF will create a report detailing key themes, needs, and recommendations identified by community members during this process. The report will present this information in an aggregate, anonymized format. No individuals or groups will be named or identified.

BCF will present this report to the Select Board following its completion, and will publish the report on our website where it will be free and accessible to community members.

The Town of Brookline has a dedicated webpage for ARPA information and applications.

All applications for ARPA funding must be submitted through the OpenGov grant application system. At this time, this is the only way to formally submit an application for consideration.

The Brookline Community Foundation will offer optional technical assistance (TA) opportunities in the coming months to support applicants as they prepare to develop and submit their applications. We will share more information and session dates later this year.

The Town of Brookline’s Select Board will review applications and determine funding decisions.

The Select Board has expressed the importance of reviewing community feedback before making significant decisions regarding ARPA funding allocations.

BCF will share the report detailing ideas and priorities identified by community members during this community engagement process with the Select Board in early 2022, and will make that report publicly available on our website.