Arapahoe County has awarded over $2 million to nonprofit organizations in the region to support their work in serving the county’s at-risk and underserved populations.
After recommendations from county staff based on submitted applications, the Board of County Commissioners selected 12 organizations out of over 50 applicants for the competitive portion of program. In addition, they funded ten agencies through the safety net portion of the program, which annually supports organizations that supplement the county's existing safety net services.
This year's grants range from $8,000 to $400,000, according to the county’s website.
The grants aim to support work in several focus areas including transportation, food assistance, case management, substance abuse treatment, mental and behavioral health treatment, shelter, domestic violence support, affordable housing and employment skills training, according to the website.
“The big thing about Aid to Agencies is it's these (agencies) help with the quick response on things because that's what they're built to do in those categories,” county spokesperson Anders Nelson said.
It is challenging for a county to quickly respond to all community challenges on its own, so funding nonprofits helps the county team up with organizations that are more specialized to respond to community needs, he added.
Doctors Care, a Littleton-based healthcare nonprofit organization, received $14,888 through the competitive grant program.
“Doctors Care is very excited to once again be a recipient of the Aid to Agencies grant,” Elizabeth Hockaday, development and marketing director, said. “For us, it shows true partnership in the community to receive the grant.”
She said the grant money will go towards a new behavioral health advocate on staff and work to address social determinants of health, which is a subset cause of mental health issues.
“Receiving this grant helps to keep Doctors Care as an access point for Littleton and Arapahoe County,” she said. “It's helping us to address the mental health crisis.”
Other competitive grant recipients included Ability Connection, Integrated Family Community Services, Second Chance Center, Inc., Justice and Mercy Legal Aid Center and more.
Through the safety net program, Gateway Domestic Violence Services received $300,000.
The money supports all of the organization's work, including emergency shelter services for those leaving abusive situations, an extended stay program, a court advocacy program and counseling and emotional support services, executive director Karmen Carter said.
"Without (Aid to Agencies) funding, we would really have to look at significantly cutting back on our programming," she said. "They really allow us to be able to continue to look each year at what we can do continue to keep our all of our programs active and moving in important ways in the community."
Other large grant recipients in safety net portion of the program included STRIDE Senior Dental Services with $400,000 and Aurora Mental Health Center — Detox with $280,000.
“There is no way the county can fund every organization to the level of their need every year, but we do try to spread our resources throughout the county on a variety of efforts in such a way that the greatest number of Arapahoe County citizens receives assistance,” District 3 Commissioner Jeff Baker wrote in an email statement.
Nelson said the funds for the program come from a designated portion of the county’s budget each year. This year, the budget included $2.6 million for the Aid to Agencies program and the county used $2,079,500 for grants. The money the county did not use for grants will be shifted to other areas of need, Nelson said.