EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The El Paso County Commissioners Court approved providing $9.7 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for El Paso non-profits and local service entities that serve the community through resilience programming and projects.

The County received 58 applications for a total requested amount of $31.6 million. The awards approved Monday – with a minimum of $100,848 and a maximum of $1 million – will go to 19 organizations.

The County received $163 million in American Rescue Plan funds, which are to be used for purposes obligated to no later than Dec. 31, 2024. Commissioners previously created an ARPA portfolio of County projects in late October 2021, which included money set aside for community projects.

However, there was no process for informing organizations or selecting awardees. Commissioner David Stout argued that the County must let all community organizations know of the opportunity, and that the process needed to be transparent and inclusive.   

As a result, County staff worked with professional grant-makers to develop criteria and procedures for informing public-service organizations. This included a series of meetings, at least one in each precinct, to provide information and outreach.

“I wanted to open the process, to promote it and to apply the opportunity fairly,” Stout said. “The Court agreed, and staff worked hard to make it happen. I am hopeful that this nearly $10 million helps organizations do things to build community resilience in a way they otherwise would not be able to.”  

The projects and programs awarded must address community needs, which were assessed using such criteria as socioeconomic status, household composition and disability, minority status and language, and housing type and transportation.

Following the community meeting series, Commissioners Court provided direction to staff in April. In May, the County published the final call for applications, called a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO). The deadline for this NOFO closed in June, and applications were reviewed by an external review team in July. Finalists were internally vetted in August, County staff presented the award recommendations on Monday, Sept. 26, and Commissioners approved the awards Monday.