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How child advocates are leveraging millions in ARPA funds across North Carolina

By: Adam Sotak | April 2022

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“Wow, I didn’t know about this!” 

Last week in New Bern, my colleague Shanda Sumpter and I heard this statement more than once as we discussed the availability of local American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds with community leaders. Meanwhile, decisions are being made every day in towns, cities, counties, and school districts across North Carolina about how to allocate billions of dollars in ARPA funds designated for local use. These funds can – and should – support children and families in your community! 

NC Child and partners are encouraging local advocates to connect with your friends, neighbors, and local elected officials, to speak up for uses of local funds that will most benefit children.  

Local programs funded by ARPA dollars

Here’s how some ARPA funds have already been committed to help kids and families across the state:  

  • Mecklenburg County officials allocated $59 million in ARPA funds to local nonprofits for projects that do everything from addressing homelessness to improving access to early education. $3 million has awarded specifically for child care and early education needs. 
  • New Hanover County is using $1.2 million in ARPA funds to strengthen after-school, mentoring, and tutoring programs including transportation needs. 
  • In Mt. Airy, sixteen local non-profits have applied for funding that will be allocated through the town’s $3.2 million allotment of ARPA funds. 

Leveraging COVID-19 recovery for families

The Biden Administration created the American Rescue Plan to combat the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Americans – including children and families in our state. Child advocates can play a key role highlighting unmet needs in their communities, and promoting the use of local ARPA funds to help prevent further trauma, allocating resources in ways that will have the greatest impact.  

Resources you can use

One of the biggest hurdles to success is just having a basic understanding of how the decision-making process in your area will work (or is already working). The Children’s Funding Project has a great ARPA page focused on early education and other children’s programs. The database allows you to search for specific ways that local governments across the US are using ARPA funds to benefit kids.  

Take action! Use NC Child’s ARPA resource hub to support your local advocacy. It provides lots of basic information about the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), resources from many other agencies, and easy ways to take action.