COVID relief grants open to CA small nonprofits, businesses through June

While COVID relief grants have phased down nationwide since the end of the federal health emergency declaration, California has announced a new one.

Through June 30, small nonprofits and businesses with 26 to 49 employees in 2021 or 2022, and who paid COVID sick leave, are eligible for a grant ranging from $5K to $50K through the state’s Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (SPSL) program, outreach partner CalNonprofits has announced.

The program, created by California Assembly Bill 152 and administered through the California Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA), offers grants funded to match sick leave provided, on small businesses’ payroll records, between January 1, 2022 and December 31, 2022. Eligible businesses and nonprofits must have a physical presence in California.

Robert Gibbons, director of education and advocacy at CalNonprofits, said the bill “was a tailwind piece of legislation for COVID aid toward the end of the pandemic. We were very involved in advocating for this legislation to include small nonprofits, who were previously not given the opportunity to apply for state-reimbursed grants. This issue has become cumbersome in the sense that small nonprofits now have to go back and identify their COVID sick leave with payroll providers and apply for funds, and we’re here to make that process as easy as possible.”

Since being informed in very late May that small nonprofits would be eligible for SPSL alongside other businesses, Gibbons has spearheaded CalNonprofits’ advocacy work at the community and legislative level in collaboration with the small business lending platform Lendistry, which the state chose to execute the program and vet applicants.

“One of the most potentially confusing aspects of the grant application for small businesses is employee headcount, given that it shifted drastically for many companies during the pandemic,” he added.

The challenges that may arise during the SPSL filing process do not owe to a lack of interest on the part of nonprofits — “the Lendistry folks were impressed to see that our webinars have turned out more than three times the numbers of small businesses,” said Gibbons — but rather to the limited bandwidth of many small nonprofits.

“That’s where CalNonprofits comes in,” he continued. “Call us, email us, and we will advocate on your behalf as the go-between between you and your payroll provider.”

“CalNonprofits is the only partner working with Lendistry in California to identify eligible nonprofits, and advocate for them through the application process. This sets a precedent for more inclusivity with the way that we think about helping nonprofits in the context of state legislation,” Gibbons added.

An FAQ page for SPSL written by CalNonprofits and geared specifically toward nonprofit applicants is available here.

An informational webinar on the grant program, hosted by CalOSBA, will take place on Monday, June 26 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m., PST. The recording of a previous webinar, livestreamed on June 12, is available here.

Eligibility requirements, an application guide, FAQs, and an application portal for the program is available at the California SPSL website. (Selen Ozturk/Ethnic Media Services)

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