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City of Boise to spend $5.5 million in federal dollars on childcare worker payments, grants to small businesses, Treasure Valley YMCA

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The City of Boise is partnering with three different nonprofits to distribute federal COVID-19 relief funds to community members in need.

On Tuesday, Boise City Council approved a series of agreements to work with organizations like the Treasure Valley YMCA, United Way, and the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children to distribute $5.5 million of relief out of the $34 million the city received through the American Rescue Plan Act. These partnerships make up the city’s broader package of programs and projects it’s funding with the money, which include millions in affordable housing initiatives, environmental sustainability initiatives and a plan to add free WIFI to three downtown parks.

Cash for small businesses

Boise is also rebooting its grant program for small businesses, except with a slightly different focus.

Another $2 million in funds will be available in the form of grants for City of Boise small businesses that weren’t able to get any funds during the initial relief bills passed in 2020 and 2021, both from the federal government or any of the city’s programs. The city will partner with the United Way to distribute the grant funds, prioritize businesses and otherwise administer the program.

“We are prioritizing businesses that may have fallen through the cracks during the pandemic during that initial response, and we want to prioritize businesses that haven’t received any pandemic-related funding up to this point,” Chloe Ross, a staffer in Mayor Lauren McLean’s office, said.

Idaho Camera closure
Idaho Camera closed for the last time last year after more than 74 years in business. Photo: Brian Myrick/Idaho Press

For this program, the city is targeting businesses with fewer than 20 employees turning less than $1 million in annual sales. Applicants will be ranked for grants on a variety of factors, like whether the business is in a low-income census tract of the city, if the owner is a person of color, a woman, or a veteran, and what the overall household income of the business owner is.

The City of Boise plans to do a range of outreach to 2,100 qualified businesses, including mailings, social media, and direct contact, with the hopes of having just shy of 500 businesses selected for grant funding.

And unlike the City of Boise’s 2020 grant program for small businesses, where the funds could only be used to reimburse costs directly related to COVID-19 safety, these $4,000 grants can be used for anything related to staffing, operations or even paying down debt accrued during the pandemic.

The application will be available in English, Arabic, Swahili, and Spanish. It will open from November 17 through the end of January.

Childcare worker stipends and a boost for health programs

Boise’s partnership with IAEYC is specifically targeted toward giving childcare workers a leg up.

As BoiseDev previously reported, the city opted to use some of its ARPA funds to give out one-time relief checks to any of Boise’s licensed childcare workers who were registered earlier this year. Ross said the city had 1,245 workers apply and qualify for the program. They should receive a $1,500 relief check by December.

Downtown Boise YMCA
The Boise YMCA Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev

The city initially budgeted $3 million in ARPA funds for the childcare worker initiative, but because not every licensed worker applied to the program, it now only cost $2 million. This leaves the extra $1 million for other initiatives.

Another $1.5 million is earmarked for a one-time donation to the Treasure Valley YMCA in order to support their programming for families impacted by the pandemic with programs focused on youth development, healthy living, social responsibility and other initiatives. The Treasure Valley YMCA is the state’s largest childcare provider, serves residents of Interfaith Sanctuary, the Women’s and Children’s Alliance and has 1,700 residents with chronic diseases enrolled in health intervention programs.

Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel is a BoiseDev reporter focused on the City of Boise, housing, homelessness and growth. Contact her at [email protected] or by phone at (757)705-8066.

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