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City of Providence Seal PVD Rescue Plan

Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA)

Office of Economic Opportunity
Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA)
for the
Hardest Hit Community Organizations Fund

Issue Date: September 12, 2022
Applications Due: October 21, 2022

Download Application Here


The Department of Economic Opportunity (OEO) hereby notifies interested applicants of the availability of funds allocated from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The availability and use of these funds is subject to federal regulations and is further subject to the City of Providence’s policies and program requirements.

The Hardest Hit Community Organizations Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) is designed to provide support to neighborhood-based nonprofit organizations serving populations experiencing disproportionate socio-economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This NOFA aims to build capacity for Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) organizations to better support residents.

The City of Providence is dedicated to supporting residents and the nonprofit organizations that strengthen our communities and support economic recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This NOFA will (1) build capacity and support for BIPOC nonprofit organizations and (2) offer funding for direct relief programs within neighborhoods most disrupted by COVID-19. The goal of this funding opportunity is to strengthen the operational capacity of neighborhood-based, nonprofit organizations within the city of Providence.



Nonprofit organizations offer vital resources to neighborhoods of Providence by providing goods, services, employment opportunities and other forms of support to communities they serve.

Although neighborhood-based nonprofit organizations are often at the frontline of a crisis, they are also deeply impacted by the economic hardships the communities face. The public health crisis and coinciding economic impacts have exacerbated funding strains on residents, businesses and nonprofits, particularly those already most vulnerable. This hardship threatens the sustainability of these organizations at moments when their services are critical. A vibrant city of Providence requires effective community-based organizations and strong, diverse leadership throughout the nonprofit sector.

Many Providence neighborhoods are marked by low-income and poverty and have endured ongoing social and economic challenges that were exacerbated by COVID-19 disruptions. These neighborhoods stand to directly benefit from a community led investment strategy that supports nonprofit organizations that work directly to improve the social, environmental, economic, and educational opportunities of neighborhoods and city residents.

ARPA funds are allocated through this funding opportunity to support the operational capacity of non-profit organizations so that they are able to continue to provide critical social services such as small and minority business assistance, behavioral health services, health care, job training, food pantries and childcare to residents and neighborhoods most disrupted by COVID-19.

The OEO will launch the Providence COVID-19 Hardest Hit Community Organizations Fund with an explicit focus on building the operational capacity of neighborhood-based nonprofit organizations within the city of Providence.



$300,000 is available to be granted to up to twenty (20) BIPOC agencies. The total investment will be apportioned in the following sections. Applicants are welcome to apply for one or both options: (1) Capacity Building (up to $20,000) and/or (2) Direct Relief Programs (up to $10,000). This funding has been allocated through ARPA by the City of Providence to address the areas and populations that are the most disrupted. As such, funding for this NOFA grant program should be used to support one of the following overarching project structures:

  • Capacity Building: $20,000 is available for ten BIPOC organizations ($10,000 per year for two years) for the areas of investment listed below for a total city-wide investment of $200,000.
  • Direct Relief Programs: $10,000 is available for ten BIPOC organizations to deliver direct relief programs to populations and neighborhoods most disrupted by COVID-19 for a total city-wide investment of $100,000.

The City reserves the right to fund, in whole or in part, any, all, or none of the applications submitted by each organization in response to this NOFA.


Capacity Building Application

The Providence COVID-19 Hardest Hit Community Organizations Fund will be administered through the Office of Economic Opportunity. The Fund will provide grants of up to $20,000 to non-profit neighborhood-based organizations to directly assist those organizations in strengthening their operational capacity to deliver critical social services, and also further assist organizations in carrying out their mission.

Areas of investment include:

  • Management/Leadership Development: supporting a leadership training experience for two or more members of the organization’s leadership/ management team.
  • Planning Activities: including organizational assessments, strategic planning, fund development, communications/marketing, or business planning.
  • Board Development: including activities such as leadership training, defining the role of the board, and strengthening governance.
  • Strategic Relationships: providing technical assistance/consultant support to help two or more organizations work through collaboration and strategic restructuring; positioning for merger or affiliation; or business planning for social enterprise.
  • Internal Operations: improving financial management, human resources, or volunteer management.
  • Technology Improvements: improving information technology capacity through upgrades to hardware and software, networking, websites, and staff training to optimize use of technology.
  • Collaboration: matching leadership from successful city and state non-profit organizations with BIPOC organizations to share models of operational innovation, success, and best practices.

Direct Relief Program Application

Additionally, the Hardest Hit Community Organizations Fund will provide grants of up to $10,000 for non-profit neighborhood-based organizations to administer and operate direct relief programs that address the lasting impacts of COVID-19 on the communities that have been hardest hit and disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

Direct Relief Program Focus Areas Include:

  • Food Access and PPE
  • Immigrant Communities
  • Low-Wage Workers
  • Domestic Violence
  • Youth and Children
  • Small Business Relief
  • Workforce Training
  • People with Compromised Immune Systems
  • LGBTQ+ Communities
  • Senior Citizens
  • People Who are Formerly or Currently Incarcerated
  • Support for Asian Americans
  • Healthcare
  • People Who are Homeless or Housing Unstable
  • Community Artist Relief
  • Community Safety


Applicants seeking to apply must be based within the city of Providence and must meet two or more of the criteria detailed in the “Qualification Criteria” section to be funded as a part of this grant application. Applicants must be a qualified BIPOC non-profit organization in positive standing with the City of Providence. All proposals are subject to follow guidelines outlined within the ARPA Sample Contract in addition to the ARPA Handbook: City of Providence SLFRF Manual.

Qualification as a part of this grant will be based on the following  factors:

Qualification Criteria:

  1. Strong community standing with history of providing social and/or direct relief services within Providence, Rhode Island Qualified Census Tracts as defined in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
  2. Established history of managing programs and initiatives of similar size and bandwidth.
  3. Organizational ability and overall capacity to provide supportive social services within Providence or related underserved communities.
  4. Clearly defined funding plan completed as a part of this application.


INELIGIBLE USES                                                                                               

Funds available through the City of Providence Hardest Hit Community Organizations NOFA cannot be used for or as:

  1. Organizations that are not located within or serving Qualified Census Tracts.
  2. Private businesses or companies.
  3. A deposit into pension funds.
  4. A contribution of matching funds toward other federal grants.
  5. Debt servicing, replenishing financial reserves, or satisfying settlements and judgments.
  6. This funding cannot be used to supplant other programming funds. Existing funds for a project cannot be replaced by funds granted through this NOFA.
  7. Projects that are politically driven or affiliated.



The Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) offers this Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) on September 12, 2022, for interested non-profit organizations to apply. OEO will keep the NOFA open until October 21, 2022 to build city-wide awareness of the relief fund to ensure maximum reach to organizations that serve the target communities. Any application materials submitted outside of the aforementioned timeframe will not be accepted or reviewed.

OEO will host application workshops between September 12, 2022, and October 21, 2022, in target areas and neighborhoods that have been hardest hit to answer questions about the NOFA application and process. Participation in one of these workshops is highly recommended, but not mandatory. 

Listen to our recorded workshops:


Q1. Can two organizations apply together as a team?
A1. Yes, organizations can apply together as a team. However, the grant per application shall not exceed more than $30,000. Applicants are encouraged to detail the scope of the partnership in the application responses.

Q2. Is it permissible to apply for other City funds in addition to the capacity building or direct relief program funds?
A2. Yes, applicants can apply for other City funds while receiving these funds. This fund is meant to supplement organizational efforts by building organizational and supportive capacity.

Q3. Is this program for BIPOC-led or BIPOC-serving organizations?
A3. Both are eligible under ARPA guidelines. This program is targeted to BIPOC-led Providence organizations or organizations whose work impacts BIPOC populations and residents along qualified census tracts (QCTs).

Q4. What is the difference between leveraged funding and Hardest Hit Community Organizations (HHCO) funding?
A4. Leveraged Funding refers to funds from other sources, beyond the HHCO funding, that will help build or support the proposed program. Please note on the application in the Leveraged Funding section if your project will be using several funding sources.

Q5. If grant applicants apply for the capacity building grant and the direct relief program grant, will they be evaluated in conjunction or separately?
A5. The two applications will be evaluated separately for each project’s value. The applicants may receive funding through both types of grant or just one, or the project may not be selected for funding through either grant.

Q6. The program/ project description and program/ project type have similar asks. Can we fold in our answers in both? Should we add different details in each part?
A6. It is okay to repeat things if needed. The program/project description is to get a sense of the program details and COVID impact and the program/ project type is to get a sense of the program type and how it relates to the community.

Q7. How long should each application section be?
A7. There is no specific required length; the important thing is to articulate your point and meet the criteria in the rubric (located at the bottom of the application).

Q8. Please expand on what qualifies as direct relief.
A8. The topics for direct relief include the following:
·       Food Access and PPE
·       Immigrant Communities
·       Low-Wage Workers
·       Domestic Violence
·       Youth and Children
·       Small Business Relief
·       Workforce Training
·       People with Compromised Immune Systems
·       LGBTQ+ Communities
·       Senior Citizens
·       People Who are Formerly or Currently Incarcerated
·       Support for Asian Americans
·       Healthcare
·       People Who are Homeless or Housing Unstable
·       Community Artist Relief
·       Community Safety

Q9: Can direct relief be used for money given directly to person/people (i.e. rent money relief)?
A9 :Yes. Applicants can propose a program that requires direct payments in the direct relief application. A direct relief program cannot be proposed for the capacity building program.

Q10: Are the small grassroots organizations eligible under these criteria?
A10. Yes, we encourage all organizations to apply to help build their capacity. Please provide a plan for the funding you are requesting through this NOFA, including the projects for which you plan to use the funds. If you are a very new grassroots organization with no history of projects, please explain this in your application and what your future plans are.

Q11. What is the funding source for this program?
A11. The funds for this program originate from the Providence American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) budget. For more information on this budget, please click here.

Q12: What will reporting for this look like?
A12: ARPA requires monthly reporting to the U.S. Treasury. All selected grantees will need to provide reporting monthly, but the duration of the reporting period depends on the length of the project proposed. The goal is to understand the full impact of these funds on your organization.

Q13: Will the Mayor of Providence and Providence City Council delay the obligation of the funds?
A13: No.

Q14: Can someone with formal proposal writing experience write on behalf of an organization? Will this detract from the score?
A14: Yes, someone with formal proposal writing experience can write the proposal on behalf of the organization. This will not affect the score.

Q15: Can you apply without a DUNS number?
A15: A DUNS number is a federal ARPA requirement for this program. If you do not have a DUNS number, please contact Jessie Ernster at

Q16: Does the capacity building funding have to be set as a two year, 10k/year funding?
A16: No, the City can either provide $20,000 one time in the first year or $10,000 each year for two years, depending on the program’s needs. The length of the funding will be based on the proposed project or program.

Q17: If we have a general population (i.e. youth in Providence) that we serve, can we still apply without providing direct analytics of the population falling within qualified census tracts?
A17: Yes. However, please show an overview of the target audience and communities that you plan to reach or currently serve within your proposal.

Q18: Can funds be used for technology upgrades?
A18: Yes.

Q19: Can we use the funding to increase salaries and overall staffing?
A19: Yes. Please note in your application how the salary increases would help to build the capacity of the organization to serve the community.

Completed applications received by October 21, 2022 will be screened in order to determine whether the Application meets minimum threshold eligibility requirements. City staff will evaluate each complete and eligible application according to the priorities identified herein.


Submitted applications determined to be eligible under the regulations will be further evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Number of Clients Directly Served
  • Priority for Equity and Access
  • Targeting Areas of Concentrated Poverty and Priority Neighborhoods
  • Agency Capacity and Staff Expertise for Project
NOFA Open September 12, 2022
Community Workshop(s) September 12, 2022 – October 21, 2022
Final Date for Questions October 7, 2022
Q&A Posted Online October 10, 2022
Application Submission Deadline October 21, 2022
Awards Announced November 7, 2022
Grant Agreement Signed November 11, 2022


Funding is limited. Applications that meet all of the NOFA’s general guidelines and requirements may not necessarily receive an award. OEO may recommend funding a project or service for the full amount requested, or less than the full amount, or not at all. There are no requirements or expectations that OEO must award all or any funds through the NOFA process.

OEO reserves the right to postpone or cancel this NOFA, if it deems it to be in the best interests of OEO to do so. OEO reserves the right to waive any technical or formal errors or omissions, and to reject any and all proposals, or to award contracts, either in part or in whole, if deemed to be in the best interests of OEO.

Successful applicants shall be in complete compliance with all of the specifications, terms and conditions of the proposal. OEO shall have the right to inspect the facilities and equipment of the successful applicant to ensure such compliance. OEO shall not be liable for any costs incurred in the preparation of proposals or for any work performed in connection therein.

Application reviews and awards are contingent upon applicants being current to the City on any loan, contractual, or tax obligation as due, or with any rule, regulation, or provision on existing or past City contracts.



Recipients of ARPA funds are subject to required federal contract provisions. Required conditions may be found in Attachment A: Sample City of Providence ARPA Agreement which also includes an ARPA Exhibit: ARPA Handbook – City of Providence SLFRF Manual. These conditions are subject to change.

Download Application Here