Worthington's new grant program will distribute an additional $100,000 to community

Stephen Borgna
ThisWeek group
Executive director Nick Linkenhoker assembles an outdoor heater to help keep volunteers warm at the Worthington Resource Pantry on Dec. 16. The food pantry is one of the grant recipients in a new Worthington program that uses federal CARES Act funding.

In addition to the city's annual community-grant program, Worthington City Council has earmarked an additional $100,000 to distribute to local charitable not-for-profits because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Council approved a resolution Dec. 14 that enacted the second grant program, which was made possible through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. The CARES Act is a $2.2 trillion economic-stimulus package enacted by the federal government in March in response to the pandemic.

Assistant City Manager Robyn Stewart said the CARES Act money is not directly funding the grants, but it allows the city to allocate financial resources to the grant program after it used CARES Act money for some operational expenses. 

The funds available for the new grant program total $100,000. The program was developed in response to Worthington officials' analysis of data from a survey seeking to determine how the pandemic has affected the community.

The city has cleared $72,525 to be distributed in nine grants to nine not-for-profit organizations the week of Dec. 14, Stewart said.

David McCorkle, the city's economic-development manager, previously told ThisWeek that in reference to this grant program, local not-for-profit organizations differ from nonprofits in that they focus on core missions surrounding physical and mental well-being, food insecurities and other issues related to overall community welfare.

Related story:Coronavirus survey provides backdrop to grant programs

Two other organizations, Jewish Family Services and Worthington C.A.R.E.S. Coalition, are slated to receive grants that would not exceed $5,000 and $22,475, respectively, pending further documentation, according to council's resolution.  

Council President Bonnie Michael said the two organizations requested more funding than the grant-review committee believed was correct to allocate, so the committee wants to determine what services they would provide if allocated the amounts listed.

The resolution said council gave City Manager Matt Greeson and the grant-review committee authority to allocate funds to the two organizations upon receipt of the documentation, "if found to be sufficient and appropriate."

Michael said council wanted to identify organizations that could help serve the public and alleviate the fallout from the pandemic when awarding grants.

“These are all programs that are going to help (with) mental-health services, food-insecurity services,” Michael said. “We were trying to find which not-for-profit program could reach the most people in trying to bring help in this time of need with the COVID pandemic.”

The Worthington Resource Pantry, 6700 Huntley Road, is one of the grant recipients under the new program. The food pantry was approved for $4,000. 

Related story:Coronavirus-stretched Worthington Resource Pantry seeks leg up with virtual 5K

The Worthington Resource Pantry receives grant money on an annual basis from the city, according to Nick Linkenhoker, executive director of the food pantry.

This year’s funding will be used toward operating expenses for providing food for visitors, he said. 

“The money is allocated to folks in the Worthington area, providing fresh healthy food and resources to folks in this community to people who need it because they lost a job, because of a health crisis or because they need a little extra boost at the end of the month,” Linkenhoker said. “We use that money to make sure that when somebody goes into their kitchen, there’s food there for them.” 

Volunteer Zach Lamparyk sorts and checks expiration dates on donated food at the Worthington Resource Pantry on Dec. 16. The food pantry is one of the grant recipients in a new Worthington program that uses federal CARES Act funding.

Linkenhoker said the Worthington Resource Pantry, which has an annual operating budget of approximately $1,000,000, would use the $4,000 grant to cover about 4,000 people and 4,000 visits to the pantry. 

The other eight organizations approved for the new grant program are: 

• I Am Boundless – $16,940

• Family Mentor Foundation – $10,000

• LifeCare Alliance – $6,000

• The National Church Residences Foundation – $5,000

• Neighborhood Bridges – $15,000

• NNEMAP Food Pantry – $7,000

• North Community Counseling Center – $6,085

• Worthington-Linworth Kiwanis – $2,500

Meanwhile, council also discussed its regular annual grant program Dec. 14 and plans to make applications available in the coming weeks, with grants expected to be available in the first quarter of 2021, according to Stewart.

The city has earmarked $37,500 in its annual operating budget for this program. “Larger dollar amounts” will be awarded to the  Peggy R. McConnell Arts Center of Worthington, the Worthington Partnership and the Worthington Historical Society, according to an associated council resolution, with specific amounts to be determined in the first quarter after applications are reviewed.

Stewart said the annual grant program has three priorities.

“(The program’s priorities are to provide) basic human necessities, such as provision of food and/or clothing for people in need, mental-health services and/or community counseling to assist people with mental or social health issues, (and) improvement of the Worthington community,” she said in an email.

sborgna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSteve