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September 22, 2022

In 2021, we redesigned our website, which included embedding Grassroots. Planted into one seamless experience. Please head to to read our latest posts. We look forward to seeing you there!

Things I Learned About Grants While Reading Them

January 20, 2022

When I first signed up to review grants for a Community Foundation, my motives were purely selfish. I thought reading other people’s applications would make me a stronger grant writer. And I was right! Nothing has been more instructive to my grant writing than reviewing grants written by others. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way that might help you write your next proposal.

Answer the Question They Asked!

Topic drift is a serious problem in grant narratives. I’ve seen this in my own work, as well as grants I’ve read. When given a broad or multi-part question, it is easy to meander away from what was asked and get a little too tangential. When editing your draft make sure to ask yourself—did I answer the question they asked?

But How Are You Going to Spend the Money? 

I’ve reviewed grant proposals that do an amazing job of explaining the need in their community, the important work their organization is doing, and the wonderful collaborations that they have fostered to solve big problems, but fall short when answering the most important question in grantmaking: “How are you going to spend the money we give you?” Make sure your budget is balanced and explain how the funding will be used in your narrative. (For more advice on crafting your budget see our previous post, “But First Build Your Budget.”)

How Valuable Are Your Services to the Community? 

When reviewing grants for a very small, rural community without a lot of funds to give out in each grant cycle, I came across the occasional organization I felt should probably have thought twice about applying for funding. Typically, these applications came from very large, well-funded organizations, based in cities far from the rural community that they claimed to help. Their plans to use the community foundation’s finite funds often included paying someone from the big city’s salary, gas, or hotel to visit the rural community, or mailing flyers and brochures to people residing in the rural community. These applications were not nearly as compelling as the applications from organizations based in the rural community, providing services directly to the people living there on a daily basis. Take a hard look at the work you are doing and make sure it really serves the community’s needs before you apply.

Grant Reviewers Are Tired!

Most grant reviewers are volunteers. Some are paid a small stipend for their work, but many do it gratis on their own time because they care about their communities and want to help (and a few others, like me, are selfishly trying to improve their own writing skills). Additionally, a grant reviewer generally reads between three and up to 20 grants per session. This means that the level of time and attention your grant application gets from your panel of readers can vary widely. Some reviewers will print out a hard copy of your narrative and read every single word in a silent, well-lit room with a red pen in hand. Others may be more interested in just understanding broad strokes and sometimes skim grants for what seem to be the important details.

Your job, as the grant writer, is to be as clear and concise as possible to ensure that – regardless of whichever type of reader your proposal ends up in front of – anyone will understand your program, the need, and your budget. Consider these strategies to help craft an easily digestible proposal:

  • Repeating the question in your answer is a nice way to leave breadcrumbs for your reader to follow. A detail-focused reader will underline the point and a distracted reader can’t miss it!
  • Leave out extraneous details—these can raise questions you didn’t intend in a panel discussion or confuse a reader who isn’t paying close attention.
  • Use bullets, headers, bolding, underlining and other visual cues strategically. You’re not writing a mystery novel; don’t make a grant reader work to understand your proposal. (For more tips on how to write a compelling narrative check out our post, “How Can Hollywood Help You Write a Winning Proposal?”)

If you have the time and energy, I highly recommend volunteering to serve on a grant panel. It’s a great way to learn about your community and hone your craft. Bonus: if you meet in-person, they usually give you snacks! However, if you meet virtually, you don’t have to wear shoes – so, really, it’s a win-win either way!

Spark Joy! Kondoize Your Grant Proposals

December 14, 2021

Despite every crisp greeting card’s cheery promise of joy this season, the holidays can feel stressful as a grant professional. As end-of-year reports and funding requests pile onto annual appeals and holiday shopping lists, the last thing we (or our reviewers) need is to be overwhelmed by a sloppy grant proposal. Instead, we strive for clear proposals that inform and inspire—proposals that spark joy.

Marie Kondo is the master of extracting joy from overwhelm. Like many Netflixers around New Year’s 2019, I became infatuated with the declutter queen and her genius plan to rid America’s homes of anything and everything that does not “spark joy.” As a compulsive organizer, I fancy myself to be the Marie Kondo of grants, and few things in life bring me greater satisfaction than writing and reading text that is clear, tidy, and yes—joyful!

When used thoughtfully, the Kondo mindset of cleaning out the clutter can be helpful in crafting clear, concise grant proposals. A few of my favorite Kondoizing tips are listed below.

Carefully cut information that isn’t serving you or your reviewers.

As grant professionals, we are always working to extract precious details from program staff to give reviewers a full picture of the work to be funded. In the words of grant royalty Cheryl Kester, “More detailed proposals get funded.”

Yet tight length limits often leave us with the tough decision of which details are important, and which to leave out. Aly’s brilliant blog post “Of Chainsaws and Bonsai Sheers” is a helpful (and hilarious) read if you’re looking to trim your proposal. When you’ve exhausted all your tricks, it’s time to consider whether any content is worth leaving out. Leave in information that is explicitly requested in the proposal guidance, worth points (if a scoring rubric is provided), and/or critical to understanding the program. Everything else is optional and could even be cluttering your proposal!

Leave out any jargon that is not explained, confusing language internal to your organization, details that place tight limitations on program staff, and other information that does not meet grant criteria, earn you points, and promote understanding. You may be proud of the catchy title your board came up with for your organization’s five-year strategy, but if it doesn’t mean something to the reviewer, it’s likely not worth including. (If you must include, be sure it’s fully explained!)

Replace fiddly constructions with strong verbs.

Fed up with the Foreign Office secretary’s rigid grammar corrections, Winston Churchill supposedly protested, “This is the kind of pedantic nonsense up with which I will not put!”

Let’s be honest: verb-preposition combos are almost always clunky no matter how you order them. My solution? Avoid them. Instead, use strong verbs to replace multiple words:

  • Instead of “put up with,” use “tolerate.”
  • Instead of “take the place of,” use “replace.”
  • Instead of “turns into,” use “becomes.”

Use your thesaurus! can typically offer synonyms for common constructions. This is my secret weapon. I highly recommend you start using these strong verbs—you’ll be amazed at how much smarter, clearer, and more concise your writing is with this one simple trick.

“Don’t use a five-dollar word when a fifty-cent word will do.” (Mark Twain)

This tip is the antidote to the last one. Yes, use strong vocabulary when it promotes clarity, but don’t waste your reviewer’s time with trying to sound academic or elevated. Think about it—the purpose of writing is to communicate. Pedantic language can make your meaning harder to understand, especially considering that the average American reads at only the 7th– to 8th-grade level. We like to think of our reviewers as being above average, but still, think about all the proposals they have to wade through! Take it easy on them, simplifying language when possible.

Decide when to include details that spark joy.

When deciding what to leave in and what to cut, consider examples, client stories/anecdotes, quotes, or other details that elicit an emotional response, help reviewers picture your program, and make your proposal more memorable. The funder’s style, proposal guidance, and review team (mothers or scientists?) should play a role in deciding when to include these little touches.

For example (see what I did there?), we recently wrote a proposal to a hunger relief funder, helping feed families experiencing homelessness. Length limits were tight. Should we mention that the program provides a small cake to each child on their birthday? On one hand, cakes do not really alleviate hunger and could even be seen as frivolous, and we weren’t requesting funding specifically for that component of the program. On the other hand, birthday cakes are such a beautiful and central part of the organization’s philosophy to not only fulfill families’ basic needs but also promote dignity. Plus, this funder seemed to be relatively touchy-feely, rather than purely interested in metrics. That mental image of the kid with the birthday cake would hopefully be etched in reviewers’ brains.

We made some formatting changes (thank you, bullet points!) to save room for cake, and the proposal was funded.


And so, I leave you with this wintery blessing: may these tools infuse a bit of joy into your workday, tame the clutter, and focus on what’s truly important this season. Whether it’s making sure families have enough to eat over the holidays, providing educational activities to keep kids’ minds active during winter break, or creating art to inspire, may your organization’s work shine through a proposal that is clear and bright.

Contact: Laurel Meister Schmuck, Resource Development Officer II,

Lifting Up the Voices That Matter

November 12, 2021

Grant writing is my antidote to the daily news. Stories about crime, violence, and politics often funnel my mind into a gray place of frustration, fear, and anger. But grant writing brings me back by allowing me to focus on the many, often under the radar, acts of heroism made daily by non-profit organizations and the community. Preparing proposals to seek funding for this work requires deep dives into the background and thinking—the innovation, creativity, and genius behind this work. The slow work to create systemic change in education equity may not earn a sound bite on the evening news. But it is inspiring. It is rejuvenating. And I am proud to play a small part in this work.   

Yet, even in writing about the assets of the community, grant applications typically begin with the Needs Statement. What is the problem we are working to change? Like the news, this section invites hair-raising figures that go back to those dark places—the steep increases in crime rates, persistently low graduation rates, high unemployment figures. We work to paint a picture of the drastic need that funding will address. But how do we do this in a way that doesn’t leave behind the community’s voice, hope—and humanity?

Three of us from The Grant Plant had the opportunity to attend the Grant Professionals Association annual conference last week. Keynote speaker Kia Jarmon, a leader in the intersection of community, culture, crisis, and communication, helped to bring some of this thinking to the surface with a stark question: “Based on the stories I tell in my work, am I contributing to the help or harm of the community we serve?” 

How do we ensure our grant narratives are contributing to the deeper understanding of a community—not just singly focused on bringing in much-needed funding? Jarmon’s talk, along with reflection with my colleagues and online sources* have helped to inform the following ideas: 

  • Focus on the assets. Rather than looking at communities as a list of needs to be fixed, how do we instead use the Needs Statement to highlight the assets in the community that funding will help to tap; the people who are on the ground making their own change? Deficits feel helpless and huge. Assets feel empowering and possible. Write a needs statement that you would be proud for the grantee community to read. 
  • Describe a community the way they describe themselves. Highlight the good that is happening, and the support that is needed to leverage this good for more good. Use the terms the community has worked diligently to define. For example, does a client refer to themselves as Indigenous, Native American, or American Indian? Learn what terms they have already thought deeply about, and put their voice forward to the funder. Do not be unfairly critical by defining a community only in terms of dropout rates, crime, or poverty. These things are real challenges, but they are only part of the story.
  • Educate the funder. We aren’t providing a service to “others.” We are serving our own community; we are part of the society who will benefit from the funding. The funder is invited into this work, not as an anonymous investor, but as a partner. While the funder may use a term such as “client” in their RFP, take the opportunity to explain that we instead choose to refer to “relatives,” those with whom we are inextricably linked. Use stories and quotes from the community members themselves so that they can directly narrate the needs and the visioning for solutions. 
  • Words matter. Be careful about using buzzwords and cliches. You might be reinforcing a stereotype, and “otherness.” If you mean to say black youth, low-income youth, LGBTQ+ youth, or youth who have dropped out of school, state this. Don’t assume that these populations and funders agree on what it means to be “marginalized,” which leaves space for a reader to apply his or her own stereotypes. Empower the community you are writing for by thoughtfully and accurately defining them. Help the funder to “see” them.
  • Don’t sugarcoat. Writing with an asset-based voice doesn’t mean you avoid the challenges. It just means that the grant proposal helps the funder to see the whole picture, with a focus on the possibility offered by the group applying for funding, the assets they bring to the work, and how funding will make a real, positive change. This work is led by the community and for the community, rather than done “to” the community. Jarmon’s keynote asked the question, “How many times is the staff or the organization the ‘savior’ in the story? Do people need to be saved, or do they want the resources to lead their own saving?”
  • Positive outcomes. Along with reducing drop out (a shorter-term goal), we can work to increase graduation (a longer-term goal). Along with reducing suicide (a longer-term goal), we can increase Social Emotional Learning and a sense of confidence and persistence among youth (a shorter-term goal). Real impact takes time, and it is important our metrics demonstrate small changes we are working on now, that will help the progress toward bigger, system-level goals. Invite a funder into the long-term vision.

“History has the ability to cement us, or invisibilize us,” Jarmon stated. “Which stories will you repeat? What will you forget? What will you revise?” Words have power, and the work of grant writing can illuminate the fuller, whole-picture narrative. It gives us the privilege—and the responsibility—of entering into a story and an area of work, drawing to the surface the wisdom and knowledge of a community that has been able to identify areas they want to change, and the ideas and expertise and hope that they’ve cultivated through lived experience. That is why grant writing is my antidote to the daily news. It gives me the vantage to see the real, sustainable change that is being made all around us, and challenges me to tell that story honestly and wholly. That is inspiring. 

*Sources for inspiration:

“Words Matter: Amplifying the Voices Through an Asset Based Approach,” sourced from

Kia Jarmon,

Azel-Lute, Miriam, “The Opposite of Deficit-Based Language Isn’t Asset-Based Language. It’s Truth-Telling,” Nov. 12, 2019, sourced from

“The HERE to HERE Language Guide: A Resource for Using Asset-Based Language with Young People,” July 2020, sourced from

Cecily Peterson, Senior Resource Development Officer.

Now Hiring an Operations Manager

August 2, 2021

We work with some of the most inspiring and resourceful organizations in New Mexico (and beyond). Team TGP embraces our mission to provide superior and affordable resource development services that assist tax-exempt organizations in enhancing the quality of life for their constituencies.

The Operations Manager will support The Grant Plant’s core activities of grant writing, research, and report writing for tax-exempt organizations in New Mexico and throughout the country.

The Grant Plant values Integrity, Innovation, Accountability, Collaboration, Humor, Results, Compassion, and Risk-Taking. If you share these values and are looking for an opportunity that offers a meaningful contribution to communities’ quality of life, we’re looking for you.

Position Summary:

Primary responsibilities include executive and team support functions, administrative tasks, office management and reception, and event/meeting planning and coordination. The qualified individual must be highly dependable with the ability to be proactive as well as to take direction; have strong individual drive and self-motivation; be detail-oriented, organized, and efficient, with strong time management skills; have a sense of humor, grace under pressure, and an adaptable personality; be a pragmatic and resourceful problem solver and a friendly and professional communicator; have the ability to manage multiple priorities and meet or beat deadlines with no errors; be tech-savvy and quick to learn new concepts; and have the ability to anticipate the needs of others coupled with a strong desire to serve. Previous experience will demonstrate a positive employment history, clean background, and glowing references. Work is performed under the direction of the Leadership Team.

This position is based in Albuquerque, NM. Due to the responsibilities and tasks, it is not offered remotely. Bachelor degree preferred with a minimum of two years’ related experience. The salary range for this position is $22-$25/hour, depending on education and experience; approximately 30 hours per week. Benefits for eligible employees include employer-matched 401K, healthcare reimbursement (Qualified Small Employer HRA), paid holidays, paid time off, paid sabbatical, and paid parental leave. Perks for eligible employees include paid professional development, cell phone reimbursement, and financial capability tools.

The Grant Plant is a 2021 Best Places to Work Honoree! Learn why at

Visual Strategies for Text Readability

June 28, 2021

Make Your Proposal Easy to Read so it’s Easy to Fund

As writers, it’s our job to take abstract ideas and make them easy for our readers to understand. As we pack the many important details of our organization’s work into the pages of a proposal, it’s helpful to consider things from the reader’s perspective. Have you ever clicked onto a web page, only to find that all the ads, buttons, and banners have buried the information you seek? Have you ever tried to read an article presented in large blocks of uninterrupted text, forcing you to undertake a tedious hunt for the more important bits of information? Including all the needed information is necessary, but when there’s too much of it, or when it’s presented in a confusing way, it can leave the reader feeling lost and frustrated.

For this reason, a visually cluttered proposal is not just an aesthetic problem—it could make reviewers less receptive, or less able to understand, your message. Potentially compounding this issue is the fact that your proposal is one of many proposals reviewers must read within a relatively short timeframe. An already-fatigued reviewer may not be amenable to laboring through text that is long-winded or that lacks clarity. This type of mental labor is referred to in Cognitive Load Theory as Extraneous Cognitive Load.1 Extraneous Cognitive Load happens when we’re presented with too much information at once, or when our minds must do too much work to process the information presented. This can make it harder to absorb and retain what is being conveyed.

So how can we ease the cognitive load for our audience, thereby improving readability? 

1. Less is More

Often, in our quest to answer every proposal question thoroughly, and paint a complete portrait of our programming, we end up including some information that is not truly necessary. When crafting a proposal, remember to stick to answering the questions asked. If you include information that is not expressly requested in the instructions, be sure that it really is needed to strengthen your case. Including too much unnecessary information may create an undue cognitive load for readers, exacerbate reading fatigue, and detract emphasis from the most important points.  

2. Utilize Visual Cues

We humans are inherently visual communicators, as our brains are wired to respond to visual cues to draw our eye, and tell us where to direct our attention. When essential information is logically differentiated and easy to find (rather than buried inside a wall of homogenous text), we are better able to understand what is being said. 

Consider the following visual concepts2:

  • Contrast—helps readers identify the main point
  • Hierarchy—helps readers see relationships between different components 
  • Flow—helps readers understand the order in which to process information
  • Unity—helps readers sense that information belongs together
  • Consistency—reduces visual noise, and increases clarity

Headings or subheadings—Even in cases where a proposal includes its own section headings, it can be helpful to add subheadings to contrast subsections and make that content easier to locate. Headings and subheadings should be visually different from the rest of the text, and a difference in hierarchy should somehow be indicated. These goals can be achieved by using different sized fonts, bolding, underlining, varying horizontal location, and even using different colors. However, remember to keep visual consistency of headings and subheadings throughout, or you’ll risk adding too much visual noise to the proposal. Investing the time to explore the built-in styles options of your text editor can be a useful time-and-energy-saving tool in this regard.

Highlight key text—Though all text in a proposal is important, there surely are some parts that are more important than others. Using color, bolding, italics, or underlining to highlight key elements or ideas can help reviewers distinguish the most important components from the rest. Longer texts or very important points can be highlighted by putting them in a text box.3

Color—Colors are powerful in creating  contrast and have their own hierarchy, which is defined by the color’s influence on readers’ minds.4 Consider the contrast between bold colors, such as bright reds and greens, compared with weak colors, like grey or muted pastels. Bold colors draw the eye more quickly, so writers often use them as a means of highlighting or setting contrast. Moreover, you can show unity between different text or sections by highlighting them or their headings with the same color, indicating that they are connected. If you choose to use different colors, consider your organization’s branding and color guide, if one exists.

Font—Typographic hierarchy can be used to draw attention to the most meaningful text and help emphasize flow. Using different sizes of the same font, or using different fonts within the same family of fonts, can divide the text into different levels so that readers perceive the information gradually. However, remember to keep the different fonts and sizes to a minimum. A rule of thumb in the world of web design is to use no more than three different fonts or sizes, to keep text from looking too messy.4

3. Keep it Simple & Consistent 

The use of bold characters, italics, underlined text, and large or colorful fonts is helpful, but there is such a thing as “too much of a good thing.” Visual cues should be clear, consistent, and minimal. 

Simplicity—Too many effects and too much variation are a recipe for Extraneous Cognitive Load. Don’t make something bold, large, and red, if simply making it bold will do.5 Similarly, highlighting too many sentences, or adding too many text boxes, will obscure the key messages. If everything is highlighted, nothing is highlighted! Limiting the number and variation of effects, levels of information, horizontal alignment, and headings or subheadings will reduce visual background noise. 

Consistency—Whichever visual effects you choose to use, maintain consistency throughout your proposal. To avoid inconsistencies, the “Paste without formatting” (or “Keep Text Only paste” / “Unformatted text”) feature of your text editor can be useful when importing text from external sources.3 It can also be helpful to zoom out, which allows more of a “bird’s eye view” of your document. This can help you get a sense of whether it’s visually unified with consistent formatting, or whether it looks messy and confusing.  

White space—Remember that white space itself is a visual element. White space, or negative space, is not just the area between the text, it is a core component of visual composition that allows writers to group or separate ideas, and give more weight to particular elements.4

In Conclusion, make sure your messaging comes across loud and clear by crafting a proposal that is as easy to read as possible. For reviewers who may have already spent hours sifting through proposals, reading one that is clear, concise, and logically organized, with easily identifiable components, will be a welcome relief, and might even make reviewers more receptive to your ask!

Contact: Amorena Almand, Resource Development Officer,


In creating this post, I referenced several great articles and books, including:

1. “Cognitive Load Theory.” Psychologist World.,task%20more%20complex%20than%20it%20needs%20to%20be.

2. Duarte, Nancy. Slide:ology. Sebastopol, O’Reilly Media Inc., September 2008. 

3. “Grant application: Top tips for a visually-successful application.” Enspire.Science. .

4. “User Experience: Best Practices on Effective Visual Hierarchy.” Design4Users. .

5. Colborne, Giles. Simple and Usable Web, Mobile, and Interaction Design. E-book, New Riders, 2010. 

A Year in Review: Philanthropy’s Response to COVID-19

May 14, 2021

The events that unfolded in 2020 were largely unexpected and manifested at such a rapid pace that it caught the world off guard. COVID-19 safety precautions forced businesses to close in-person operations and people were told initially to shelter-in-place, then later to stay home as much as possible. As the pandemic lengthened, the negative economic and social impacts spread across the globe and businesses and organizations were faced with the stark reality that standard in-person operations would not be safe to return to for some time. For many in the philanthropic sector, closing or slowing operations for even just a short time-period was not an option; these organizations saw the need for their services significantly increase as the pandemic bore on and these leaders knew that it was their job to try and lessen the daunting negative impacts.

The philanthropic sector was put to a timed test. They needed to be nimble and quickly respond to the needs of their communities, the nation, and even the world. Many were forced to re-think their carefully planned funding strategies and giving focus on the spot, while simultaneously learning to operate at heightened levels off-site through virtual interactions.

Philanthropy’s response to the pandemic

Philanthropic organizations stepped up to the plate and responded to COVID-19 on a scale that has never before been seen. A University of Washington survey of 500 of the largest U.S. foundations, conducted between May and August, found that 75% reported relaxed grant restrictions, 70% had started COVID-specific response funds, 41% changed funding priorities, and 30% increased their payout percentage. Over 800 organizations signed the Council on Foundation’s pledge to act to support nonprofit partners and communities hit by COVID-19 impacts, including to loosen restrictions on current grants, make unrestricted grants, and to contribute to community emergency response funds. According to Philanthropy and COVID-19, a report from Candid and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (2021):

  • U.S. donor giving was tracked at $15.4 billion across 25,118 gifts (including pledges, cash donations, and in-kind contributions) to respond the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Corporations accounted for the greatest amount awarded (44%), followed by high-net worth individuals (27%), independent foundations (22%), public charities and community foundations (both at 3%), and operating foundations (2%). 
  • Funding from independent foundations more than doubled from $1.7 billion in the first half of 2020 to $4.7 billion in the second half.
  • Community foundations awarded the highest number of grants (54%), however, those awards tended to be smaller amounts. The median award size for community foundations was $10,000, compared with $250,000 from corporate donors.

The philanthropic response in New Mexico

On March 11, 2020, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced the first known COVID-19 cases in the state and declared a statewide emergency on the same day. The pandemic halted the state’s economy and has negatively impacted residents who have been experiencing distress related to economic insecurity, housing insecurity, food insecurity, and health outcomes, as demonstrated in a recent New Mexico Voices For Children fact sheet. It is clear that New Mexico communities need(ed) support to assist with COVID response and recovery and our leading philanthropic organizations took note.

The Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy Funding Map is a visual platform that shows how foundations and other donors are investing in disasters, including the pandemic. This map shows that 14 foundations and corporations awarded $7.9 million as epidemic disaster funding in New Mexico for a total of 43 grants in 2020. New Mexico funders included:

  1. BBVA Corporate Giving Program, 1 grant ($3.7 million)
  2. Southern Company Gas Corporate Giving, 1 grant ($2.5 million)
  3. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2 grants ($1 million)
  4. Marguerite Casey Foundation, 10 grants ($170,000)
  5. Decolonizing Wealth Project, 11 grants ($146,000)
  6. Santa Fe Community Foundation, 3 grants ($145,000)
  7. Hispanics in Philanthropy, 7 grants ($129,000)
  8. Henry Luce Foundation, 1 grant ($60,000)
  9. Johnson Scholarship Foundation, 1 grant ($40,000)
  10. Mile High United Way, 1 grant ($25,000)
  11. El Paso Electric Company Contributions, 1 grant ($10,000)
  12. Communities Foundation of Texas, 1 grant ($5,000)
  13. Schott Foundation for Public Education, 1 grant ($5,000)
  14. Medina Foundation, 2 grants ($1,000)

The funding data presented above is updated at least monthly and is more current than the data presented in the aforementioned Philanthropy and COVID-19 report, which reflects data in Candid’s database as of January 20, 2021. Candid notes that “data collection efforts largely focused on the U.S., (were) based on publicly available sources in English, including press releases, websites, membership reports, and surveys as well as funders reporting disbursements directly to Candid,” and there are “undoubtedly more donors and awards that are not reflected in the data set.” As an organization directly in-tune and involved in the New Mexico philanthropic sector, The Grant Plant knows the above list is not complete: our community foundations, local United Ways, and independent foundations stepped up to the plate and issued numerous grants to local nonprofit organizations on the frontline of meeting pandemic-related needs, as well targeting support to those who suffered adverse impacts from the economic fallout. The full scope of COVID-19 philanthropy will not be known until the foundations’ 2020 IRS Forms 990 and their allocation of grants become available. 

New Mexico COVID Funding – Results from The Grant Plant’s Monitoring Activities

The Grant Plant is proud to play a lead role in serving the philanthropic sector in New Mexico.  In partnership with Pivotal New Mexico and 501(C)PA, The Grant Plant has been monitoring and sharing COVID-related funding opportunities relevant to New Mexico-based organizations to help with the state’s recovery and relief. The COVID-19 Funding Resource Center was made possible through support from the Thornburg Foundation and Anchorum.

Through our work to monitor and highlight COVID funding opportunities, we seek to help New Mexico organizations persist throughout the pandemic. This work has enabled us to be in tune with the real-time response of funders in New Mexico. After the review of Candid data, above, it was clear that the many our state’s foundation and corporate funders who have stepped up to provide financial support to combat negative COVID side effects have not yet been recorded in Candid’s current data presentation.

A reflection of past COVID-19 funding opportunities identified by The Grant Plant paints a picture of how New Mexico funders mobilized to respond to specific community needs. Our records show that from May-June there was a strong response from New Mexico foundations and corporate giving programs, as demonstrated through the release of funding opportunities that provided support to combat COVID-19, including:

  • Albuquerque Community Foundation with United Way of Central New Mexico (May)
  • All Together New Mexico Fund (May)
  • Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico with United Way of Southwest New Mexico (May)
  • FHLB Bank Dallas (May)
  • Lea County Electric Cooperative (May)
  • Los Alamos Community Foundation (May)
  • McCune Foundation (May)
  • New Mexico Local Food Supply Chain Response Fund (May)
  • PNM Resources Foundation (May)
  • Santa Fe Community Foundation (May)
  • Taos Community Foundation (May)
  • United Way of Eddy County (May)
  • Wells Fargo Foundation (May)
  • ABQ Community Foundation: Emergency Action Fund  (June)
  • Con Alma Health Foundation (June)
  • Con Alma Health Foundation: COVID Relief for Immigrant Communities (June)
  • Paso Del Norte Health Foundation (June)
  • Santa Fe Community Foundation: Native American Advised Fund (June)

From July to December 2020, we found fewer COVID-related opportunities from New Mexico funders – seven opportunities were identified, three of which were from new funders (Chamiza Foundation, Comcast, and New Mexico Oil and Gas Association). It is important to also note that some funders identified during the May-June timeframe offered rolling support with no or extended deadlines that extended into the later part of the year, or contributed to community funds to support our local nonprofits.

Much like Candid’s research referenced above, although The Grant Plant monitor was conducted diligently, it does not show all funding opportunities that made available by New Mexico foundations and corporations. The Grant Plant staff monitor a number of diverse information sources to identify funding opportunities, including through public news releases, foundation newsletters/email notices, internal sources, and so forth, however some funding opportunities may have been missed.

Although data collection is still in the initial stages, it is clear that the philanthropy sector has worked hard to provide a strong response to COVID-19 to try and address the health, social, and economic needs of communities. Funders were called on to increase their giving as a whole, make unrestricted/flexible grants, target giving to communities particularly impacted by COVID, recognize racial divides, focus on systemic changes, and more. Their task is not an easy one. Many steps we have seen funders take in response the pandemic have been impactful – the banding together through collaborations to heighten responses, to listening to and working with the communities most impacted directly, to loosening restrictions on grants and expanding application windows. These steps are positive for the philanthropic sector as a whole and we believe that our philanthropists, along with other supporters, will continue to stand together to rebuild our communities and re-envision how to best provide economic and social supports. The need to be flexible and responsive to community needs will continue into the years ahead. Like everything post-pandemic, we anticipate the world of philanthropic giving will continue to evolve while embracing some positive changes that were made necessary due to the pandemic.

The Grant Plant wishes to thank New Mexico’s philanthropic heroes, who went above and beyond to support our nonprofits, small businesses, and individuals during this unprecedented time of need. Your ongoing efforts before and after COVID are much appreciated and we applaud the critical roles you play in our communities.

Contact: Wendy McCoy, Senior Resource Development Officer,

Appropriations Season: Nonprofits and Government Agencies Eligible for Federal “Community Project Funding”

March 29, 2021

In 2011, House Republicans adopted a self-imposed ban on including earmarked funding provisions in discretionary appropriations bills, which was mirrored in practice by many in the Senate, creating an effective congressional moratorium on earmarks. This “earmark ban” endured until last month when the House Republican Conference voted to lift their own policy against including earmarks in appropriations bills, by a vote of 102 to 84 on March 17. The US Senate quickly indicated that they would also resume congressionally-directed spending.

Originally, the ban was imposed in response to growing public concern that earmarks might be frivolous spending or opportunities for corruption. Curiously, this political move did not actually ban or remove earmarks from budgets over the past decade; instead, it shifted most of the decision-making power to spend those funds from the legislative branch to the executive branch (or made the process of getting earmarks through the legislature much more secretive).[1] Despite public perception that earmarks were gone and discretionary spending was cut, roughly the same levels of spending[2] have been maintained in each of the appropriations bills through the years since the implementation of the moratorium.

Recognizing that reopening the process for congressionally-directed spending through appropriations with improved transparency, accountability, and policy safeguards would indeed be more beneficial to communities than the policy and practices of the last 10 years, the 117th Congress has signaled earmarks are back – though they have been rebranded and have more strict regulations pertaining to them. Now called “Community Project Funding,” the House recently released additional rules[3] for their consideration process and who is eligible for these funds. Among those new restrictions:

  • No for-profit grantees. All Community Project Funds must be allocated to an IRS designated 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization or a state or local government and their respective agencies;
  • Each Representative can only make 10 requests in total;
  • All requests must be made by Representatives online simultaneously; 
  • All recommendations for Community Project Funds made by House appropriations subcommittees must be made publicly available for comment at least 24 hours before full committee consideration; and
  • Representatives must be able to demonstrate that there is community support for the Community Project.

It should be noted that the Senate has not yet released their rules and restrictions regarding Community Project Funding; however, the consensus is that there is bipartisan support for resuming discretionary spending and no big surprises or major differences between House and Senate guidelines are expected (although one difference may be that the Senate does not limit the number of requests made by Senators to 10).[4]

So… what does this mean for nonprofits and government agencies? How do these entities make an appeal to Congress to be considered for Community Project Funding? Here is a step-by-step guide to locating instructions from your US Senators and US Representatives in order to make your plea:

STEP #1 – Identify your state’s two US Senators and the US Representative or Representatives from the congressional district or districts that overlap your service area. Here’s how you can identify who those Congresspeople are:

Find your US Senators

Find your US Representative by Congressional District

STEP #2 – Once you have identified your US Senators and relevant US Representatives, visit their websites. Usually, you can click their names or pictures on the websites above to get directly to their websites, but occasionally, you may have to search for them in a search engine. You may need to call your Congressperson’s office to get information about their process.

If they plan to participate in the Community Project Funding request process, most Congresspeople will have an application, packet, and/or guidelines somewhere on their website. Look for the phrases “Appropriations,” “Appropriations Requests,” “Earmark Requests,” “Community Project Funding,” or the like in their directory.

Pro-Tip: If you aren’t readily finding it, try their search bar (if they have one) with the above terms or try the following search in your favorite search engine “[Name of the Congressperson] +[Appropriations].”

For example, New Mexico’s two US Senators each have their applications available on their websites. 

US Senator Martin Heinrich (Deadline: April 2, 2021)

US Senator Ben Ray Luján (Deadline: None Listed)

Of the three congressional districts in New Mexico, the 1st District is currently vacant (so no applications can be submitted here), the US Representative for the 2nd District is accepting requests by email only, and the US Representative for the 3rd District has theirs available on their website.

US Representative (VACANT), 1st District (Deadline: N/A)

US Representative Yvette Herrell, 2nd District (Deadline: April 1, 2021)

Interested Parties should contact Representative Herrell’s office at

US Representative Teresa Leger Fernandez, 3rd District (Deadline: April 14, 2021)

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

It is important to note here that not all Congresspeople will participate in the option to submit Community Project Funding requests. Be mindful here, when looking for an application or contacting their offices that, for a variety of political reasons, some Congresspeople will not submit requests to appropriations sub-committees (remember that 84 Republicans voted against lifting the earmarks ban and there are Democrats and Independents that also don’t participate).

In the past, it was also possible that a Congressperson might not have a formal application process, but would entertain meetings to discuss earmark requests. Once they decided on which requests to submit to appropriations sub-committees for consideration, they would either ask you to submit something in writing at that time or their staff would write up their own summary of the request and community support and potential impact. Given COVID-19, the quick turnaround time for the 117th Congress Community Project Funding requests, and new regulations, this is less likely – though not impossible – to encounter.

STEP #3 – Fill out the application! This is usually the most time-intensive part of the request process and requires you to submit written, persuasive content in support of your Community Project. You will likely be asked to which appropriations sub-committee your request should be submitted (they are named the same in both the Senate and House for continuity). Your 10 options are:

  • Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
  • Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
  • Defense
  • Energy and Water Development
  • Financial Services and General Government
  • Homeland Security
  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies
  • Labor, Health, Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies
  • Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies
  • Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies

There are two other appropriations sub-committees (Legislative Branch and State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs), however neither of those sub-committees generally have discretionary funding available to the public. 

Please note: While your Representative may have a deadline as late as April 14th, 2021 for you to remit your application, it is not wise to wait until this time. The various House appropriation sub-committees have deadlines for Representatives to submit requests between April 14th and April 16th, 2021, so getting your request in to the Representative that late (but still “on time”) works against you. Remember, your Representative will only be able to recommend 10 Community Projects – give them time to consider all of the requests (including yours!) together before they start solidifying plans for what they are going to submit to the sub-committees. (At the time of this publication, the Senate’s rules and deadlines for Community Project Funding had not yet been set.)

Here are some tips for writing your application:

  • Be thorough, but brief! Remember your Senator and Representatives will likely be receiving many requests. Don’t bore them or their staff with lengthy applications. If they’re truly interested, but need to know more information in order to make a decision, they will contact you.
  • Make sure you give the who, what, where, when, how, and most importantly the WHY! Write an explicit statement about how funding will not only benefit your organization or agency and its program beneficiaries and/or service recipients, but also the community as a whole. Articulate how your Community Project is a worthy project to use taxpayer dollars on. 
  • Remember that your Senator or Representative has to be prepared to demonstrate that there is community support for your project. Citing community partners, collaborators, and prominent supporters could be helpful in garnering attention and support for your application from your Senator or Representative.
  • A good general rule of thumb for the range of requests is between approximately $100,000 to $2,000,000 (this is a rough range and not an exact science). Bear in mind that the House has capped Community Project Funding to be no more than 1% of all discretionary funding, so asking for too much will make your request easy to pass over; conversely, if a Representative is using one of their 10 requests on your Community Project, you likely need to demonstrate that more than just a few thousand dollars (that could likely be raised elsewhere) is needed to bring this benefit to the community.
  • Finally, remember that this is a one-time deal and that all funds need to be spent within one year or so. Requests for standard annual operating or program support will almost never get funded. Shovel-ready capital projects, equipment and technology purchases, special short-term initiatives to benefit the community are your most likely best bets to be funded through the Community Project Fund. Additionally, projects that don’t have other federal funding streams available to them already will likely be given priority.

STEP #4 – Once you have submitted your application to your Senators and Representative(s), follow up with each office. This should be a brief email or phone call and you will likely talk to staff. Ask if they have any questions about your request, would like a site visit, or want a fuller conversation or presentation. In years past, during “Appropriations Season” there was much more time to plan for and execute these events. Between COVID-19 and the fact that the House only lifted the earmark ban on March 17th and appropriations sub-committee deadlines start April 14th, the logistics probably do not support in-person site visits or full-fledged presentations – though you could do versions of either of these things via webconference. Your Congressperson’s staff will usually advise you if your project was selected for submission, but not always. Don’t be afraid to follow-up in late April to see whether or not your Community Project was submitted for consideration. Either way, be sure to thank your Senators and/or Representative(s) and their staff for their consideration of your request. Build that relationship for next year!

STEP #5 – Wait… for a long time. If your Congressperson has chosen your Community Project, they will submit it to the appropriate sub-committee. Each year, these 12 appropriations sub-committees will go through the full process of debating budgetary issues, line items, and discretionary funding, then submit their final recommendations to their respective Senate or House Committee on Appropriations for approval for inclusion in the full federal appropriations bill to be passed by the Senate or the House. It is vital to remember that even if your Congressperson recommends your Community Project to the sub-committee and demonstrates community support and the potential impact it might have for your community/state, your project still might not be suggested for funding by the appropriations sub-committee. This is a lengthy process wherein each bipartisan sub-committee proposes and debates 24 separate bills, which eventually get aggregated and submitted to the President as one bill for approval (hopefully) by the start of the new fiscal year, which is October 1st. It is, however, not at all uncommon for that deadline to come and go without an approved appropriations bill. If you recall any of the past years where “a government shutdown” was threatened or even happened, that was because the October 1st deadline was not met.

If your Congressperson did not choose your Community Project this year, do not despair! If things go well this year, the Community Project Fund will be around next year and you can try again. Your project or need may change by then, but now you’ve gone through the process and know generally what to expect. You can plan, prepare, and hit the ground running in March. You can even invite your Congressperson and their staff for a site visit, luncheon, workshop, or community presentation sometime in January or February to get them familiar with your organization or agency and the work that you do.

If your Community Project is approved for inclusion into the final budget bill passed by Congress and signed into law by the President, you have secured your one-year funding! Bear in mind, that accepting and spending this funding is subject to possible audits from the Government Accountability Office, who will ensure compliance and report its findings to Congress, so be sure to spend the funds as proposed.

For additional information on Congressional appropriations committees and sub-committees, discretionary congressionally-directed spending, Community Project Funding, and the general appropriations process, please visit these links:

“Community Project Funding: Reforms for Transparency and Accountability Fact Sheet” from the House Committee on Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro

“Lifting the Earmark Moratorium: Frequently Asked Questions” from Congressional Research Service

President Biden’s FY2022 Budget

Senate Appropriations Sub-Committees

House Appropriations Sub-Committees

“Community Project Funding: 117th Congress Revives and Recalibrates the Earmark Process” Holland & Knight Law Firm Alert

“Earmarks are back, and American should be glad” from the Brookings Institution

“Just What Earmark ‘Moratorium’ Are They Talking About?” from Project on Government Oversight (POGO)



[3] “Community Project Funding: Reforms for Transparency and Accountability Fact Sheet” from the House Committee on Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro.


Contact: Tonia Brown, Resource Development Officer,

The Grant Plant is Blossoming from 2020 into 2021

February 25, 2021

It is an honor and a pleasure to thank you for your support of our small business these some 18 years. I’d like to take a few minutes to share with you The Grant Plant’s work over the past year and some exciting developments for our company as we move forward.

Despite the tumultuous year that was 2020, I am proud of how our team rallied around each other, our clients, and the business. In fact, those are our three main aims – the team is healthy, the clients are happy, and the business is winning. As a team, we know how each other contributes toward achieving these results and we work together to maximize skill sets to make our whole better than the sum of our parts.

Our team is our biggest asset and the reason TGP is a successful business. Currently a team of 12 intrepid women—Aly, Amorena, Cecily, Erin, Jo-Ann, Laurel, Myshel, Paula, Rada, Tonia, Wendy, and me—our keyboards have been cooking over the past year as we transitioned to all-remote work, opened the NM COVID Funding Resource Center, and hammered out applications in response to the CARES Act. Many of those projects are still pending, and I look forward to sharing with you the result of these efforts closer to late-summer of 2021. 

Worth Noting! In 2019, our team completed 221 projects for 47 clients. Of these projects, 110 were grant proposals and 60% were awarded, amounting $26.5 million in funding. The median award size of these grants was $374,212 and the mean was $50,000. For every dollar our clients spent on grant seeking, they averaged $71.25 in awarded funds. 2020 awards are still pending, but we expect similar results!

The Team is Healthy

2020 brought a lot of changes to the professional and personal lives of everyone across the world. This was no different at The Grant Plant. We worked to continue serving our community and supporting our team, celebrating individual accomplishments, and facilitating an engaging remote work environment. 

Early in 2020, we were able to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Paula being with TGP as Business Manager. Paula’s role has grown significantly since she joined us, and we would be lost without her. 

Paula’s 10-year Anniversary with TGP

Ironically, our last day together before New Mexico went into lockdown was Friday, March 13, which also happened to be International Grant Professionals Day. We had ordered goodies and in-office chair massages for our team, but instead the day turned into one of moving to home offices. 

IGPD Cookies (that were sent to homes)

Shifting to all-remote work in 2020 wasn’t difficult for TGP because we’ve always been flexible on work times and locations. In fact, three of our team members are permanently remote and range from the West Coast to the Midwest to the East Coast. A surprising silver lining to all of us being remote is that it strengthened our connections with each other. We certainly missed seeing people in person, making eye contact, and laughter in the office, however, remote work spurred more communication patterns, sharpened virtual meeting and presentation skills, and connected the team better through opening an informal group chat room (with lots of pictures of pets and memes!).

The Kitchen Chalkboard in the Office in 2020

Even with extra efforts to keep the team connected, morale up, stress down, and workloads doable, the pandemic took a toll on our staff. With reduced space between meetings, more time spent on screens, and social isolation, we decided to let eligible staff opt into Flex Fridays, a nine-day schedule. This gives our employees one less day where they are compelled to be on camera, saving eye and mental fatigue, and able to move their bodies more. We also tweaked our policies and benefits, which included adding paid sabbatical, Super Bowl Monday and birthdays as holidays, and providing financial literacy tools.

We are hoping that the changes we made keep our people healthy, which in turn makes our clients happy. 

The Clients are Happy

Our 2020 client survey reflected overall satisfaction with TGP at 80%.  Our communication and accuracy were among the most highly-rated service qualities (95% and 94%, respectively) and our grant writing/proposal development and support in setting up grant delivery as the most highly-rated specific services (both 94%). All of us at TGP are continuing to work on cultural sensitivity (rated at 91%) as we grow in our individual and collective understanding of racial justice and the important role that a grant writer can play in community narratives and access to funding.

The open-ended comments from clients warmed our hearts, including:

  • I have been working with TGP in one way or another now for almost 20 years. They are ethical, extremely hard working, and produce favorable results. 
  • Awesome to see the growth of the work and also the maintenance of quality, and your team members are rock stars! 
  • Great response when we requested their help on short notice. 
  • I can’t say enough about the responsiveness and efficacy of the work they do! 

Thank you to everyone who received and took our survey. Please keep an eye out for it again in late summer. We value the input and use the data for improvement and decision-making when it comes to our services and the way we deliver them.

Our Clients, Our Partners

The Business Is Winning

With our team healthy and our clients happy, we can turn our focus to the business winning –that our client services give us a strong bottom line, that our net margin shows a positive trajectory, and that we are ideating on ways to add to our service and product lines.

We recently started moving to more of a shared leadership model that we will carry forward in the years ahead. Erin and I will continue to lead the company as we embark on ambitious growth plans that will deepen and broaden the services we offer. While we’ve always done everything together and will continue to do so, my focus is on external factors and relations, while Erin’s is on internal systems and operations. 

Our leadership team is comprised of talented individuals with differing and compatible strengths. As mentioned earlier, we are fortunate to have Paula Azua-Stofleth on our leadership team as Business Manager. Paula has played a critical role supporting us in daily operations and financial decision-making since 2010.

Our leadership team also includes Aly Sanchez as Director of Strategy & Organizational Development. Aly leads internal strategy across clients and projects, builds out quality improvement processes, and captures and articulates business, client, and project information. Aly has been with us since 2008, rising from Resource Development Officer to Director of Projects and into this position that she has held for the past two years. 

A second director position was added this year, with Cecily Peterson stepping into the role of Director of Resource Development. Cecily joined us in 2015 and has flourished from a Resource Development Officer to Senior Resource Development Officer. In her new role, Cecily will oversee the delivery of all our grant services (research, writing, reporting, and management), facilitating and guiding a new sector-based approach to resource development.

Building out our shared leadership model, Wendy McCoy will lead all of TGP’s research services as a Senior Resource Development Officer. In this role, Wendy will oversee a portfolio of client research projects while guiding other staff members in the prospect research process and deliverables. Wendy has been with us since 2008, starting as a Resource Development Officer and most recently as Resource Development Officer II.

We hope that you will be able to work with each of these amazing women in some way, and that they have the good fortune to work with you. We are excited for this next phase and look forward to working together to propel your work and help you to overcome any challenges that may arise in the year to come.

I speak on behalf of all TGP when I thank you for including us in your inspiring work. Wishing you all the best that 2021 has to offer, and then some.

Contact: Tara Gohr, President/CEO,

New Relief Funding from the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021

January 14, 2021

Since March 2020, the Grant Plant has monitored developments around COVID-19, particularly developments that are likely to impact New Mexico’s non-profit community, our clients, and New Mexico as a whole. To ensure our non-profit community has the resources needed to continue its vital work, we provide information about COVID-19 emergency funding available in New Mexico on The Grant Plant website. If you have any resources to add, please email us.


The latest—and long-awaited—round of coronavirus relief from the Federal government is contained within the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. The comprehensive, $1.4 trillion omnibus spending agreement contains numerous provisions, and includes $900 billion in coronavirus relief funding. The Act was signed into law on December 27, 2020. 

It includes direct monetary assistance to businesses, including nonprofits, and individuals impacted by the virus. It averts a Federal government shutdown, and includes funding for government agencies, and other priorities such as unemployment insurance, paycheck protection, vaccines and testing, schools and universities, food and farm aid, and the Postal Service. Among this list are many provisions that will have an impact across the U.S. A summary of such provisions is outlined below:

Supporting Businesses

  • The Act extends the refundable Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC), initially established by the CARES Act. Employers who had to shut down or reduce operations due to restrictions from COVID-19, or who have experienced a significant decline in gross receipts, are eligible for a per-employee tax credit of up to $5,000 each. Extension of this tax credit, through July 1, 2021, will help small businesses and non-profits survive the pandemic, and keep more employees on payroll. Aside from the extension, the ERTC is now more accessible, with businesses able to retroactively borrow both a PPP loan and claim an ERTC for 2020. The ERTC also now has higher limits on per-employee creditable wages and broader eligibility. See the References & Resources section of this article for more details on these updates.
  • The Act includes another $284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), available to for-profit and non-profit entities alike, and extends the program through March 31, 2021. Notable changes include:
    • A second PPP forgivable loan will be available to small businesses and non-profits (300 or fewer employees) that have experienced a loss of 25% of gross receipts during any quarter of 2020.
    • Expanded PPP eligibility for 501(c)(6) non-profits including local newspapers, radio, and television broadcasters.
    • A simpler forgiveness process for loans less than $150,000.
  • Additionally, the Act stipulates that forgiven PPP loans will not be included in taxable income, and that deductions are allowable for expenses paid from the proceeds of a forgiven PPP loan.
  • The Act includes another $20 billion to refresh the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) Advance grants program, through which small businesses and non-profits in low-income communities can apply for grants of up to $10,000. 
  • The Act earmarks $12 billion for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) to help low-income and minority borrowers disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
  • The Act includes $15 billion in funding to “Save our Stages” —helping organizations such as venue spaces, movie theaters, performing arts organizations, cultural institutions, non-profit museums, and others who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, given widespread restrictions against public gatherings and performances. This funding will flow from the Small Business Administration (SBA). A pot of $2 billion is specifically reserved for organizations with fewer than 50 employees.

Charitable Giving

  • A one-year extension has been granted for the $300 allowable tax deduction for charitable giving, previously set to expire at the end of 2020. This provision also increases the limits on deductible charitable contributions for businesses and individuals who itemize on their taxes, and allows a $600 allowable deduction for people filing a joint return, meaning that the public has more incentive to support charitable organizations during the pandemic. 

Staying Connected

  • An allotment of $3.2 billion is available for an Emergency Broadband Benefit that will provide $50 per month for broadband for low-income families. Consumers will not receive these benefits directly; payments will be made to participating internet service providers, who will verify household eligibility.
  • Another $1 billion is earmarked for a Tribal broadband fund, and $250 million dollars is reserved for telehealth funding. Additionally, a new $300 million grant program has been created to fund broadband in rural areas. 

Making Ends Meet

  • The Act establishes a new $25 billion program to provide emergency rental assistance to renters in need, to be run through the U.S. Treasury Department. The Treasury Department will distribute emergency aid to states and local governments via local housing agencies. These funds will be targeted to families impacted by COVID, who will be able to use this assistance for past due rent, future rent payments, and utility and energy expenses. 
  • The Act delivers a $166 billion round of Economic Impact Payments for individuals, in the form of one-time direct payments of $600 for people making up to $75,000, and $1,200 for couples making up to $150,000. Families can also receive $600 per eligible dependent child. Notably, this round of direct payments will expand its eligibility to include households of mixed immigration status.
  • Another $26 billion has been allocated for agriculture and nutrition funding, of which $13 billion will be used to combat the food insecurity experienced by so many during the pandemic. The Act will increase SNAP benefits by 15%, and add $400 million to The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) to fund the continued work of food banks across the country. 

Education & Childcare

  • This Act provides $81.88 billion in flexible education funding for states, K-12 institutions, and higher education institutions. As in the CARES Act, this education funding is again split into three funds: The Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund ($4.05 billion); the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund for public schools ($54.3 billion); and the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund for public and private non-profit and for-profit institutions ($22.7 billion). This provision also earmarks $818.8 million in relief for outlying areas and the Bureau of Indian Education, and $1.7 billion for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal colleges, and Minority-Serving Institutions. 
  • Lastly, the Act includes $10 billion for immediate relief to childcare providers currently in operation, or those that have been temporarily closed due to the pandemic, through the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program. These grants are flexible and may be used for personnel, sanitization of spaces, personal protective equipment, fixed costs, and other childcare related services. The Act also includes $250 million for Head Start providers to ensure they are able to continue to serve low-income children and families.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 includes many more provisions than are outlined in this post. For more details of COVID-19 relief provided within the Act, check out this succinct yet detailed summary, courtesy of the National Conference of State Legislatures. The full text of the Act can be found here.

The Grant Plant will continue daily monitoring for new Federal programs and funding stemming from this Act, and we will update our full listing of COVID-19 funding for New Mexico as more information becomes available. We are inspired by the meaningful work being done in New Mexico’s non-profit community during this time of crisis, and proud to be a resource for our clients as the pandemic continues to unfold. We will get through this together.

Contact: Amo Almand, Resource Development Officer,


References & Resources

Full text of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021

A summary from the National Conference of State Legislatures

A summary from Federal Funds Information for States

A summary from the National Council of Nonprofits

An employer’s guide to the Act from OneDigital

A housing-focused summary from the National Apartment Association 

Advance grants and loans from the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) program

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)

The Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) on the IRS website

Updates to the ERTC from Raich Ende & Malter Co. LLP and Forbes

Impact on Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs)

More detail on the Save Our Stages Act              

How the Act will impact Tribal communities

A press release from the FCC regarding new communications funding

Details of the Emergency Broadband Benefit courtesy of the National League of Cities

Expanded eligibility of the Economic Impact Payments to families

Impact on agriculture and nutrition

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