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Supervisors approve $1M for new COVID-19 relief grant program for local nonprofits


BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Local nonprofits that have been financially impacted by COVID-19 will be able to get some relief from a new grant program through the county. 

During its Tuesday morning meeting, the Kern County Board of Supervisors approved $1 million in funding for a new nonprofit grant program that would give organizations between $5,000 and $20,000 depending on need. This program specifically targets nonprofits that directly serve the community, according to the county. 

While some nonprofits were able to receive COVID-19 relief through the federal Payroll Protection Program and the Kern Recovers program, the county said there are many that were unable to take advantage of these programs because of how the organizations are structured, such as those that largely run on volunteers. 

While the board approved the funding, some supervisors expressed concern about the program. Supervisor Mike Maggard said he wanted to make sure that it’s explicit in the language of the program that these grants can’t be used for political activities, such as lobbying and contributions.

“Many nonprofits could benefit from this, but I have concerns about these funds being used for the benefit of some and the detriment of others because of politics,” he said. 

County Chief Operations Officer Jim Zervis said that staff will make the language of the program more explicit to state that any grants that are provided be used in a way that helps deliver services to the public.  

“We recognize the concerns here,” he said. “We can strengthen that to make it clear that these funds can’t be used for political purposes.”

According to the county, a nonprofit would be eligible for a grant based on several criteria, such as proof that they have been impacted by COVID-19 and are a legal nonprofit, are physically headquartered in Kern County and have not received funding under the Kern Recovers program. 

Besides organizations used for political purposes, those that are used for religious purposes, are an educational institution, are a governmental entity, a private foundation or a recreational/sports club would also not be eligible for the grants. 

For nonprofits that are eligible, their funding amount will be based on employee count, 2019 revenues and how much revenue they’ve lost this year during the pandemic. 

ICU Nurse Staffing

During Tuesday’s meeting, the board also approved $600,000 for RightSourcing Inc. to provide additional ICU nursing staff at Good Samaritan Hospital in Bakersfield that would allow for two more ICU beds at the facility. 

Last month, the board approved a $12 million contract with the company to provide enough staff to increase ICU capacity at the hospital to 40 beds. With the new allocation, the total will now be 42 beds. 

The board also approved an agreement with the Community Action Partnership of Kern for up to $25,000 to distribute up to $475,000 in personal protective equipment to customers in various CAPK programs to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

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