Persevering in a Pandemic: Financial Resources for Community-Based Organizations

April 7, 2020

The economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic seems to escalate each day. To date, the focus has largely been on shoring up small and large for-profit companies. But the impact on community-based organizations that provide critical services to people involved in the criminal justice system is also starting to show.

Programs have closed. Reentry and behavioral health practitioners have lost their jobs. And organizations trying to stay afloat are finding themselves competing for increasingly scarce resources. If these small businesses and nonprofits are left to collapse, the people who are returning to their communities will enter our radically transformed world with even fewer supports than they had in the past.

To help these organizations weather the storm, we compiled a list of financial resources from federal legislation, private foundations, and financial institutions that small businesses and nonprofits can take advantage of to support themselves through this trying period.

Financial Relief Included in Federal Legislation

Congress recently passed three key bills that provide relief to small businesses and organizations in response to the pandemic—the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

Overarching Federal Assistance

The resources listed here provide overarching information on the types of financial assistance included in the federal coronavirus relief packages, as well as insight on how nonprofits and small businesses can access them. The bills passed by Congress also contain new requirements about employee sick and medical leave with which you may have to comply. You can learn how to do so with these materials from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Coronavirus Small Business Guide, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

This website offers succinct resources about securing a solid financial future for your small business or nonprofit organizations, including how to access COVID-19-related loans, a breakdown of federal stimulus assistance, and more.

Coronavirus: Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources, U.S. Small Business Administration

This resource provides information on debt relief services offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration, official government guidance on how to slow the spread of COVID-19, and links to a directory of local partners that are supporting small businesses.

Find Local Assistance, U.S. Small Business Administration

This interactive map allows users to search by keyword and zip code to find local agencies and organizations supporting small businesses.

The Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act, U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

This resource provides information about the variety of assistance programs offered through the CARES Act in a question and answer format.

Ways to Keep Your Payroll Running

The Paycheck Protection Program, which is a key piece of the CARES Act, sets aside $350 billion to provide cash-flow assistance for businesses, private non-profit organizations, and 501(c)(19) veterans’ organizations with under 500 employees. It offers 100 percent federally guaranteed loans at a one-percent interest rate that will be forgiven if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.

The loan is available through participating financial institutions through June 30, 2020, although organizations looking to apply for these loans should do so as soon as possible as banks are starting to reach their application limits. The resources listed here provide more information on how to apply for the loan and eligibility requirements.

Coronavirus Emergency Loans: Small Business Guide and Checklist, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

This guide further explains eligibility requirements for these loans, what lenders are looking for in applicants, and the dollar amounts that can be borrowed and forgiven under this program.

Paycheck Protection Program, U.S. Small Business Administration

This website provides an overview of the Paycheck Protection Program, eligibility requirements, information on how to apply, and links to other sources of assistance.

Note: If the business or nonprofit has a company owner or principal investor who is incarcerated, under supervision, or facing charges, the business may not be eligible for this program. Additional restrictions may apply if the principal has a criminal record. Learn more from the Collateral Consequences Resource Center.

Paycheck Protection Program Application Form, U.S. Small Business Administration

Use this PDF to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program.

Note: Applicants filling out this form are required to answer questions about any previous involvement with the criminal justice system, which could result in their disqualification. Learn more from the Collateral Consequences Resource Center.

Obtain an Emergency Loan and/or Loan Advance

The U.S. Small Business Administration is now making Economic Injury Disaster Loan advances of up to $10,000 to small nonprofits and business owners, as well as working capital loans of up to $2 million available to small businesses.

Disaster Loan Assistance, U.S. Small Business Administration

This is the application portal for the Disaster Loan Assistance program.

Tax Credits for Retaining Employees

Employers of any size, including tax-exempt nonprofits, who are subject to closure or experiencing economic hardship can get a refundable tax credit for 50 percent of wages paid by an eligible employer, up to $10,000.

To be eligible, the business must be either fully or partially suspended by government order due to COVID-19 during the calendar quarter, or the employer’s gross receipts must be below 50 percent of the comparable quarter in 2019. State and local governments and small businesses who take out small-business loans are not eligible.

Employee Retention Credit, Internal Revenue Service

This site provides detailed information about eligibility requirements, how the tax credit is calculated, and links to the forms needed to receive the credit.

Current and Potential Federal Grantee Funding

Federal agencies are offering existing grantees flexibility in their funding in response to the outbreak, and new opportunities have been made available non-grantees that wish to become one.

Flexibility and Funding for Federal Grantees

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) have provided short-term relief to recipients of their grants. For instance, OJP is easing administrative, financial management, and audit requirements that typically accompany its grants. Costs related to the cancellation of events, travel, etc. due to the public health emergency can now be charged to the grant award.

COVID-19 Information for SAMHSA Discretionary Grant Recipients, SAMHSA

This site offers information about new flexibilities for SAMHSA grantees, including how to re-budget and handle costs related to cancelled events, travel, and other activities.

Guidance on Short Term Administrative Relief for Grantees Impacted by COVID-19, OJP

This page provides details about the types of expenses that are included under the more flexible grant requirements, information about award extensions, grant reporting requirements, and more.

Funding Opportunities for Organizations Interested in Becoming a Federal Grantee

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA) is offering grants to organizations and treatment providers that partner with state, local, or tribal governments to increase access to services and treatment for people with mental health needs and substance use disorders and to support recovery.

Treatment, Recovery, and Workforce Support Grant, SAMHSA

SAMHSA is offering eight awards of up to $500,000 each to entities that partner with government agencies, tribal organizations, workforce development boards, and other state and local agencies to help people who have substance addictions recover and participate in the workforce. Applications are due June 1, 2020.


Additionally, The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) is offering emergency funds to state, local, and tribal governments that partner with community-based organizations in need of relief because of difficulties responding to the pandemic, in addition to their regularly scheduled funding opportunities. Community-based organizations considering these funds as options should contact their government entity to see if they’d be willing to partner and apply.

FY2020 Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program, BJA

BJA is accepting applications from state, local, and tribal governments who need help preparing and responding to the coronavirus pandemic within prisons, jails, and detention centers. The funds can be used for employee time, equipment and supplies, travel, and medical costs. Applications are due May 29, 2020.

Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program Grants, BJA

BJA is accepting applications from state, local, and tribal governments partnering their mental health organizations/providers with criminal and juvenile justice agencies to reduce recidivism among people with mental health needs and substance use disorders by increasing their access to services and treatment.  Application deadlines start May 4, 2020.

Additional funding opportunities for private, non-profit, and government agencies can be found on the Office of Justice Programs website. Application deadlines for these grants start as early as April 13, 2020.

Don’t Forget About Private Funding

More than 200 charitable organizations and several banks are making funds available to support COVID-19 relief and are dedicating support to local non-profit organizations. The resources listed here provide more information about these efforts.

Foundation Funding
Community Foundations Nationwide Launch Coronavirus Relief Efforts, Community Foundation Public Awareness Initiative

This page provides links to the hundreds of local foundations providing relief to community nonprofits.

COVID-19 Relief Fund Application, Robin Hood

501(c)(3) organizations that provide services in New York City and are well-positioned to serve low-income communities can apply for funding averaging $45,000 and lasting for three months.

Bank Funding
$100 Million in Support of Communities Around the World Impacted by Coronavirus Pandemic, Bank of America

Bank of America has committed to supporting organizations that increase medical response capacity, address food insecurity, increase access to remote learning, and provide support to vulnerable populations. Most grants will be distributed at the local level. Interested organizations should routinely check the banks’ website for updates and reach out to their local community affairs representative for more information.

$50 Million Philanthropic Investment to Help Address Immediate and Long-Term Impacts of COVID-19, JP Morgan Chase & Co.

JP Morgan Chase & Co. is providing $2 million to support operational capacity for their existing nonprofit partners that serve vulnerable populations. Organizations should routinely check the banks’ website for updates and reach out to their local community affairs representative for more information.

Committing $50 Million to Support Critical Community Needs, Capital One

Capital One is providing additional funding to existing grantees that work to address food security, housing security, small business owners, and support people with low incomes. Organizations should routinely check the banks’ website for updates and reach out to their local community affairs representative for more information.

Be sure to check back here for more updates as we learn of them. The Council of State Governments Justice Center is also committed to ensuring that state, local, and federal leaders are aware of the significant challenges that community-based service providers are facing amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Editor’s Note: For more guidance related to the outbreak, visit the new resource website launched by The Council of State Governments.

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