Guilford County may stop funding human services nonprofits

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Guilford County may soon stop funding nonprofit groups dedicated to human services.

They are referred to as Community Based Organizations (CBOs).

In Fiscal Year 2015, the county allocated $175,000 to four Economic Development CBOs and $218,400 to eleven Human Services CBOs.

Commissioners agreed to give $540,000 in 2016 funding to the four Economic Development CBOs that applied.

They will also fund Human Services groups that got money this year and asked for money next year.

Those groups include: Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Black Child Development, Junior Achievement, One Step Further for Medication, Partners Ending Homelessness, West End Ministry’s Leslie’s House, and YMCA’s in Greensboro and High Point.

But for the future, the majority of commissioners voted to allocate funding to only economic development groups, not human services groups.

Plus, any human services groups applying for money this year that did not receive funds last year were ruled out for 2016 grants. Those groups included: Adult Center for Enrichment, Final Call Ministry’s Guilford County Food Pantry, Guilford Child Development, Mental Health Association of Greensboro, Nia Community Action Center, One Step Further’s Veterans Peer Support Program, Reading Connections, Salvation Army, Teach for America, Unifour One.

Pastor Eric Sturdivant was hoping to expand the Guilford County Food Pantry out of its 288 square-foot building to continue serving 800-1,200 families a month.

Without local funding, he says they’ll continue to rely on donations and as many other grants as they can get.

“For the commissioners to sort of turn their back and close the door on funding, when we’re ranked number one for food insecurity in the nation, it’s like a slap in the face,” the Pastor said. "But I know the citizens of Guilford County will pull through.

Guilford Child Development’s Executive Director Robin Britt was also disappointed. “The $22,500 we applied for was for our family success center, a partnership with United Way. It provides job readiness and training skills to low-income families trying to move into workplace.”

He said he did consider it an “economic development” investment to get workers trained for jobs to support themselves.

“Nonprofits are an enormously important service in Guilford County, and funding is always a challenge. These are all groups making a tremendous impact on the community,” Britt added.

Commissioner Ray Trapp is one of two commissioners who voted against the CBO changes.

“What we hear about – save taxpayer money. OK. So you managed to save $200,000 in taxpayer money by not funding CBO’s. That’s not really a savings. When you look at the work they do and the money they save us overall.”

Trapp said funding all of the human services and economic development groups asking for money would only be about 1 percent of the entire county budget.

“When we continue to increase funding for public safety and the sheriff’s department, but we don’t treat social services and human services the same way? That’s very disturbing to me," Trapp pointed out.

He said the majority of other commissioners wanted to take things in a different direction so they don’t have to choose “winners and losers” when it comes to sorting through applicants.

Trapp expected Thursday’s budget adoption meeting to be heated, saying groups won’t go down without a fight.

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