Washington Snapshot

Washington Snapshot: Nonprofit Strength and Partnership Act Introduced in the House

Friday, April 29, 2022 - 1:12 pm
Stephanie Powers

What's Happening This Week...

Happening at the Council

Uniting Americans Through Service: Philanthropy and AmeriCorps "Meet and Greet"

On May 16 at noon ET, join the Council for a webinar featuring Michael D. Smith, the newly appointed CEO of AmeriCorps, in his first national appearance! Mr. Smith will be joined by Tonya Allen, President of the McKnight Foundation and Chair of the Council's Board of Directors, as well as Kathleen Enright, President and CEO of the Council. They will discuss Mr. Smith's vision for AmeriCorps and opportunities for the agency to partner with philanthropy among local communities. This webinar is co-hosted by Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement and is free for both Council members and non-members.

Happening on the Hill

Nonprofit Strength and Partnership Act Introduced in the House

This week, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) and Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) introduced the Nonprofit Sector Strength and Partnership Act (H.R.7587). The bill aims to strengthen the link between the federal government and the nonprofit sector by, among other provisions:

  • Establishing both a White House office and interagency council for nonprofits
  • Instituting a federal advisory board of nonprofit leaders
  • Providing regular employment data on the nonprofit sector

Read a full summary from Independent Sector.

The Council on Foundations supports this legislation, which would open new pathways for collaboration between the government and our sector.

Council Submits Comments on Foreign Agents Registration Act

In response to the recent hearing on the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, the Council submitted comments for the record calling on Congress to ensure the nonprofit and philanthropic sector is protected from the sweeping provisions in the law. The Council continues to urge Congress to modernize FARA so that it does not capture the charitable activities of foundations and nonprofits operating with a global reach.

Happening in the Executive Branch

IRS Solicits Comments on Guidance Priorities

The IRS is seeking public input on its 2022-2023 Priority Guidance Plan. The Priority Guidance Plan details the tax issues the IRS and the Treasury Department’s Office of Tax Policy intend to address through regulations or other published administrative guidance in the upcoming year.

Public comments are due by June 3, 2022. The Council on Foundations intends to submit comments to the IRS; if you or your organization have suggestions for comments, please email Jenn Holcomb, Director of Government Affairs at the Council.

Federal Actions to Fix Failures in Student Loan Programs

On April 19, the Department of Education announced actions that will result in immediate debt cancellation for at least 40,000 borrowers under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program, and up to 3.6 million borrowers will receive credit toward income-driven repayments (IDR). 

These actions are part of the Department’s commitment to address historical failures in the administration of the federal student loan program and to support student loan borrowers through the pandemic. The actions include addressing forbearance steering, IDR forgiveness, and tackling student debt to make college more affordable. On April 26, at a meeting with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, President Biden is reported to have signaled he is not only prepared to extend the current federal moratorium when it expires in August but also is looking into forgiving at least $10,000 in debt for students who are paying back their loans. 

HRSA Initiative Will Build the Pipeline of Public Health Workers

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will provide grants through the American Rescue Plan Act to local and Tribal governments, public higher ed institutions, and nonprofits to train 13,000 new community health workers. Community health workers are also known as promotores de salud, community health advisors, outreach workers, patient navigators, and peer counselors; and can include individuals with lived experience whose experience helps inform their work. This effort will support training and apprenticeship programs to help more people enter the health workforce and serve as trusted messengers to connect people to care and support that can improve an individual’s health and well-being. The application deadline is June 14.

IRS Taxpayer Clinics Available for Low-Income Filers

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that more than $12.1 million in matching grants were awarded to 131 organizations across the country for the development, expansion, or continuation of qualified Low-Income Taxpayer Clinics for the 2022 calendar year. View the list of clinics to learn more.

Cross-Government Initiative Engages Rural Communities

Last week, the White House launched the Rural Partners Network (RPN), a new whole-of-government effort led by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to transform the way federal agencies partner with rural places to create economic opportunity.  The program will place new federal field staff in more than 25 rural communities in multiple states, Tribal Nations, and territories to help local leaders navigate and access the federal resources.   USDA Rural Development (RD) is leading the RPN in collaboration with 16 federal agencies and regional commissions through the Rural Prosperity Interagency Policy Council, co-led by the White House Domestic Policy Council, and USDA. Funders can reach USDA Rural Development to discuss leveraging their rural work or to explore potential partnerships by emailing RuralPartnersNetwork@usda.gov.

Funder Input Sought on FEMA Disaster Recovery Framework

The National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF) lays out the nation’s approach to disaster recovery and addresses complex immediate and long-term disaster challenges. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is currently seeking input to update the Framework, last updated in 2016. Collaboration with state, tribal, and territorial leaders, volunteer organizations, philanthropy funders, nonprofits, and professional organizations are seen as central partners in the nation’s disaster recovery capacity. The NDRF task team is hosting stakeholder listening sessions on May 3, 1:00 p.m. EDT  and May 19, 3:00 p.m. EDT to get input in five focus areas: Equitable Outcomes, Climate Resilience, Resource Alignment, Roles & Responsibilities, and Mission Integration. Any Council on Foundations members interested in participating in a special funder focus group for this purpose should email govt@cof.org for details.

Happening in the States

National Council of Nonprofits

Exclusive from our colleagues at the National Council of Nonprofits.

Policy Solutions to Nonprofit Workforce Shortage

As documented in the report, The Scope and Impact of Nonprofit Workforce Shortages, charitable organizations are reporting that salary competition and the costs of child care are two major impediments to attracting and retaining qualified staff. Some policy solutions are on the way in parts of the country. Nonprofit human services providers in New York secured a cost-of-living increase of $500 million with the enactment of the state budget this month. This is the first increase in years, but it “doesn’t cover everyone,” according to Nonprofit New York; nonprofit domestic violence programs, supportive housing, and others were left out of COLAs. The New York budget also includes $7 billion over four years for child care subsidies, which helps employers and employees in all three sectors -- business, government, and nonprofit. Maine lawmakers appear close to approving a tax credit to help cover child care expenses in the state. The program, based on the School Readiness Tax Credit program in Louisiana, would apply to child care expenses incurred by families, thus increasing access and ability to pay.

ARPA Funds and the Roles for Philanthropy

Last year, Congress allocated $350 billion in flexible funding to state, local, Tribal, and territorial governments for “assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits, or to aid impacted industries” via the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) (emphasis added). Many philanthropic organizations have been helping governments and nonprofits implement this massive, unscripted, and fast-moving opportunity. Substantial amounts of funding remain unspent, leaving significant opportunities for foundations to assist, including by promoting an equitable recovery. A new section in the updated Special Report from the National Council of Nonprofits, Strengthening State and Local Economies in Partnership with Nonprofits, highlights multiple ways foundations have been helping their grantees and communities approach and leverage this ARPA funding, presenting those examples in these three broad categories:

  1. Using their own resources in creative ways, ranging from direct financial support, such as matching funds to expand public-private initiatives, to indirect support in the form of capacity-building grants to help nonprofits access and effectively manage the use of the federal funds.
  2. Providing their grantmaking expertise to help distribute and administer the ARPA funds in their communities.
  3. Convening groups – governments, nonprofits, foundations, and the public – to disseminate and collect information about ARPA opportunities, community needs, and how to best use the funds to address local challenges.
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