LINCOLN–(News Release Apr. 25)–Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and community representatives today announced plans to repurpose unspent funds from the City of Lincoln’s allocation from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to address critical workforce needs and enhance childcare services in the community.

“Together with our partners, we are using our American Rescue Plan funds to double down on key workforce needs in our community – and lift up the lives of our residents by increasing their economic mobility,” said Mayor Gaylor Baird.

Since ARPA funds were made available in 2021, the City has allocated $13.5 million for workforce development. More than 800 people have been served by community partners so far, but some organizations have not been able to use all of their allotted funds, according to Grace Willnerd, ARPA Compliance Administrator. By redirecting those unused funds, she said, Lincoln will ensure that all ARPA dollars will be spent before the end of 2024, the timeframe required by federal law.

Redirected funds will benefit the following programs:

$150,000 to support ECHO Collective, which connects and empowers local refugee and immigrant women. The grant provides funding to enable multiple cohorts of refugee and immigrant women to attend an intensive, four-month business education course.

$250,000 additional dollars to support a commercial driver’s license program offered by the American Job Center. The funds will provide financial assistance for training and facilitating job placements.

Another $200,000 of the redirected funds will be allocated to childcare-related initiatives:

$100,000 to Lincoln Littles for an internship program in conjunction with the American Job Center for 30 participants. Participants will be paid during their internship and receive weekly educational opportunities to bolster their childcare knowledge.

$100,000 to CEDARS in support of their childcare programs in their Northbridge Childcare Center. These funds will assist CEDARS in providing stable access to childcare for low-income families in North Lincoln.

Alec Gorynski, Lincoln Community Foundation President and CEO and Lincoln Littles Board Chair, emphasized the importance of these investments in addressing childcare needs and strengthening the local workforce. He noted that 17,000, or 77% of children in Lincoln ages newborn to 5, have all or both parents working who rely on childcare.

“I want to thank the Mayor for really strategic and thoughtful investment in our community’s workforce development challenges in what we’re characterizing as ‘the workforce behind the workforce’ – or our early childhood education employees,” Gorynski said.

Suzanne Schneider, Lincoln Littles Assistant Director; Kate Bolz, CEDARS Senior Advisor for Policy; Kelly Ross, ECHO Collective Founder and Executive Director, and Jim Blue, CEDARS Executive Director, also joined the Mayor in her press conference today.

The City has assigned all $45.9 million in ARPA funds to qualified programs and has spent over $32 million since the funding began in 2021. Visit lincoln.ne.gov/ARP for more information on how ARPA funds are invested in the community.

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