Yesterday’s unanimous vote by the Lexington Urban County Council to restore funding cuts proposed by the mayor for the city’s Extended Social Resource (ESR) grant program reflects an appreciation for the critical role nonprofit organizations play in serving each of us and our neighbors through partnerships with the city. The vote also reflects a growing understanding of the critical role nonprofits play in our economy – employing over 20,000 citizens in the Lexington community and generating over $1 billion in annual wages.
This roller coaster ride of proposed cuts, a city led “fundraising” campaign for selected nonprofits, confusion around any role that CARES Act reimbursements to the city might play, and more were unfortunate and unnecessary distractions for the impacted nonprofits, as well as for the nonprofit allies who were not directly impacted yet took time to speak out because they understood the ripple effect this would have on Lexington.
Nonprofits are on the front lines of serving our neighbors during COVID-19 and will be critical to thriving communities in recovery. As one Council Member stated during the debate to restore the proposed cuts: “We are attempting to shift the city’s uncertainty to those who can least bear it – the nonprofits who are needed most by our community.”
This is the first time KNN has ever engaged in local public policy efforts. We felt compelled to work with our Lexington colleagues because the potential cuts and belief that private philanthropy could fill the gaps set a dangerous precedent in Kentucky and beyond.
Now that the dust has settled, funding is restored and the grant proposals will be reviewed, we share this example with Kentucky’s federal delegation and urge them to act now on bipartisan solutions important to all charitable nonprofits, as well as the critical need for local and state government funding. Nonprofits and the people we serve simply cannot afford a partisan standoff. We need Kentucky’s delegation to urge Congress to act now so that we don’t see Lexington’s crisis play out in communities across Kentucky.