COVID-19, the CARES Act, and what it all means for rural residents and communities
2020 — what a year it’s been.
So much has changed for our country in light of the COVID-19 public health crisis.
Like many of you, I am holed up with my dog in a 650 sqft. apartment in Washington, DC wondering what day it is, thinking about those affected by this terrible disease and our fellow Americans on the frontlines, and wishing for better days.
We have a long road ahead of us and we are just beginning to adjust to our new realities — business closures, unemployment, home schooling, social distancing, inability to purchase essentials, etc.
And to emphasize the seriousness of our circumstances, the U.S. Congress found a way to put party politics aside to pass a $2 trillion bill to address the global pandemic head on. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act — better known as the CARES Act — provides direct payments to individuals, loans and grants for small businesses, expanded unemployment insurance benefits, assistance for state and local governments, and much-needed relief for medical facilities, among other things.
In response to the passage of the CARES Act and previous economic stabilization packages, organizations small and large are developing resources and sharing information with their constituents and the public.
But with so much information available, it’s hard to know where to start. Not to mention, the complexity of federal funding programs. During my time at the Delta Regional Authority, I took to heart what it meant to be a public servant. I studied federal programs in an effort to inform our agency’s initiatives — to ensure we were meeting the needs of rural residents and communities.
So I spent the past week digging through the CARES Act and grants.gov to identify federal programs that rural residents, non-profit organizations, and local governments can and should take advantage of during this crisis and beyond.
With the help of my team at Alchemy Community Transformations, we designed a website with curated resources specifically targeting rural and underserved communities, including:
- A community needs survey — to better understand what rural communities need and how to close these gaps
- An explanation of relief benefits for individuals — such as direct payments and unemployment insurance
- Resources from the Alchemy team and our partners — to address the challenges of entrepreneurs, small business owners, local elected officials, and other community champions during and after this crisis
- How we can help — we know there is much to do, now and in the future, to respond and recover from this crisis economically, socially, and emotionally
- And, most importantly, a guide to federal funding resources — that can be searched categorically by topic, applicant type, cost share requirements, and funding type
Our goal is to help you navigate these resources in a way that’s easy to understand and answer questions if and when we can.
This is just the beginning and we will continue to add key resources to help you navigate these uncharted waters.