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Bryan City Council approves grant to boost Relief Fund

Bryan City Council approves grant to boost Relief Fund

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The Bryan City Council approved a matching grant Monday that will double the money raised by the United Way of the Brazos Valley’s Community Relief Fund.

The matching grant is part of Bryan’s Chapter 380 economic development agreement that will commit up to $500,000 toward the Community Relief Fund.

“Every dollar that is given now is now matched, so it really doubles everybody’s gifts,” said Alison Prince, United Way of the Brazos Valley president and CEO.

The relief fund, which will distribute money to area nonprofits and small businesses in need due to COVID-19, was established by the United Way, the Community Foundation of the Brazos Valley and Mercy Project founder Chris Field, along with the Bryan-College Station Chamber of Commerce and the cities of Bryan and College Station.

Nonprofits and small businesses in the seven-county Brazos Valley can apply for grants from the relief fund – up to $15,000.

The money committed from the city of Bryan is specifically intended for small businesses in the city and nonprofits that primarily serve Bryan residents, Prince said. The funds raised through public donations to the United Way – $280,000 as of Monday night – will help fill needs in the seven-county area. “This is not a situation where the needs have any boundaries by city or county or anything like that. They just overflow,” she said, noting the United Way is open to talking with other city and county entities about similar partnerships or agreements.

According to the agreement, the Bryan funds will be divvied up with 80% – or up to $400,000 – going to small businesses and 20% – or up to $100,000 – going to nonprofits.

The city of Bryan will not directly determine the recipients. An eight-person committee will review the applications and how to distribute the funds.

The first 100 applications, about 16 of which are nonprofits, will be reviewed Wednesday, Prince said. In addition, approximately 100 other organizations started the process but did not complete the application in time for the first round of grants.

“I would say that that’s probably just the tip of the iceberg of people,” she said. “This is a situation that impacts all of us, and we’re all feeling it, so it does not surprise me that there’s that many businesses and nonprofits that are saying this is taxing us and this is challenging our business model and we need some help.”

A new application period opens each Wednesday and remains open for two days. Small businesses can only apply once, but nonprofits providing rent, utility and food assistance can apply every 30 days.

“Ultimately, we want to at least get some grant funds out the door by Friday and into people’s hands by Friday, so that they can start paying their employees or serving food or helping with rent-utility assistance by Monday,” Prince said. “That was really our goal is to get this as quickly as possible.”

The Community Relief Fund has a goal of $500,000 and people can get more information and donate at uwbv.org/covid19. In addition to online donations, people can donate by texting BVCOVID19 to 41444 or by dropping cash or a check at the United Way of the Brazos Valley at 1716 Briarcrest Drive, Suite 155 in Bryan. Checks should be made out to the United Way of the Brazos Valley with “Community Relief Fund” in the memo line.

“Now it’s even more important for us to reach our $500,000 goal, because that means it really turns into a million dollars,” Prince said.

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