Wake County gave $20 million in COVID-19 relief funds to nonprofits. Who got the most?

Wake County gave  million in COVID-19 relief funds to nonprofits. Who got the most?

PITTSBORO, N.C. (WNCN) — Thava Mahadevan runs a small farm where he grows food for poor and homeless people with mental challenges.

He can feed more of them now, because Wake County is giving his group — XDS Inc. — $150,000 in COVID-19 relief funds.

“And our goal now is to expand what we have learned here as part of our Heat and Eat meal program into Wake County,” Mahadevan said.

Kelly Nivison wasn’t so lucky.

She asked the county for just $2,000 for her orchestral group, the Raleigh Camerata, but her request was denied.

“It was a little bit of a letdown,” she said.

They were among the winners and the losers in the county’s “Elevate Wake” program that handed out $20 million in federal relief funds to nonprofits who had to apply for it.

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“It seems like a lot, but there’s so much need in the community that it didn’t go as far as we were hoping, because it was so much demand,” said Matt Roylance, the county’s deputy director of community services.

Hundreds of applications poured in — 212, in all — and they asked for more than $148 million.

Only a fortunate 71 were picked, leaving about two-thirds of those that asked for help empty-handed.

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“We were thinking about which nonprofit organizations don’t have another funding source to go to, that this is really the best option for them?” Roylance said.

Among the recipients getting the most money:

— The Boys and Girls Club of Wake County is getting $2 million to move its Brentwood Club to Fox Road in Raleigh, and will upgrade its HVAC systems and purchase new buses.

— Haven House Services received $1 million to provide health care and food to needy children.

— Dorothea Dix Park is getting $1 million to repair its walkways and make its restrooms ADA-compliant.

Chris Dillon, the county’s senior assistant manager, said some of the rejected groups had called to ask about the awarding process.

“And honestly, once we we explained the process, we explained the scoring on it, and why their project wasn’t selected, there weren’t complaints,” Dillon said. “It was more of an understanding. And so I don’t know of anyone who still has an upset feelings.”

But some organizations that didn’t receive any money said they hadn’t heard from anyone — and some didn’t even know they were turned down until CBS 17 News told them.

“I actually had to hunt down the minutes on the website and see if we were recommended or not, and figured it out that way,” Nivison said.

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The winners now have to follow some rules.

Groups had to put goals in their applications, and now they have to meet them.

Mahadavan said the grant his group received will allow them to provide 100 more free meals each week every week for two years, saying it “will really give us an opportunity to be able to engage people who are homeless.”

Roylance says there are safeguards to make sure the money is spent properly, and Dillon says the county partnered with the Triangle Council of Governments to help distribute and monitor the funds.

“So when an organization gets the funding, they have to come back and report on everything that that is agreed to, and there’ll be individual contracts with each agency or each nonprofit that ensures that the public funds are spent for the purposes that they they applied for,” Dillon said.

For Mahadevan, it’s a fair trade.

“Sometimes, it can be can feel like you’re jumping through a lot of hoops,” he said. “But those are necessary steps to safeguard because some of these funds are federal funds. We want to make sure that we are good stewards of public funds. So I think it’s overall a win-win.”

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