City Council Report

 

Council Meeting: May 28, 2015

Agenda Item: 4-B

To:               Mayor and City Council 

From:           Karen Ginsberg, Director of Community and Cultural Services

Subject:         Grant Funding Recommendations for the Proposed FY2015-19 Human Services Grants Program and Cultural/Art Organizational Support Program

 

 

 

Recommended Action

Prior to taking formal action on June 23, 2015, staff recommends that Council provide comments on the grant funding recommendations included in the attached Proposed Human Services Grants Program and the Organizational Support Program (OSP) Grants for Arts and Culture Nonprofits for FY2015-19.

 

Executive Summary

The City provides grant funding to a wide range of human and community service programs and cultural and arts organizations serving Santa Monica residents. On January 27, 2015 Council approved the funding rationale for the next four-year cycle of both the Human Services Grants Program (HSGP) and the Cultural/Art Organizational Support Program (OSP), and authorized staff to release requests for proposals (RFP) for the next four-year funding cycle. This report provides information regarding the proposals that were received and the review process. The report also includes the staff recommended grant awards proposed for inclusion in the FY2015-17 Biennial Budget.

 

Proposed FY 2015-19 Human Services Grants Program

On February 4, 2015, the City released the FY2015-19 HSGP Request for Proposals (RFP).  The release was announced on the City’s website and was distributed to over 190 agencies via email. Additionally, notice of the release appeared in the February 6 and February 7-8 editions of the Santa Monica Daily Press. All RFP documents were made available for download from the City’s website and for pickup at City Hall. Twenty-four agencies submitted 50 proposals by the March 9, 2015 deadline, requesting a total of $10,011,648. The proposal review process incorporated input from subject-matter experts, community partners, members of City boards and commissions, and City staff and was conducted in accordance with the Council-approved funding rationale.

 

In order to further align HSGP funding with City initiatives, continue funding for Council-identified priorities, expand the use of research-based best practices, and support a collective impact model across all program areas, staff recommends a FY2015-16 HSGP funding level of $8,108,980 (Attachment A). This funding level represents a net increase of $743,557 (10%) over the FY2014-15 HSGP ongoing funding base of $7,365,423.

 

The increase is off-set by a $118,503 inflationary adjustment to the General Fund (CPI, 1.8%), a $2,258 increase in HUD Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, and $72,796 in onetime Village Trailer Park development agreement funds. The remaining $550,000 will be requested as an enhancement from the General Fund as part of the FY2015-17 Biennial Budget. The proposed FY2015-19 HSGP recommendations would support 22 agencies with: maintenance-of effort (MOE) funding for 11 agencies; increased funding for 8 agencies; reduced funding for 2 agencies; and 1 new agency recommended for funding.

 

Proposed FY 2015-19 Cultural/Art OSP

A Request for Proposals (RFP) was distributed broadly on February 5, 2015. The City received 15 submittals by the March 23 deadline, requesting a total of $703,531.  The applications were reviewed by a diverse group of respected professionals, including multiple experts from each of the artistic/cultural disciplines represented in the applicant pool. The total recommended FY2015-16 funding level is $330,600 for 13 organizations.  This represents a proposed increase of $70,000 over the FY 2014-15 OSP funding level.  One application is not recommended for funding.

 

Final funding recommendations and a request to adopt the HSGP and OSP grant programs will be presented to Council on June 23, 2015.

 

Background

On January 27, 2015 Council approved the funding rationale for the proposed FY2015-19 Human Services Grants Program (HSGP) and Cultural/Art Organizational Support Program (OSP), including the proposed guidelines and selection criteria, and authorized staff to release a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the next four-year grant funding cycle (FY2015-19).

 

Human Services Grants Program

The HSGP has been delivering essential community and social service programs to Santa Monica residents for over 40 years. Through the HSGP, the City provides financial support to public and nonprofit organizations working to increase wellbeing and improve quality of life for priority populations as identified in the FY2010-15 Consolidated Plan, Youth Wellbeing Report Card (2014/15), Youth Violence Prevention in Santa Monica: An Action Plan for 2010 and 2011, 2011-14 Action Plan to Address Homelessness in Santa Monica an Evaluation of Services for Older Adults, and the recently released findings from the City’s Wellbeing Index.  Administered by the Human Services Division, the HSGP is structured in four-year cycles so that participating agencies receive stable funding allowing for consistent service delivery and long-term strategic planning.

 

During the FY2011-15 HSGP grant cycle, the City disbursed operating grants to 24 nonprofit human service organizations supporting over 45 programs to meet the needs of youth and families, people with disabilities, seniors, victims of domestic violence, and low-income households, including those who are homeless. The funding level for the FY2014-15 HSGP totaled $7,603,111 and included:

·       City General Fund - $6,583,488 (87%)

·       Federal Funds - $533,997 (7%)

·       L.A. County Proposition A Funds - $247,938 (3%)

·       Onetime funding of $237,688 (3%)

o   Legal Aid Foundation: $65,000 (Council Enhancement-General Fund)

Legal Services for Tenant Harassment, serves 120 participants.

o   Hospitality Training Academy: $92,688 (Council Discretionary Funds)

Youth Employment and Jobs Initiative Program, serves 50 participants.

o   Connections for Children: $80,000 (Hines/Lantana DA Funds)

Annual Childcare Subsidies for 8 children from low-income families.

 

During the last funding cycle, Council prioritized stable funding throughout a period of economic uncertainty and strategic reductions to the City’s operating budget. While the HSGP has essentially remained level since 2008, the City and its partner agencies have worked to refine service delivery with existing funds through the adoption of best practice models, examples of which include Housing First in the area of homelessness and the Santa Monica Cradle to Career (smC2C) collective impact model for youth and families. These approaches involve collaborative and on-going one-on-one interventions that are often resource intensive, with high-impact outcomes that result in positive and measurable change for individuals, families and the community as a whole. Programs that are proving successful have adopted a  “whatever it takes” approach which often involves using assertive case management, clinically-trained staff, interdisciplinary teams, and a history of effectively leveraging non-City funds and resources. Looking ahead, these improved methods of service delivery will support strategies emerging from recently released findings from the Wellbeing Index, which illustrate a clear need to continue providing resources and support to special needs populations.

 

Notwithstanding the cost of living increases most recently provided to City grantees in FY2012-13 (2.5%) and FY2014-15 (1%), there has not been an increase in HSGP funding to support a shift to these more resource-intensive service delivery models.  The HSGP funding base is comprised of a variety of federal and local sources, many of which are time-limited or dependent on a competitive renewal process. In contrast, General Fund allocations ensure the continuity of vital safety net services while offering the flexibility needed to respond to changing local needs. In order to meet the emerging needs of the community with new initiatives and current best practices as outlined in the FY2015-19 HSGP RFP, it will be necessary to realign existing funding, maximize current resources, and seek an enhancement to current General Fund levels.

 

Cultural/Art OSP

Per Creative Capital, the City’s adopted cultural plan, Santa Monica’s residents share a vision for their community that interweaves the arts, cultural activities, entertainment and education throughout their lives, work, cityscape and neighborhoods.  And they view the arts and culture as an integral component of civic life, incorporated into the values, policies and daily activities of the city.  The City of Santa Monica has a long track record of investing in artists and arts organizations in order to provide residents with a broad and exciting array of cultural programs and services.  Ongoing access to arts programs has been demonstrated to improve children’s performance in school and young people’s ability to acquire new skills, to broadly enrich our emotional world, and contribute to a sense of community connectedness and wellbeing.

 

The Organizational Support Program (OSP) was created in 1997 to provide stable funding for the cornerstone organizations of the community’s cultural life.  OSP funding is designed to help secure the community’s access to cultural opportunities by providing stable multi-year support for the basic operational expenses of the City’s core organizations, which, in turn, assists them in the achievement of longer-range artistic and administrative goals. Many public agencies restrict such funds to large budget organizations; however Santa Monica recognizes the importance of a diverse range of strategies and approaches in meeting a community’s cultural needs. Currently
11 organizations are supported by OSP. These organizations have overall budgets ranging from $109,000 to $6,500,000, with grant levels in FY2014-15 ranging from $5,500 to $66,000. The City’s ability to sustain funding levels to OSP grantees through the recession has been a key element in the current success and growth of the arts & culture sector in Santa Monica.

 

This next four-year grant period represents a pivotal opportunity for City support to have a significant impact on the future of Santa Monica’s core arts and culture agencies. An in-depth community assessment process conducted in the Fall of 2014 revealed that although Santa Monica cultural organizations are increasing the number and scope of their programs to meet local demand, and are reaching more Santa Monicans as a result, organizational sustainability is under greater threat than in the past primarily due to the consistently rising cost of local real estate. Organizations participating in the assessment also described the high level of personal fatigue and organizational stress resulting from the cumulative effect of increased demand for arts and cultural services combined with low salaries and escalating office and program space costs.

 

Aside from a 10% budget increase last June to adjust for the lack of CPI increases in prior years, OSP funding levels have not increased since FY2008-09, when the program received a 3% increase over FY2007-08.  In FY2010-11, OSP support amounted to 4.6% of grantees’ aggregated expenditures. Today that number is 2%. Creative Capital, the City’s adopted cultural plan calls for an eventual goal of supporting 10% of arts and cultural organization budgets.

 

Discussion

Human Services Grants Program Review Process

On February 4, 2015 the Human Services Division released the FY2015-19 HSGP Request for Proposals (RFP). By the March 9, 2015 deadline, the City received 50 proposals from 24 agencies totaling $10,011,648.

 

The proposal review period took place from March 9-25, 2015.   Reviewers included 16 independent subject matter experts, four representatives from City of Santa Monica boards and commissions, and 11 City staff from a variety of departments (City Attorney’s Office, Santa Monica Police Department, Housing and Economic Development, Santa Monica Public Library, Big Blue Bus). Proposals were assessed against the Council-approved funding rationale and guidelines.

 

As outlined in both the RFP and the funding rationale, the HSGP prioritizes programs that serve a clearly-defined City need, deliver high-impact outcomes, employ research-based best practices, utilize intensive and assertive case management, expand capacity to serve the most difficult to engage and high-risk populations, and have a demonstrated history of fiscal diversity and sustainability that maximizes non-City funding and resources to serve City residents. Programs recommended for funding meet these criteria for the following target populations and service areas:

·       Youth and Families: Economic Security & Employment Assistance; Family Wellbeing; Early Care & Education; Community & School Mental Health; Substance Abuse Education & Treatment; Opportunity Youth; and College & Career Readiness.

 

·       Homelessness: Housing Placement; Interim Housing; Substance Use Disorder Treatment; Housing Stability and Retention Services; HUD Continuum of Care Programs; Santa Monica Homeless Community Court; Project Homecoming; and Rapid Response Outreach.

 

·       Seniors and Disabled Persons: Intensive and Assertive Care/Case Management; Housing-Related Support; Nutrition Services; Socialization, Healthy Living and Community Connection; and Paratransit Services.

 

·       Low-Income Families: Economic Security & Employment Assistance; and Homeless Prevention for Overcrowded/At-Risk Households.

In arriving at a funding recommendation, Human Services Division staff considered the priorities outlined in the RFP and Council-approved funding rationale, as well as reviewer feedback, historical agency and program performance, and current and emerging community needs.  This robust, multi-faceted approach to the review process resulted in a set of recommendations to fund a mix of existing and new programs implementing enhanced services that have been identified as best practices to serve and engage the hardest to reach individuals and households in the community.  Agencies funded through the FY2015-19 HSGP will help to cultivate an effective safety net for Santa Monica’s most vulnerable residents and align services to meet the goals of City initiatives and priorities.

 

Agencies and programs recommended for funding were selected from a pool of grant requests whose total exceeded available funds by nearly $2 million. Due to the competitive nature of the RFP process, an array of existing community priorities, a well-established social service infrastructure, and finite funding sources, not all proposals are being recommended for funding.  For FY2015-16, staff recommends an HSGP funding level of $8,108,980 (Attachment A), a net increase of $743,557 (10%) over FY2014-15 HSGP ongoing base funding. The proposed increase to be included as part of the FY2015-17 Biennial Budget consists of a $118,503 inflationary adjustment to the General Fund (CPI, 1.8%), a $2,258 increase in CDBG funds, $72,796 in onetime Village Trailer Park development agreement funds to support the expansion of the HSGP, and a recommendation of $550,000 in increased funding from the General Fund.

 

The expansion of the HSGP would maintain resources for Council-identified priorities and move forward several key initiatives. In addition, staff funding recommendations are poised to address some of the key findings of the Wellbeing Index, such as concerns over economic security, lack of social connection for young people, and vulnerability of the most frail and elderly seniors in the community. Focusing on a “whatever it takes” approach to promote and increase the wellbeing of low-income and vulnerable Santa Monica households and align with the City’s Action Plan to Address Homelessness, the goals of the Santa Monica Cradle to Career Initiative, and findings from the Wellbeing Index, additional resources will be used to:

·       Scale up the Youth Resources Team (YRT) model to reach 40 additional at-risk youth, with specific focus on families with youth aged birth to five and middle school children and their families with an emphasis on Community Corporation of Santa Monica residents;

·       Increase the capacity of programs that serve seniors and people with disabilities to engage the hardest to reach and promote independent living. Proposed enhancements will assist 20 senior households living with complex issues, such as hoarding, to avoid eviction, and will provide for the purchase of accessibility equipment for 16 households.

·       Provide an additional full-time staff who will provide housing retention case management to 30 participants to ensure that the most chronically homeless individuals who are placed in permanent housing remain stably housed;

·       Implement a pilot program that will expand outreach capacity to engage an additional 40 homeless individuals per week in public spaces and City facilities, as well as those who have frequent contact with first responders; and

·       Coordinate a comprehensive system of care at Santa Monica High School that follows a Wellness Center model of service delivery to improve physical and mental health outcomes for over 500 high-school aged youth.

 

Human Services Grants Program - Enhanced Data Management

In order to refine the methods used to track and measure the community impact sought through the HSGP, it will be necessary to standardize data collection and improve reporting capacity for all HSGP funded programs. Standardized data collection and reporting allows for the tracking of outcomes across programs in a uniform way, improving program monitoring and creating better accountability. In an effort to bring these benefits to all HSGP program areas, staff has engaged a consultant to provide a preliminary assessment of data needs and determine what data is currently being collected, what additional data may be useful for planning purposes, and what type of centralized data collection system would be most appropriate. This ability to collect holistic and uniform data across a variety of populations and household types will provide meaningful data that will drive real and positive change in the community.  Furthermore, staff will align HSGP data efforts with the City’s Wellbeing Project, which provides data from residents, City departments, and social media that will help inform policies, focus resources, and catalyze partnerships with the goal of helping individuals and groups achieve positive progress more quickly.

 

Cultural/Art OSP Proposal Review Process

The RFP for the next four-year funding cycle of OSP was issued on February 5, 2015 with a deadline of March 23, 2015.  The City received 15 submittals totaling $703,531 in requests in response to the RFP, more than $440,000 over the FY2014-15 allocation for the program. Three applications were from organizations that had not previously submitted and all but one of the organizations that submitted met the program’s eligibility requirements. The proposed OSP Plan for FY2015-19 (Attachment B) identifies each nonprofit cultural organization proposed for funding.

 

According to the guidelines and criteria approved by Council, all proposals were subjected to a rigorous review process by a group of readers, recognized professionals in their respective fields, who were selected for their expertise in the cultural and organizational activities of the applicants. The review process was designed to be as objective and transparent as possible, with each application reviewed by multiple readers, as well as by Cultural Affairs staff. Readers for the FY2015-19 OSP included regional experts in the areas of cultural heritage, music, theater, dance, visual arts, nonprofit management, and community arts organizations.

 

Staff compiled the readers’ comments and evaluations and developed funding recommendations based on the applicant’s overall ranking and budget size. The attached funding plan recommends that grants be awarded to 13 agencies which serve the community with a broad range of arts and cultural programs. The total recommended FY2015-16 funding level for the 13 agencies combined is $330,600.  This represents an increase of $70,000 over the FY2014-15 funding level due to both the increase in the number of eligible applicants, the overall growth of a number of the organizations, and the findings of the 2014 community assessment process.

 

The Santa Monica Museum of Art (SMMoA), one of the city’s longstanding core arts organizations, submitted an application that was highly ranked overall. The organization is currently in transition due to the loss of its Bergamot location. Therefore, continued City support is particularly important at such time.  However SMMoA may not be operating in Santa Monica in the short term while it identifies and secures temporary space, and as such would not meet the grant guidelines.  Staff has reserved a portion of the proposed overall OSP funding allocation for FY2015-16 for future use by SMMOA and proposes to return to Council with a funding recommendation for the Museum when the organization is able to identify the anticipated level of Santa Monica based programming for the coming year.

 

Commission Action

Human Services Grants Program

In November 2014 and January 2015, staff conducted public meetings with eight City commissions, advisory boards, and task forces to gain public input and receive feedback that informed the FY2015-19 Human Services Grants Program Funding Rationale approved by Council on January 27, 2015.

 

Specifically, the proposed HSGP funding recommendations were presented to the Social Services Commission at its May 18 meeting, the Commission on the Senior Community and Child Care and Early Education Task Force at their May 20 meetings, and the Cradle to Career Work Group at their May 27 meeting. The proposed funding recommendations will be presented to the Disabilities Commission and Virginia Avenue Park Advisory Board at their June 1 meetings and to the Commission on the Status of Women at its June 10 meeting.

 

Cultural/Art OSP

The Arts Commission received an update on the OSP grants review process and proposed funding recommendations at its regular meeting on May 18, 2015. 

 

Public Outreach

Human Services Grants Program

Since November 2014, City staff has facilitated various meetings and discussions with agency executive directors, SMMUSD administrators, SMMUSD PTA Council, various SMMUSD District Advisory Committees, community groups and stakeholders. These discussions identified priorities and community needs for services to lowincome and special needs households and were utilized to establish strategies and objectives to guide federal and local funding decisions. 

 

The availability of HSGP funding was noticed in the Santa Monica Daily Press in the February 6 and February 7-8 editions, released to a mailing list of 194 organizations, and announced on the City’s website. City staff held a Request for Proposals (RFP) Workshop on February 10 to provide prospective applicants with an orientation on the City’s policy guidelines and funding priorities.  Upon the release of the FY2015-19 HSGP funding recommendations, agencies and members of the public may provide comments directly to City staff. Contact information is available at www.smgov.net/hsd.  A summary of comments will be forwarded to Council as part of the June 23 approval of the FY2015-19 HSGP. 

 

Cultural/Art OSP

Information regarding the availability of the OSP grants was broadly disseminated and made available on the City’s website.  In addition, staff held two information sessions at the Ken Edwards Center on February 26 and 28, 2015 to answer questions about the application process.

 

Alternatives

The recommended grant awards and funding levels are the result of a thorough review process and careful consideration. As a matter of practice, staff considers tradeoffs, seeks out all sources of funding (beyond the General Fund) and develops strategies to efficiently and effectively allocate limited public dollars. Should Council identify concerns with the proposed funding recommendations, staff requests that Council provide explicit guidance in prioritizing funding reallocations so that staff can develop updated  recommendations to  fully address Council concerns.

 

Financial Impacts & Budget Actions

There is no immediate financial impact or budget action necessary as a result of the recommendations in this report. Funding recommendations for both the HSGP and Cultural/Art OSP exceed the current maintenance of effort level. Funding levels will be contingent upon Council approval of the proposed FY2015-17 Biennial Budget on June 23, 2015.  Budget authority for subsequent years of the four year grant cycle will be submitted for Council approval.

 

Prepared by:          Jessica Cusick, Cultural Affairs Manager

                              Setareh Yavari, Human Services Manager

                             

 

Approved:

 

Forwarded to Council:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Karen Ginsberg

Director, Community & Cultural Services

 

Elaine Polachek

City Manager

 

Attachments:

A        Proposed Human Services Grants Program Awards

B        Proposed Organizational Support Program Awards