Fifty-nine San Antonio nonprofit agencies are receiving $36.4 million in COVID-19 emergency relief funds to better serve local senior citizens, youth and families.

City Council on Feb. 2 approved a new allocation of American Rescue Plan Act money based on recommendations from city staffers who alongside community funders and stakeholders evaluated 97 organizations that answered a Request For Proposals last fall.

The city said it received original proposals totaling $145.6 million. Local officials said applicants had to demonstrate how they would use awarded ARPA funds to shore up their organization while responding to COVID’s financial effects.

Applicants also had to show how they would use awarded money to better help residential clients—especially youth, seniors, families and the homeless—including assistance with education, employment, housing stability, food security, transportation, access to online services and digital devices, and physical and mental health care.

“San Antonio’s nonprofit community provides a host of essential services to our city and is crucial to bringing resources to aid our vulnerable residents as they still recover from the aftermath of the pandemic,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said in a statement.

Six organizations each received the lowest awarded amount of $100,000—San Antonio Hope Center, Musical Bridges Around the World, Good Samaritan Community Services, 1 Church, 1 Soul Ministry, Child Advocates San Antonio, and San Antonio Community Resource Directory.

The biggest awards included $1.28 million to the American GI Forum National Veterans Outreach Program, $798,455 for YMCA of Greater San Antonio’s Y Forever Well program and $1.77 million to the Children’s Shelter of San Antonio to extend outpatient mental health for children who have experienced abuse, neglect and abandonment.

The council also approved $1.38 million to YMCA of Greater San Antonio’s youth mental health services and $881,358 to Rise Recovery to enhance its Inspire Academy, which helps youth in drug and alcohol recovery.

Additionally, $2.52 million was awarded to the Central for Health Care Services to collaborate with Family Service, Rise Recovery, and Clarity Child Guidance Center on providing therapy, medication and gap funding for youths' mental health care hospitalizations.

District 8 Council Member Manny Pelaez unsuccessfully proposed an amendment, suggesting shifting some awarded funds from The University of Texas at San Antonio, UT Health San Antonio and Communities In Schools toward local nonprofits dedicated to addressing domestic violence.

Some council members responded family violence is an important issue but voiced a desire to proceed with the city staff’s recommendations.

Per federal requirements, the approved organizations have to plan the use of the awarded ARPA funds through fall 2024.

Simon Salas, Good Samaritan Community Services CEO, said all the local nonprofits and social service agencies deserve some type of financial assistance, but he understands not everyone can receive ARPA funding. He added that delaying action on the ARPA money would negatively affect the nonprofit community and the city as a whole.

“This process has made us stronger and more willing and able to collaborate with each other,” Salas also said. "Equity delayed is equity denied."

City Manager Erik Walsh said the ARPA funds will help counter deep systemic and historic inequities in community services and mental health care.

"By leveraging funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, the city is investing in programs that enhance, expand and strengthen safety nets for residents, strengthen education and workforce programming, and improve behavioral and mental health services,” Walsh said in a statement.