The Lacey City Council on Thursday awarded $867,000 in community development block grants to several Thurston County nonprofit organizations, a week after those groups had lined up before the council and pitched their projects and funding needs.
In all, 11 organizations requested a total of $1.6 million in grant funds, which meant decisions needed to be made about how it would be divvied up. Some groups missed out on funding altogether.
After the nonprofits made their requests, the council general government committee met to come up with the recommendations they presented to the full council Thursday night.
Council members Michael Steadman and Jason Hearn recused themselves from the meeting after citing conflict of interest concerns. That left five council members, including its newest member, Rachel Young, who was sworn in as a member of the council before the work session.
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Young questioned why the committee didn’t recommend funding the Thurston EDC Center for Business & Innovation. They were seeking only $18,900, she said. The center had sought the money to provide scholarships to Lacey business owners so they could participate in the center’s business Tune Up program.
Mayor Andy Ryder said the grant funding requests are some of the hardest decisions the council makes.
“There’s not one that isn’t deserving of the funding,” Councilman Lenny Greenstein said of the nonprofit requests. “Unfortunately, there’s only so much we can do.”
Deputy Mayor Cynthia Pratt said the Center for Business & Innovation request didn’t “seem to rise to the level of extreme need.”
Greenstein said he expects the Center for Business & Innovation will raise the money and the program will continue.
The council ultimately voted unanimously to fund the following groups and projects:
▪ Evergreen Treatment Services: $250,000 to expand a clinic for opioid treatment.
▪ Thurston County Food Bank: $200,000 for a Lacey Food Bank.
▪ Community Action Council: $187,514 for a new Monarch Children’s Justice & Advocacy Center.
▪ Housing Authority of Thurston County: $75,000 for affordable housing.
▪ Community Youth Services: $70,500 for affordable housing.
▪ SideWalk: $50,000 for a veterans housing coordinator.
▪ Boys & Girls Clubs: $33,986 for homeless youth assistance.
Organizations that did not receive funding: Foundation for the Challenged, Homes First, Enterprise for Equity, and the Center for Business & Innovation.