Nonprofits hail anti-poverty aspects of COVID relief measure

President Joe Biden signs the American Rescue Plan, a coronavirus relief package, in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, March 11, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Joe Biden signs the American Rescue Plan, a coronavirus relief package, in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, March 11, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Nonprofit advocates have hailed Congress’ passage of a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief measure that has the potential to lift millions of people out of poverty at a scale not seen since the New Deal.

The legislation, signed by President Joe Biden on Thursday, expands a key loan program for nonprofits, boosts AmeriCorps funding and enacts or expands several programs aimed at providing direct relief to individuals.

Independent Sector, an advocacy coalition of foundations and nonprofits, said the legislation “contains important and hard-fought victories for the nonprofit sector and the people we serve during Covid-19 and these challenging economic times.”

However, the statement also complained that lawmakers omitted an expansion of the charitable deduction and said the Paycheck Protection Program is still far too restrictive.

Following is a summary of the key provisions of the measure that nonprofit advocates have been watching.

AMERICORPS

The legislation includes nearly $1 billion in funding over three years for AmeriCorps to expand national-service programs to respond to the pandemic. That’s a big boost: AmeriCorps budgets in recent years have hovered around $1 billion a year.

The funding will be primarily directed to existing programs to increase the living allowances paid to AmeriCorps members and expand their ranks, though AmeriCorps officials are still sorting out the details.