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Monday, October 18, 2021

The Alachua County Commission decided Tuesday to consider changing part of the funding process for county nonprofit organizations.

The funding program, called the Community Agency Partnership Program, helps fund nonprofit organizations like the Early Learning Coalition, Peaceful Paths Domestic Abuse Network and Catholic Charities.

The process for funding begins when an organization fills out an application. On the application, the organization must specify what type of issues it provides services for.

Organizations currently file under four categories: food, health care, housing/utilities and children's programs. The commission decided to look into reducing the number of categories from four to two: those that provide food services and those that provide child and family services.

The commission voted unanimously to pass the issue along to county staff. Commissioner Mike Byerly was absent.

There was some disagreement about whether the reduction would over-complicate the application process.

"The application process went beautifully last year," said Lee Roberts, the director of the funding program. "There was no confusion. Each agency knew exactly what it fell under."

Roberts said having two categories may confuse organizations that want to apply. Because of the wording of the category names, Roberts worried people may think only programs that provide child services will be awarded money under the second category.

Commissioner Lee Pinkoson, who came up with the two categories, said there was no need for four categories.

"We cannot solve all of the county's problems," Pinkoson said. "We should focus as much as possible on children and families because that is the root of the poverty issue."

Anthony Clarizio, director of ElderCare of Alachua County, said the commission should create a definition for a "family." Clarizio said the elderly should not be forgotten during that process.

"If everyone funds children and families, then there won't be very many organizations left to fund seniors," Clarizio said.

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Last year, the program awarded about $1 million to 27 county nonprofit organizations.

Commissioner Paula DeLaney said the amount of money given to the program will probably stay at about $1 million. However, because of upcoming cuts to the county's budget, she said county money allotted to the funding program will not increase.

The commission is expected to discuss the funding program more at future commission meetings.

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