Systematically Deploying Federal Funds to Combat Racial Inequities

November 25, 2021

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FUSE Corps

The City of Kansas City, Missouri (KC) has received and distributed roughly half of the $195M in local federal relief from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The Mayor’s Office will partner with a FUSE Executive Fellow for one year to steward the distribution of KC’s second tranche of ARPA funds, launching and scaling programs that will accelerate recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and reduce disparities in outcomes for the Black KC residents hit hardest by the pandemic. 

This fellowship project begins on October 25, 2021, and ends on October 23, 2022. The fellowship begins with a multi-day virtual orientation the week of October 25, 2021. The selected Executive Fellow will begin their first day of providing services to the host agency on November 1, 2021. 

PROJECT CONTEXT 

Kansas City, Missouri (KC) is home to a diverse residential community, celebrated jazz traditions and heritage, beautiful fountains, famous barbecue, and multiple sports franchises. From 2007 to 2017, the downtown residential population in KC quadrupled – with the area ranking as the 6th-fastest-growing downtown in America. This growth in large part has been driven by Advance KC, a comprehensive strategic plan created to promote economic, workforce, and housing development, as well as other measures designed to grow the city’s economy, stabilize its population base, and raise levels of local wealth. However, Covid-19 now threatens this advancement, leaving KC’s low-income and minority residents particularly vulnerable to both the economic and health fallouts of the pandemic. Since the start of the pandemic, KC’s unemployment rate has risen above 10%, acutely affecting low-income and hourly workers. And Black KC residents make up 44% of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the city, despite comprising just 30% of the city’s population. These disparities are a result of long-standing inequities and historic disinvestment in Black neighborhoods in the city.

With this in mind, City leaders have, and are, taking bold steps to maintain progress toward economic security, public health, and racial justice. With the first infusion of federal funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, KC allocated $1M in emergency rental, rapid rehousing, utility, and nutrition assistance to low-income households experiencing economic or health impacts from COVID-19; and allocated $1.5 million to provide grants of up to $50,000 to small businesses throughout KC. Now, KC has received and distributed roughly half of the $195M in local federal relief from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). This first installment of ARPA funds was allocated to support previous initiatives and launch transformative and innovative programs, such as dedicating $12.5M to create a Housing Trust Fund. With roughly $97.5M in direct ARPA funding to still distribute and $2.7B from the State of Missouri expected to be distributed in early 2022, KC is preparing to maximize the city’s capacity to deploy these funds equitably.

Kansas City will partner with FUSE Corps to host an Executive Fellow for one year to support KC in distributing these funds, launching and scaling transformative programs that will accelerate recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and reduce disparities in outcomes for the Black KC residents hit hardest by the pandemic. The Executive Fellow will develop a framework to guide KC’s deployment of the second tranche of ARPA funds, infusing equity strategies and recommendations for additional funding opportunities to sustain progress. The Executive Fellow will also build the city’s capacity for pursuing grant funding opportunities, securing and utilizing match resources to scale the newly established Housing Trust Fund.

PROJECT SUMMARY & POTENTIAL DELIVERABLES

The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This summary and the potential deliverables will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the executive fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship, after which a revised scope of work will be developed and agreed upon by the FUSE fellow and the host agency

Starting in November 2021, it is proposed that the FUSE Executive Fellow will work to quickly build deep relationships with a range of critical stakeholders, including staff across city departments. The Executive Fellow will gain an understanding of the distribution patterns and priorities from KC’s first tranche of ARPA funds, lessons learned, and identify opportunities for how the funding can be best leveraged during the second installment. The Executive Fellow will further utilize these conversations to collate the key stakeholders, processes, and approaches to grantmaking, on both issue-specific and cross-departmental applications, throughout the city. The Executive Fellow will also conduct extensive research during the first few months, first, reviewing national best practices of other cities, especially for those who have taken an equity focus approach to budget distributions previously; and then mapping federal, state, regional and private competitive grant opportunities that intersect with ARPA funding.

The Executive Fellow will utilize this information to develop a framework to support KC in deploying the second tranche of ARPA funds. The framework will include recommendations around prioritization of investments, sustainment of currently funded initiatives, leverage of ‘match’ funding opportunities across applicable grants, timelines and phased infusion of funds, roles and responsibilities of stakeholders, and equity strategies and guidelines for developing and delivering ARPA funded programs. The Executive Fellow will have an acute focus on utilizing this framework to scale KC’s Housing Trust Fund. This will include establishing public-private partnerships, collating all currently available funding streams (private capital, Local Initiative Support Corporation, ARPA), and pursuing additional funding opportunities through grants. The Executive Fellow will serve as an expert on ARPA regulations, ensuring KC can advance the goals of the Trust Fund, among other initiatives, while remaining compliant to federal guidance. The Executive Fellow will also play an essential role in developing an evaluation framework and monitoring mechanisms for these ARPA investments. As disbursements are made, the Executive Fellow will track progress and institute continual process improvements to ensure program efficiency and effectiveness.

In the next phase, the Executive Fellow will build a strategic plan to support the city’s long-term capacity for pursuing grants and other unique funding opportunities. This strategy will explore creating a new office for grant development, determine roles and responsibilities of current personnel who manage these opportunities, recommend process improvements, and endorse a system or vendor for capturing new opportunities and sharing these opportunities with interested personnel. By October 2022, the Executive Fellow will have supported the successful distribution of KC’s ARPA funds, catalyzing and sustaining transformative programs to support recovery from Covid-19. This will include the following: 

  • Review current landscape – Engage with a wide range of stakeholders throughout the city; analyze prior ARPA distributions, identify gaps and opportunities; evaluate current grant development processes, map pain points, assess staff needs and capacity issues; research national best practices on equity in budgeting, assessing applicability locally
  • Research federal, state, regional, or private grant funding, prioritizing opportunities – Identity and additional funding opportunities that relate to, intersect with, or support ARPA investments from a variety of sources; leverage ‘match’ funding opportunities across applicable grants; work with city staff to complete applications and manage grant processes
  • Develop distribution framework, support delivery of ARPA-funded investments – Form recommendations for maximizing the impact of these funds; layout timelines and phased infusion of funds, ensuring the flexibility of city finances going forward and the long-term viability of suggested investments; establish equity strategies and guidelines for developing and delivering ARPA funded programs; provide support for city staff in following federal guidance and city ordinances; scale KC’s Housing Trust Fund utilizing new ARPA funds and the new framework
  • Determine how to measure outcomes and assess progress – Analyze and monitor ARPA investments, defining KPIs and metrics for success; determine monitoring mechanisms, evaluate the performance of projects and provide opportunities for reflection, creating space for continual improvement throughout implementation; publish reports on program progress and results for City Council, the public, and federal regulatory requirements
  • Support long-term sustainability, ensuring equity is centered in all efforts – Leverage assessment of KC’s current capacity to apply for and secure competitive grants funding from federal, regional, state, and private/non-profit sources; develop a strategic plan to build internal capacity cross-departmentally; explore and produce recommendations (a new office, policy/process changes, additional personnel, etc.) that will enable the city to more aggressively pursuing unique funding opportunities; recognize and utilize these efforts to rectify the disproportionate impact of Covid-19, historical discrimination, and disinvestment on Black and Hispanic residents of Kansas City

KEY STAKEHOLDERS

  • Executive Sponsor – Morgan Said, Deputy Chief of Staff, Mayor’s Office
  • Project Supervisor – AJ Herrmann, Director of Policy, Mayor’s Office

QUALIFICATIONS

  • Approximately 15 years of professional experience in policy and budget analysis for multi-million-dollar investments
  • Well-versed in grant application processes and management, having successfully cultivated federal, state, and regional grant awards
  • Previous experience building out a grant development program or ‘shop’ at a non-profit or civic institution preferred
  • Strong commitment to advancing equity
  • Acute data acumen, having designed metrics, managed key performance indicators, and performed outcome evaluations
  • Strong change management skills, facilitating process improvements to maximize staff and resource capacity
  • Proven ability to meet deadlines, manage and deliver on complex multi-year projects
  • Excellent stakeholder engagement skills and cross-cultural agility, relating to a wide variety of diverse audiences with strong emotional intelligence and empathy
  • Superior critical thinking and analytical skills, with the capacity to quickly elevate their thinking from down in the tactical weeds of day-to-day operations to a higher level
  • Experience working in politically sensitive or bureaucratic environments
  • Creative problem solver with the ability to sustain progress within potentially ambiguous environments
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills with ease in public presentations
  • Strong cross-team collaborator
  • A self-motivated, entrepreneurial, goal-oriented leader who can work independently
  • Ability to synthesize complex information into clear and concise recommendations
  • Understands the need for solutions to support all people in a community regardless of race, religion, gender, immigration status, or ethnicity

FUSE Corps is an equal opportunity employer with a core value of incorporating diverse perspectives into our work at every level. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.

 

FUSE Corps is an equal opportunity employer with a core value of incorporating diverse perspectives into our work at every level. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.
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