After a fund balance workshop earlier in the day, the Children’s Trust of Alachua County Board approved the use of $2.5 million at a regular meeting on Monday.
The recommended plan splits the funds into CTAC’s three goals, established in a recently approved strategic plan.
A fund balance of $1.1 million is allocated for Goal 1: “Children and youth are healthy and have nurturing caregivers and relationships.” This money will go to local programs that provide services like feeding children and offering them free healthcare and counseling.
Goal 2 is that “all children and youth can learn what they need to be successful.” This goal will receive about $4.8 million in FY24 to fund summer camps, enrichment, afterschool programs and other related activities.
Goal 3, “Children and youth live in a safe community,” receives almost $540,000 this year for youth mentoring and other safety-related, community-building programs.
CTAC Executive Director Marsha Kiner said the new strategic plan, which will determine what future percentages will be spent on different goals, is currently in its first phase, where the new priorities have not yet taken effect.
While the goals are labeled as receiving 50%, 35% and 10% of the funding respectively, their actual numbers for this year are unrelated to those percentages because this year’s programs are already fully funded. Next year, the percentages will become reality and programs turning in requests for proposal (RFPs) will need to fit into their allotment, based on which goal they fit.
Several funded programs also throw the numbers off because they are multi-year contracts, and the remaining 5% of the budget will go to community capacity building, a collaboration with school leaders, teachers, parents and community organizations to help them institute their own changes in the community.
In addition to the increased fund balance of $2.5 million, Director of Program Operations Kristi Goldwire recommended an additional $839,000 in unallocated funds. The unallocated money is meant to act as a bridge between this year’s funding amounts and the percentages used for FY25.
The new percentages will put restrictions on spending to keep it proportional to the goals’ priority levels. Speaking about summer programs in particular, Goldwire said the new plan will either reduce the number of programs funded or how they are funded.
“It’s going to be imperative that we tell the people that are getting money for the next year that they may not get it next year,” Board member Lee Pinkoson said during the workshop.
The transition to a new strategic plan with more deliberate boxes for funding has already left some organizations without the CTAC aid they normally receive. At a CTAC meeting on July 10, representatives from several programs complained during public comment that their applications had been rejected because they had not fit the requirements listed or had missed a document when uploading the application.
One frustrated nonprofit representative was Bishop Christopher Stokes, executive director of Willie Mae Stokes Community Center.
“My concern is that we have done everything that I felt like we needed to do,” Stokes told the Board in the July meeting. “If we did not score high enough, I would be fine with that, but we don’t even have a score because of whatever those missing attachments were... I just know that the community center has missed, yet again, another opportunity.”
A week later, CTAC received a letter from Stokes, presented as a formal protest and request for reconsideration. In the letter, Stokes claimed the “missing” 990 form was attached to his application for funding, and that by denying him funding CTAC was missing its goal to expand afterschool program funding.
In a response letter dated July 28, Kiner granted Stokes the $157,034 funding he had requested, stating that upon further review the Micanopy-based community center provides valuable community support.
That funding raised the number of CTAC-funded afterschool programs from six to seven when the board approved it Monday.