This specially curated library of resources will help you plan for community revitalization, so you are ready to go when the coronavirus outbreak passes. Even with the uncertainly we face, now—not later—is the time for community leaders to imagine their next, concrete action steps.
How to act now
When the pandemic passes, those who are ready to act will jump past those who saw COVID-19 as a brick wall rather than a speed bump on the road to community growth.
Rural America is both beautifully equipped and woefully undermanned for the fight ahead. In some ways, our small rural towns are built for times like these: we’re deeply connected with our neighbors, relying on deep-rooted and self-sufficient networks to face challenges head-on. And we’re all embedded with a bootstrap mentality, supporting each other in moments of crisis with or without outside help.
The resources here provide a foundation for community action now, but it must begin with a conversation—in your community—about your community’s aspirations. Experience has proved to us that communities need a formal process and committed community leaders.
Can your community muster the energy—even during this difficult time—to find a way forward? Preparing for the other side of this economic and health challenge? There truly are action steps that can set you on the path toward revitalization. We’re ready to act now. We hope you are, too.
– Atlas Community Studios
Zack, Libby, Alex H., Kate, and Lindsey
Funding Resources for Rural Communities
We have researched and compiled the best funding resources available for rural communities’ COVID-19 recovery. To save you time we’ve organized the information to help you find what you need fast. Use the link below to search by topic, eligible applicants, funding type, and match requirements. New resources will be added consistently.
Relief for individuals
The $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act – better known as the CARES Act – provides direct payments to individuals, loans and grants for small businesses, expanded unemployment insurance benefits, assistance for state and local governments, and much-needed relief for medical facilities, among other things.
So what does that mean for you?
- These payments are based on your 2019 adjusted gross income (or 2018 if you have not filed your 2019 tax return).
- To determine how much you will receive, review your most recent tax return from 2019 or 2018.
- If you are an eligible adult earning no more than $75,000 annually, you will receive $1,200 from the U.S. Treasury.
- If you are an eligible couple earning no more than $150,000 annually, you will receive $2,400 from the U.S. Treasury.
- Eligible families will receive an additional $500 for each child under the age of 17.
- If you are an eligible individual or couple but earned more than $75,000 or $150,000, respectively, you will still receive a direct payment from the U.S. Treasury at a decreased amount (unless you are phased out of the program at $99,000 or above for individuals and $198,000 or above for couples).
- If the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) already has your bank information on file, you will likely receive a direct deposit in April 2020.
- If the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does not have your bank information on file, you will be mailed a check in the coming months.
- Checks will be mailed to the address on your most recent tax return, but you can file a change of address with the IRS if you have moved since then.
For more information, visit the IRS and U.S. Treasury websites for updates.
What is Unemployment Insurance (UI)?
- Regulated by the U.S. Department of Labor and administered by each state, UI is a program that provides essential income to individuals who have lost their job, are willing and able to seek employment, and meet specific eligibility requirements.
- These benefits are provided to eligible individuals for up to 26 weeks a year.
- While each state administers their own UI program, all states must abide by the specific guidelines outlined in federal law making these benefits relatively universal across state lines.
The CARES Act included several unprecedented changes to the UI program as described below:
Who is eligible?
- Generally, UI benefits are available to anyone who has lost their full-time job—at no fault of their own—and is actively looking for work.
- Those who have willingly resigned or were fired for cause are typically not eligible.
- Additionally, the CARES Act extended UI benefits—through the temporary and federally-financed Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program—to those who are unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable to work because of COVID-19 and don’t qualify for traditional benefits.
- This includes the self-employed, independent contractors, and gig economy workers.
How can I apply?
- Generally, eligible individuals can apply online or via phone through their state’s unemployment office.
- If your application is not approved, you have the right to appeal the decision.
If I am approved, how much money will I receive?
- UI benefits are administered by each state and range from $200 to $550 a week (on average) depending on the state for up to 26 weeks.
- Additionally, the CARES Act allocated funding for those eligible to receive UI through their states by providing an additional federal benefit of $600 a week for up to 39 weeks—through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), respectively.
- While not covered under traditional UI benefits, the CARES Act provides temporary full funding for the first week of unemployment.
Depending on your salary, you can calculate how much you can expect to receive for your weekly benefit by using this simple formula:
State Benefit ($X) + CARES Act Benefit ($600) = Total UI Benefit
For more information, check your state’s unemployment office for weekly benefit estimates.
When do the expanded UI benefits, included in the CARES Act, expire?
- At this time, the extended benefits and pandemic program end by December 31.
- However, Congress has the ability to extend this timeline and expand program benefits during the legislative process.
Atlas + Partner Resources
Key COVID-19 Response Strategies for Development Finance Agencies
–Toby Rittner, DFCP, President & CEO, Council of Development Finance Agencies
COVID-19, the CARES Act, and what it all means for rural residents and communities
– Written by Alex Holland, Director of Policy & Community Development via Medium
USDA COVID-19 Federal Resource Guide
CO.STARTERS Recovery Guide – Resources to help small businesses recover during and after disaster
Mental Health + Substance Abuse Resources
–Resource submitted by Gary Bowers at Recovery Local
How we can help
We get it. There’s a lot of information being shared right now about how communities are being impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, and even more information about available programs and resources to assist individuals, small businesses, non-profits, and state and local governments. But with so much information at our fingertips, it’s really difficult to determine the next steps – especially for rural communities with infinite needs and finite resources.
Atlas is here to meet you where you are.
Together, we can create a roadmap to assess your current situation, develop a strategy based on your immediate needs and priorities, then execute.
- Assist with identifying federal and state grant/loan opportunities
- Assist with pursuing new federal and state grant/loan opportunities
- Outreach to federal agencies and congressional offices
- Assist with the implementation of immediate needs or existing strategic plans
- Prioritize projects
- Identify partners and build a coalition
- Identify public and private funding opportunities
- Create action steps to determine roles/responsibilities
- Develop timeline for project execution