Wyden, Merkley Introduce Bill to Help Non-profits during Pandemic

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley said today they are introducing legislation that would help nonprofit organizations in Oregon and nationwide meet an increase in demand for their services due to the coronavirus pandemic while helping newly unemployed Americans get back to work.

“Nonprofits have been hit with a one-two punch: giving is down, while demand for their services is at an all-time high with 36 million Americans out of work and struggling to put food on the table,” Wyden said. “Our bill would provide needed resources to overwhelmed charities and help connect them with workers who are unemployed. It’s critical that organizations like food banks have both the funding and manpower needed to serve their communities during this unprecedented economic and public health crisis.”

“Families across Oregon have powerful stories about how non-profits helped them feed their children, keep a roof over their head, and make ends meet. As we grapple with the social and economic consequences of this pandemic, and the burden being felt by vulnerable communities, those invaluable contributions are even more urgently needed than before,” said Merkley. “But between fewer resources and higher demand for their services, these organizations are facing serious challenges of their own. I’m urging my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to stand with them and the communities that rely on them by helping non-profits weather this storm.”

The Work Opportunities and Resources to Keep Nonprofit Organizations Well (WORK NOW) Act would create a major new grant program to help nonprofit organizations retain their employees, scale their service delivery, and provide unemployed men and women with new jobs serving their communities.

The bill comes when the need for many nonprofit services is soaring, charitable giving and other revenue streams have declined precipitously as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. With many nonprofits forced to lay off workers and cut back on services, this legislation would provide a major mobilization of resources so people can get back to work helping our nonprofit organizations meet the massive needs of this moment.

“Nonprofits are on the frontline in communities across Oregon and across the nation and are vital to providing crucial and essential services, particularly to our most vulnerable populations,” said Jim White, Executive Director of the Nonprofit Association of Oregon  “This WORK NOW Act is vital for the sustainability and viability of nonprofits and we wholeheartedly endorse the bill.”

 “America’s 1.3 million charitable nonprofits embody the best of America. They feed, heal, shelter, educate, inspire, enlighten, and nurture people across the country. But with even more people relying on them now, nonprofits need help in meeting the enormous demand created by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Tim Delaney, President and CEO of the National Council of Nonprofits. “The WORK NOW Act is a crucial piece of legislation that will help nonprofits retain and rehire their employees, expand services to meet the skyrocketing human needs, and put newly unemployed men and women back to work for the common good.”

The program would be administered by the Treasury Department and allocations would be made to state, local and tribal governments—with all funding channeled to eligible nonprofits meeting needs that have increased as a result of the pandemic and the attendant economic crisis. National nonprofit organizations would be invited to apply directly to the Treasury Department on behalf of themselves and their local chapters across the nation. The majority of federal funding must be used for employee compensation—paying the wages, salaries and benefits of either existing employees or new employees. Some funding may also be used to help nonprofits innovate in delivering services in new ways to meet the challenges imposed by the pandemic.

In addition to Wyden and Merkley, other sponsors of the bill are U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tom Carper (D-DE), Ed Markey (D-MA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Chris Coons (D-DE). 

A web version of this release is here.

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