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Tyer Announces Final Round of ARPA Community Awards
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
04:18AM / Thursday, June 30, 2022
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Mayor Linda Tyer announces the last of the city's American Rescue Plan Act community awards to 19 organizations totaling $2.9 million on Wednesday.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Mayor Linda Tyer has announced the last of the city's American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) community awards to 19 organizations totaling $2.9 million.

"When Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act, it emphasized the importance of investing in post-pandemic recovery, especially for people who had been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic," Tyer explained at a press conference in the council chambers on Wednesday.

"Even in our community forums, we heard over and over again that there are Pittsfield residents of all ages who were negatively affected by COVID-19. So in this way, Congress and the community are aligned in their mission and when we set about our work as an internal team, we knew we had a calling."

Pittsfield was allocated about $41 million in federal ARPA funds that must be spent by 2026. Tyer added that the administration is pleased to bring the "valuable resource" to community partners.

The city received a total of 28 community-based proposals.

18 Degrees Early Education Family Center received the largest allocation of $600,000 to add family liaisons to its early education and care team with a goal of ensuring that Pittsfield families and children receive support in class and at home to promote positive and adaptive development and behaviors.

The Brien Center, which provides behavioral health care, received $400,000 to enhance the utilization of its Fenn Street campus with a new electronic health records system and a transportation program for city clients.

Members of the Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center attended the press conference to applaud the center's $100,000 allocation for capital improvements to Camp Stevenson-Witawentin on Churchill Street.  

It is a summer day camp for girls on Onota Lake that offers traditional programming and prevention education.

CEO Kelly Marion said the camp has not seen significant investment since 1999. It will be used to refurbish some of its cabins and bring them up to code with the hope of welcoming more girls to the property and having more community groups use it.

"Summer camp is a beautiful experience that's really sometimes unaffordable for a lot of families in the community," she explained.

"So for us, we run a campership drive to be able to offset costs for a lot of our children and families to be out there and to increase the capacity is a way that we're able to increase the usage and get kids into safe and fun summer programs. Summer recreation is really, really important and we build a lot of learning into the summer camp experience and I think that makes us a little different than most general camps. It's not about the sports, it's about the learning and the life skills and skill-building that takes place out there."

Development and Communications Manager Abigail Allard added that it also closes the education gap that happens with kids in the summer.

Another goal is to have the camp be at the same level of quality as its private counterparts.

"We want to be able to use it, you know, from Memorial Day through Columbus Day, and have as many people on the property as possible," Marion said.

"And give that experience, especially to families that are under-resourced. To have a safe, beautiful property to go spend time on with your family is important."

The center was previously awarded Community Preservation Act funding by the city to build a quarter-mile-long "Eureka! Learning Trail" trail at the camp that is named after its STEM skills program. The trail is set to be built this summer in cooperation with another nonprofit Greenagers.

In April, Tyer announced the first $5.9 million round of community awards. Both rounds total $8.9 million.

The next step for awardees is to get contracts underway and by early September, Tyer said the administration will make another announcement about a "big" investment it is working toward.

"They're the experts in their fields and we're a stronger community because we have strong networks between government and our community partners," Tyer said about the funding recipients.

"And so, again, I was just impressed with the new initiatives, the creativity, the dedication to the people they serve in their individual organizations, which has a ripple effect and community."

This round of community awards:

18 Degrees Early Education Family Care: $600,000 – for the addition of family liaisons to the Early Education and Care team to ensure that Pittsfield families and children receive in-class and at-home support to promote positive and adaptive development and behaviors.

Berkshire Center for Justice: $50,000 – to expand pro bono legal services in response to the significant increase in hardships caused by the pandemic related to employability and housing.

Berkshire Civic Ballet: $51,920 – to promote the health and well-being of Pittsfield children through movement and dance class scholarships.

Berkshire Community College: $70,000 – for BCC's partnership with Lever's summer Berkshire Internship program to provide Pittsfield students with access to paid internships at Pittsfield businesses.

Berkshire County Arc: $50,000 – to establish a day center in the Westside to help people with disabilities gain independent living skills, including job training.

Berkshire County Regional Housing Authority: $240,000 – to support healthy community relationships through the expansion of the Family/School Dispute Resolution Program including mediation, restorative justice, and conflict resolution.

Berkshire Dream Center: $245,000 – to support the care and assistance needed for the under-resourced Morningside residents by helping the Berkshire Dream Center to replace its roof and related repairs.

Berkshire Music School: $20,000 – to support the renovations needed to create post-pandemic safe air quality in rehearsal and performance spaces used by music students of all ages.

Berkshire Nursing Families: $10,000 – for the post-COVID re-opening and expansion of lactation and parenting support programs for Pittsfield mothers and babies.

Berkshire Theatre Group: $220,000 – to create a new three-year job training program by connecting Pittsfield high school students with skilled professionals in a variety of theater careers.

• Brien Center: $400,000 – as a provider of community-based behavioral health care, these funds will enhance the utilization of their Fenn Street Campus and implement a new electronic health records system to improve the delivery of mental health care services, and implement a transportation program for Pittsfield clients.

Child Care of the Berkshires: $125,000 – for the renovation of the Norman Rockwell Early Childhood Center to create healthy post-pandemic spaces for daycare programming and developmental screenings for Pittsfield children.

Community Legal Aid: $30,000 – to address the increased need for legal aid caused by the pandemic by expanding Pittsfield residents' access to free legal services related to housing and employment.

Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center: $100,000 – for capital improvements to the center's summer camp so that children experience enhanced outdoor activities, social services, and life skills development.

Jacob's Pillow: $30,000 – to fund dance experiences for Pittsfield Public School students, establish a Pittsfield-based dance residency program, and provide community-based dance workshops in Pittsfield.

Mass Audubon: $160,000 – for Morningside school students to participate in a free, four-week summer camp at Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary.

Pediatric Development Center: $65,000 – for the creation of an outdoor therapy space for Pittsfield children to enhance their growth in motor skills and social development.

Pittsfield Economic Revitalization Corporation (PERC): $350,000 – to expand PERC's technical assistance grants to small businesses and to develop a new program in partnership with Downtown Pittsfield, Inc. for assisting downtown businesses with post-pandemic economic recovery.

Soldier On: $160,000 – to address delayed care caused by the pandemic by funding a nurse navigator to assist veterans in developing personal Wellness Action Plans and expanding access to health care resources and services.

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