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Nearly $6M to be distributed in first Pittsfield ARPA awards

A stone building with a colonnade.
Josh Landes

After months of deliberation, Pittsfield, Massachusetts has announced the first round of American Rescue Plan Act funding awards to organizations in the city.

All told, Pittsfield is receiving around $40 million in federal COVID-19 relief aid through ARPA, which President Joe Biden signed into law last March. In February, the city began accepting applications for community initiatives and programs that the windfall could be directed toward. On Thursday, Mayor Linda Tyer revealed the recipients.

“We received a total of 22 applications, community-based applications," she said. "18 of you are receiving awards today for a total of $5.9 million. So the four proposals that didn't qualify under our ARPA guidelines or our community criteria, we are committed to working with them because they also submitted good ideas that deserve our attention, and we will be making recommendations to them for other options that utilize different sources of funding.”

The door is not closed to groups still interested in receiving APRA funding.

“When we first released the invitation to apply, we set up a rolling application process," said Tyer. "We knew that this was a heavy lift for many organizations and wanted to make sure there was plenty of time for you to be creative and thoughtful about your application.”

The final deadline to apply is May 1st.

With that aside, Tyer dove into the awards.

“Arts In Recovery For Youth, $50,000 for an arts and skills based Suicide Prevention Program, targeted towards Pittsfield youth, ages 13 to 24," said the mayor. "Barrington Stage Company, $125,000 for the replacement and upgrades of the HVAC system at the St. Germain and Boyd-Quinson orchestra pit to provide healthy spaces for one of Pittsfield's most visited performing arts theater. Berkshire Black Economic Council, $700,000 to establish organizational operations and capacity for BBEC to offer technical assistance, educational workshops, and networking sessions for Pittsfield’s Black entrepreneurs and Black owned businesses. Berkshire Community Action Council, $500,000 to increase capacity of BCAC’s Weatherization Remediation Assistance Program by assisting under-resourced Pittsfield residents with home weatherization and heating systems. Berkshire County Headstart, $700,000 to provide free transportation and full day childcare and early education for Pittsfield families deemed ineligible for state-subsidized daycare.”

A quarter million dollars will go to the Berkshire YMCA for the renovation and expansion of its child care programs, while $80,000 will to the Berkshire Immigrant Center for the expansion of legal and educational services for immigrants living in Pittsfield.

“Berkshire Museum, $250,000 to create mobile museum units and offer classroom based portable programming in the Pittsfield public schools," continued Tyer. "Boys & Girls Club of the Berkshires, $500,000 for the installation of a new system, HVAC system for youth and families to enjoy healthy recreational spaces. Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity, $800,000 for the expansion of the Navigator Network and to provide resources to support Pittsfield residents, households, and small businesses impacted by the pandemic.”

The George B. Crane Memorial Center will receive $90,000 to offer recovery programs, support, and life skills for people struggling with substance use disorders.

“Goodwill Industries of the Berkshires, $200,000 for the roof replacement at the Tyler Street headquarters, where workforce training and support services are offered to Pittsfield residents,” said Tyer.

The IS183 Art School will take home $80,000 for arts programming in Pittsfield public schools, and MASS MoCA will receive $100,000 to expand its Assets For Artists program in the city.

“Rites of Passage and Empowerment, $550,000 to increase organizational capacity and expand programs for young women of color ages 12 to 18 to access college tours, travel opportunities, scholar stipends, and advancement of skills and professional development,” said Tyer.

Second Street Second Chances was awarded $700,000 to develop a collaborative, one-stop facility to support successful re-entry of formerly incarcerated Pittsfield residents into the community and workforce.

“South Community Food Pantry, $50,000 to address a systemic gap in food insecurity by renovating the food distribution space and expanding the home delivery program," said Tyer. "And finally, Volunteers In Medicine, $200,000 to expand and support the medical needs of under-resourced Pittsfield residents.”

Recipients will now have to work with the city’s ARPA Fund Managers Deanna Ruffer and Gina Armstrong – formerly Pittsfield’s Director of Public Health – to get contracts in place for the awards to be allocated.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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