In a second proposal to Grant County commissioners at their regular meeting Thursday, Oct. 10, Lisa Jimenez presented a funding request from the Hidalgo Medical Services Nonprofit Resource Group, affiliated with the National Center for Frontier Communities.

"We are building effective non-profits for a stronger community," Jimenez said. "I want to let the public know that their commissioners are good stewards of public funds. They have asked me tough questions."

She said the Nonprofit Resource Group, which is part of the 10-year-old National Center for Frontier Communities, is based in Grant County and contracts with HMS to provide services. The office is at 902 Santa Rita Street in the HMS Center for Health Innovations office.

"We're like a chamber of commerce, personal consultant and service provider rolled into one," Jimenez said. "We work with non-profit organizations. We have a 90-minute facilitated assessment process, then we create work plans and match consultants, and next we monitor the process closely.

"Our model is based on the 10 best practices for providing consultation to nonprofits," Jimenez continued.

She talked about the collective impact program, addressing two issues that came out in the 2012 Grant County Community Health Council assessment survey. The issues are affordable housing and activities for children and youths.

"We received $50,000 from the Freeport McMoran Community Investment Fund, but we don't feel comfortable competing with our own clients for Freeport money," Jimenez said. "That's why we're reaching out to local governments."

In the past year, the Nonprofit Resource Group has provided 500 hours in strategic consulting to long-term clients, in addition to 200 hours of no-cost "curbside consulting," where nonprofits may drop in Wednesday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon.

"I counsel on the responsibilities that go along with receiving a 501c3 non-profit designation," Jimenez said.

"In the collective impact program, we are trying to work closely with the Health Council to address some of the more challenging community problems," she said.  

"Why is strengthening the nonprofit sector important?" Jimenez asked rhetorically.

"The economy is still sluggish, people still need services from the nonprofit sector," she answered. "Nonprofits are a huge piece of the social safety net. They are an economic force. The sector employees almost 10 percent of Grant County residents and gross revenues annually are nearly $12 million in the county. Nonprofits attract visitors and provide volunteer opportunities. There are 120 self-identified nonprofits in the county."

"Our proposal is to provide vital, strategic, capacity-building services to stabilize and strengthen the nonprofits in the county," Jimenez said. "We want to organize the nonprofit sector to achieve getting rid of redundancies and increasing collaboration and cooperation. This provides a tremendous opportunity to maximize funding. We are one-stop shopping for nonprofits. We are developing a nonprofits' executive directors forum, and we want to improve advocacy skills among nonprofits."

"The third piece of our proposal is to build upon collective impact and promote affordable housing, including organizing an affordable housing fair," she continued.

The proposal includes specific measurable outcomes to make sure the dollars are well spent. "Our big goal is to make sure the nonprofit sector is stable, so there is no loss of services or jobs."

[She showed in her PowerPoint presentation testimonials from clients, but from this reporter's viewpoint, they were unreadable, in too small print.]

Jimenez said the proposal would be an efficient means of touching all Health Council priorities, creating a hub for nonprofits and providing measurable outcomes.

"We've already leveraged the funding, and we will continue to do so," Jimenez said. "The client pays a portion of the services, based on a sliding-fee scale. The county would be underwriting our services."

Commissioner Gabriel Ramos asked if Silver City had approved funding.

"If the county supports our $30,000 request, Town Manager Alex Brown said Silver City would give $15,000," Jimenez said.

Ramos pointed out that the town's funding comes from gross receipts taxes, but the county's is from property taxes. "Why us $30,000 and Silver City, $15,000?"

"It was suggested that the funding come from $10,000 each of the commissioners' discretionary funding," Jimenez said.

"I would prefer my money sticks to projects such as renovating the Business and Conference Center," Ramos said. "Because the bond didn't pass, we will have to use our discretionary funds for projects we need to have funded. The pie is only so big, and resources are tight."

Commissioner Ron Hall said he and Jimenez had had a lengthy discussion. "We have to be careful, because our funds are few and the needs are great. I think sustainability is important, and I have no problem getting groups going, but I don't want them coming back every year."

"It does help the county," Jimenez said. "You have nonprofits come to you. This is an opportunity to give funding to one organization, and we will provide the services. We are working to be sustainable."

"You are in competition with those who come to us," Hall said.

"If you provide to us, we can meet the needs, and we have a clear process to meet goals," Jimenez said.

"If Silver City commits, we'll consider it, but not if we do it then he would do it," Hall said.

"If you didn't get the funds, what other options do you have?" Ramos asked.

"We have a request to the McCune Foundation for $12,000," Jimenez said. "Our Con Alma dollars are being used in Eddy County. One thing to make us sustainable was becoming a part of the National Center for Frontier Communities. We will not go to Freeport again. Without funding, we will not be able to provide long-term services. I think our services address human needs, as well as from an economic development point-of-view."

This concludes the reports from the Commission's October 10 regular meeting.

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