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By Tsiporah Nephesh, New Mexico Thrives

New Mexicans value fairness and justice. But too many of us have experienced the inequity of not having access to opportunity, land, water, or wealth.

Under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), New Mexico will receive $2.5 billion dollars for relief and recovery. Decision makers must prioritize equity when distributing the ARPA funds, and if they do, it could be transformational for New Mexico.

New Mexicans are tired of solutions that result in little perceptible benefit. To get to where we want to be in our communities and state, we need to pursue bold ideas. We need to draw upon the richness of our cultural traditions and values to stay connected to our past, construct a path to the future, and create innovative solutions in the present.

New Mexicans value the opportunity to work hard and make a difference for their families and communities. However, it often feels like opportunities go to those with connections. We need to insist on an open transparent process for the distribution of the ARPA funds, with lots of communication. If people, nonprofits, and businesses are unaware of opportunities to apply for funding, then the effect is the same as being denied.

New Mexicans value family and community. Through ARPA, we have an opportunity to invest in our communities and make a difference for generations to come, but we can't be passive about it. To get the results we want, we need to be clear about our expectations and communicate them to our elected officials.

Decisions will be made at every level of government: state, county, and municipal. If we want to see ARPA funds make significant change in New Mexico, the process must be transparent and have community input.

An excellent way to prioritize equity is to involve nonprofits that work with marginalized communities. Investing ARPA funds in the work of nonprofits will reap benefits now and into the future. Nonprofits are economic multipliers: providing employment, purchasing goods, providing supports and services to enable others to participate in the workforce.

Nonprofits are the ultimate shovel ready projects for investment. They are ready to rehire or hire more employees to expand service delivery. Increased funding to nonprofits increases their ability to contract with small businesses.

Accountability is necessary to ensure that funds are not wasted or subjected to abuse. Transparency is imperative to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to apply for funding and that the funds are appropriately used. Charitable nonprofits represent the most transparent segment of the economy.

When the pandemic hit New Mexico, nonprofits did not hesitate to respond. Despite loss of revenue and volunteers, nonprofits adapted and delivered. They provided food, emergency shelter, and other vital services. As trusted voices in communities, nonprofits were able to share crucial information regarding the latest developments and guidelines. Nonprofits helped community members find and access available resources.

Charitable nonprofits are integral to our communities. Investing in nonprofit resilience is an investment in everyone’s economic future and well-being.

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