Bloomington’s city council awards $319K in social services grants

At its meeting on Wednesday, Bloomington’s city council accepted the recommendation of its Jack Hopkins social services funding committee and approved the allocation of $318,795 in funding for requests from 24 different nonprofits.

Annotated R Bar Chart History of Jack Hopkins Funding 2020 Apps

The program has awarded almost $4.5 million dollars to local social services nonprofits since 1993. In the last few years, the amount has been around $300,000 each year.

The top award this year went to Hoosier Hills Food Bank, which received $30,000 for a COVID-19 food purchasing project.

South Central Community Action Program received $25,000 to continue is Covering Kids and Families program. The Shalom Community Center received $21,000 for an exterior painting and floor upgrade. Catholic Charities received $20,278 for a therapist’s salary and benefits. And Pantry 279 received $20,000 for use toward either a cargo truck or executive director compensation. A table of all the awards is included at the end of this article.

The project description for each agency is baked into the funding agreement—the money has to be spent on the project that’s described.

That means that Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky has to spend its $11,134 on colposcopy equipment and related expenses, not abortion services.

Opposition to the allocation to Planned Parenthood came during public comment time from Carole Canfield who objected to the group’s provision of abortion services. Canfield said the nonprofit had not stopped providing abortion services during the COVID-19 health emergency, even when non-necessary procedures were supposed to halted. That was “just not acceptable,” Canfield said.

Canfield was also opposed to the $4,000 grant to All Options Pregnancy Resource Center to buy diapers and wipes. She described the group as “a front for referring abortions.” Diapers are a legitimate need, she said, but other groups provide diapers.

Also objecting to the allocation to Planned Parenthood was Chris Connell, who said that the resources that Planned Parenthood receives from other sources meant that the local funding provided by the Jack Hopkins fund was not needed. From his point of view Connell said, “they are killing babies.”

Councilmember Sue Sgambelluri, who served on the Jack Hopkins committee, said she’d received a lot of emailed messages opposed to funding Planned Parenthood. She divided them into two categories. Some were opposed to funding the colposcopy equipment because they were concerned about commingling of funds that were used for abortion services. Sgambelluri said that through phone calls to the agency she was convinced that the money could not be used for abortions.

The second kind of objection Sgambelluri identified was that the colposcopy equipment was used to help diagnose disease caused by bad behavior and that Planned Parenthood would be encouraging that bad behavior. Sgambelluri said the logic fell apart when she compared it to the idea that an oncologist who treats lung cancer is encouraging people to smoke.

The council’s vote on the funding was unanimous.

As a part of resolution approved by the council, the Jack Hopkins committee structure was altered from five councilmembers and two citizens to four councilmembers and three citizens. The citizen members are appointed by the committee chair, which this year was councilmember Susan Sandberg.

This year only four councilmembers were appointed, so the resolution in one way just ratified this year’s practice.

Councilmember Isabel Piedmont-Smith asked her council colleagues in future years to consider having at least on person of color on the committee.

That would mean appointing Jim Sims, the only Black councilmember, to the committee or making at least one of the three citizen appointments a person of color. This year the two citizen appointments went to two white men.

One was Tim Mayer, who retired mid-term from the council in 2017. It was Sims who was chosen by the Democratic Party to replace Mayer.

The other citizen appointee this year was Mark Fraley, who’s associate director of the Indiana University Political and Civic Engagement (PACE) program, and former chair of the Monroe County Democratic Party.

The committee started its process in early May, by considering a total of $822,971 in requests from 37 different non-profits. That’s the highest amount of requests ever received by the committee since the fund was started in 1993. At its first meeting, the six-member committee, made up this year of four councilmembers and two other citizens, eliminated the applications of seven nonprofits, totaling $182,478.

The basic criteria for Jack Hopkins social services funding were first written down in a 1993 letter  by councilmember Jack Hopkins, after whom the fund was named. The resolution that named the fund after Hopkins, who was a professor at the Indiana University’s public and environmental affairs, was approved by the city council in 2002, the month after Hopkins died.

The complete set of applications for 2020 Jack Hopkins grants is available in the May 4, 2020 meeting packet.

Agency Grant Purpose
Hoosier Hills Food Bank $30,000 For COVID-19 food purchasing project.
South Central Community Action Program $25,000 To continue the Covering Kids and Families Program.
Shalom Community Center $21,000 For exterior painting and floor upgrade.
Catholic Charities Bloomington $20,278 For therapist salary and benefits.
Pantry 279, Inc. $20,000 For use toward either cargo truck or executive director compensation.
HealthNet Bloomington HealthCenter $19,590 To purchase requested dental equipment.
Amethyst House $18,000 To upgrade flooring in the Men’s house and other requested building upgrades.
Wheeler Mission $17,000 For personnel expenses.
Monroe County United Ministries $16,000 For computers & software, curriculum kits, and iSprout assessments.
Boys and Girls Club ofBloomington $15,000 For continued operations of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington through Community EmergencyRelief Programs.
Bloomington St. Vincent de PaulSociety Serving Monroe County $15,000 For supplemental rent program.
New Hope for Families $13,000 To expand family coordinator hours.
Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky $11,134 For colposcopy equipment and related expenses.
El Centro Comunal Latino $10,000 For financial assistance for Latino residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Habitat for Humanity of MonroeCounty $10,000 For bridge funding for build site preparation.
Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard $10,000 For bridge funding.
New Leaf – New Life $9,000 For expansion of hours for two existing part-time NLNL employees.
LIFEDesigns, Inc. $8,800 For residential support services.
Community Kitchen of MonroeCounty, Inc. $8,113 For warehouse pallet shelving and decking & battery and charger.
Bloomington Meals on Wheels,Inc. $7,260 To purchase electric meal transporters.
Courage to Change Sober Living $6,000 For Fresh Start rent subsidy program.
All Options Pregnancy Resource Center $4,000 To purchase diapers and wipes.
Middle Way House, Inc. $3,000 For purchase of climate control panel.
Monroe County CASA, Inc. $1,620 For security cameras and related equipment & resource materials.