The WORK NOW Act will help nonprofit organizations meet increased service demand due to the coronavirus pandemic and help Americans return to work serving their communities.

In a letter, the Senators called on congressional leaders to include nonprofit relief in future aid packages.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), along with Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), reintroduced legislation to help nonprofit organizations meet an increase in demand for their services due to the coronavirus pandemic while helping newly unemployed Americans get back to work. The Work Opportunities and Resources to Keep Nonprofit Organizations Well (WORK NOW) Act will create a major new grant program to help nonprofit organizations retain their employees, scale their service delivery, and provide unemployed Americans with new jobs serving their communities. Companion legislation is being led in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Linda Sánchez (D-CA).

In addition to reintroducing this legislation, the Senators also sent a bicameral letter to congressional leaders calling for nonprofit relief in future aid packages. The letter emphasized the importance of passing the WORK NOW Act and ensuring nonprofits have the resources they need to help people through the pandemic. This letter, led by Klobuchar, was signed by Senators Schatz, Wyden, Brown, Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).

"From food banks, to shelters, to counseling centers, charitable organizations are doing incredible work to help people get through this pandemic,” Klobuchar said. “As demand for their services continues to soar, many of these organizations are struggling financially. We need to help charitable nonprofits keep their doors open, scale their invaluable services, and provide opportunities for unemployed Americans to return to work serving their communities.”

"Local nonprofits are leading the way as we rebuild our communities and our economy. In Hawai?i, these essential organizations are providing families with hot meals and child care, shelter for those who need it, and help for victims of domestic and sexual violence," Schatz said. "Our bill invests federal dollars into nonprofits so that they have the resources to hire more workers, expand their services, and help more people."

“Nonprofits have been hit with a one-two punch: giving is down, while demand for services is at an all-time high with millions Americans out of work, or working reduced hours, and struggling to put food on the table,” Wyden said. “Our bill would provide critical resources to overwhelmed nonprofits and help connect them with workers who are unemployed. It's critical that organizations like food banks have both the funding and manpower needed to serve their communities.”

“During this crisis, non-profits have stepped in to fulfill the needs of our communities,” Brown said. “But like many, they are feeling the financial strain of this pandemic, while the need for their services continues to grow. One of the best things we can do to provide relief for our communities is to help these organizations maintain the workforce needed to continue their services.”

“Nonprofit organizations provided some of the most essential services throughout this pandemic. This is especially true for our most vulnerable communities who relied on charitable nonprofit organizations for support in homeless shelters, food banks, and domestic violence shelters,” Sánchez said. “As they handle the increased demand and adhere to social health guidelines, these organization need help expanding services and hiring, training, and retaining employees. The WORK NOW Act will ensure our nonprofit organizations continue to meet the needs of our community and will help get Americans back to work.”

In addition to Klobuchar, Schatz, Wyden, and Brown, the legislation is cosponsored by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Tina Smith (D-MN).

The legislation is endorsed by over 100 organizations across the country, including the following groups: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention; Boys and Girls Clubs of America; Child Welfare League of America; Girls Inc.; Goodwill Industries; Habitat for Humanity; Independent Sector; Jewish Federations of North America; Lutheran Services in America; March of Dimes; MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership; Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC); National Coalition Against Domestic Violence; National Community Action Foundation; National Council of Nonprofits; Legal Services Corporation; Spina Bifida Association; Union of Orthodox Jewish; United Way; YMCA; YWCA USA; After-School All-Stars Hawai'i; Big Brothers Big Sisters Hawai'i; Ceeds of Peace; Hawai'i Alliance of Nonprofit Organizations; Hawai'i Children's Action Network; Maui Economic Opportunity; Parents and Children Together; Aspire Minnesota; Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota; The North Carolina Center for Nonprofits; Momentum Nonprofit Partners; St. David’s Center for Child & Family Development; Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis; and Minnesota Council of Nonprofits.

“America’s 1.3 million charitable nonprofits embody the best of America. They feed, heal, shelter, educate, inspire, enlighten, and nurture people across the country. But with even more people relying on them now, nonprofits need help in meeting the enormous demand created by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Tim Delaney, President and CEO of the National Council of Nonprofits. “The WORK NOW Act is a crucial piece of legislation that will help nonprofits retain and rehire their employees, expand services to meet the skyrocketing human needs, and put unemployed men and women back to work for the common good. This is a well-designed bill to accelerate the economic recovery.”

“Since day one of the COVID-19 pandemic, community-serving organizations like Boys & Girls Clubs have played a crucial role in recovery and response,” said Jim Clark, president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of America. “We're thankful for the leadership of Senator Klobuchar through her sponsorship of the WORK NOW Act which would enable Clubs to continue providing critical community support while helping us meet the increased demand and cost for these vital services. Nonprofits support communities in their time of need – it’s time to support them in theirs.”

“Senator Klobuchar’s WORK NOW proposal would propel nonprofits forward as they work to support their communities, including through housing, nutrition assistance, mental health and counseling services, child care, and disability assistance,” said Jon Pratt, executive director of Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. “As the far-reaching impact of the pandemic moves into its second year, we continue to see increased demands on nonprofits, as well as epic uncertainty about their future funding.”

Full text of the letter can be found HERE and below:

Dear Majority Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, Minority Leader McConnell, and Minority Leader McCarthy:

We write to express our concern about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the charitable nonprofit community and to respectfully request that you include provisions to provide broad relief for nonprofits in subsequent coronavirus relief legislation.

Almost a year ago, Congress came together on a bipartisan basis and passed the CARES Act in response to the rapidly worsening coronavirus pandemic. It quickly became clear that the depths of this pandemic would be felt across our entire economy, including the nonprofit sector. In fact, a recent report by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies estimates nearly 960,000 nonprofit jobs were lost due to the coronavirus pandemic over the past ten months.

While nonprofits are on the front lines of this crisis, demand for their services has never been higher. Nonprofit caseloads have exploded during the coronavirus pandemic, with reports highlighting long lines at food banks, overloaded calls for housing assistance, and overwhelmed mental health providers. Unfortunately, charitable giving to smaller nonprofits (which account for 92 percent of nonprofit organizations) declined by over 7 percent last year. With decreased charitable giving and extraordinarily high community needs, nonprofits are being squeezed from all sides.

We introduced the WORK NOW Act in May of last year to help nonprofits expand, rather than shrink, the ways in which they are serving their communities. This bill – which was reintroduced in the Senate and the House of Representatives this week – creates a grant program at the Treasury Department to help nonprofit organizations retain employees, scale up operations to meet increased demand, and employ newly unemployed workers. Allocations will be made to states and localities – with all funding channeled directly to eligible nonprofits – and the majority of funds must be used for paying the wages, salaries and benefits of either existing employees or new employees.

Since we initially introduced this bill last year, over 500,000 Americans have lost their lives due to the coronavirus and we are still down nearly 10 million jobs. More than ever, nonprofits and the communities they serve need our support and we encourage you to include provisions  – such as the WORK NOW Act – in subsequent coronavirus relief legislation.

 Thank you for your time and attention to this important matter.

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