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Community resource

Nonprofit organizations in Connecticut provide vital services, and merit continued state backing. People with disabilities or who are in difficult circumstances often turn to charitable associations for life-altering assistance. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, therefore, was right to authorize a new grant program that will make $20 million available for these groups.

Government-provided money will help finance beneficial projects capable of reducing costs, like technology upgrades, energy conservation and structural renovations. Investment in improvements geared toward modernization, efficiency and green-tech can help save money while enhancing services.

Since economic downturn in 2007, many nonprofits have struggled to afford such projects. For years, state contracts for these organizations have included little or no cost-of-living adjustments. Sustaining reasonable wages for staff, plus the price of providing services for clients, can mean inadequate funding leftover for capital investment.

Consequently, services are negatively affected. Nonprofits may have to choose between spending on certain programs or capital projects. An Aug. 21 AP story outlines operational issues faced by Gilead Community Services, a Middletown-based social and mental health services center. Unable to afford expansion of facilities, Gilead houses some clients with mental issues two to a bedroom. Other potential uses for grant dollars identified by the nonprofit were replacing an old van, roofs and boilers. Deteriorated buildings, vehicles and equipment are less effective, can eat employees’ time, and can be more expensive to operate than modern counterparts.

If Connecticut did not decisively back nonprofits, the pattern of lax funding could have continued and done real damage to valuable organizations. Such groups “play a substantial role in maintaining our safety net,” Malloy averred. He is correct. During a period of prolonged economic uncertainty, people with health or mental problems, and those facing challenging situations, increasingly rely upon nonprofits for every-day assistance.

It is with this population in mind that Malloy has signaled a new direction. Although more money obviously would have done greater good, the governor is to be commended for the first major state investment of the type in years – an acknowledgement that nonprofits are a community resource well worth sufficient, long-term support.



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