Mayor Gradisar Highlights City Investments, Progress on the One Year Anniversary of the Passage of the American Rescue Plan Act
PUEBLO, CO – Today is the one-year anniversary of the enactment of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), and Mayor of Pueblo Nick Gradisar is highlighting the ways this historic legislation has allowed Pueblo to invest in the community, lift up neighbors and drive economic recovery. A critical component of the ARPA was direct relief funding for American cities and states, and these funds have helped address critical needs as Pueblo continues to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic, while also making investments for the future.
“ARPA funding has made a significant impact already on Pueblo with the allocations made in 2021,” said Gradisar. “It was important to me and to City Council to have our own citizens involved in the review process. Our pillar leads have been able to voice their opinions about how we could spend this money to revitalize Pueblo.”
Some of the needs and priorities that the relief funds from ARPA have helped support in Pueblo include the seven pillars identified of individuals and households, tourism and hospitality, youth, non-profits, small businesses, infrastructure and lastly community resilience. The pillar leads oversaw the process of review and then made recommendation to Mayor Gradisar which then brought proposals before City Council for final approval.
A total of 75 community volunteers serve on the task force pillars for ARPA projects. In 2021, 28 projects were approved for funding of over $7 million by City Council after a total of 207 submissions. City Council is now in the review process of a final round of allocations for additional award of $3 million.
“Our task force groups have worked diligently and we still have more proposals that are being presented to City Council for funding,” said Gradisar. “We’re looking forward to continuing to support Pueblo as we recover from COVID and these ARPA funds are allowing us to do so.”
One of the 28 projects funded in 2021 was the Pueblo City-County Library District recently presented at a City Council work session about the success of the youth reading program called Reading Pays, which was funded with ARPA dollars. The Pueblo City-County Library District received $500,000 from the City of Pueblo with a matching contribution from Pueblo County and the program involved children 0-17. The youth were required to check out 10 books in total and provide feedback about what they read and then were awarded $100 upon completion.
Over 7,000 youth in Pueblo were awarded a $100 prize for their reading activities. In addition to receiving the $100, youth were also taught about banking and saving for the future with incentive to earn more money again. Parents and children alike shared just how much the Reading Pays program motivated children, increased their financial literacy and helped youth fall in love with reading.
Mayor Gradisar spoke regularly about the benefit the Reading Pays program brought to the youth in Pueblo County in bridging the gap to promote learning through reading as schools were transitioned to online learning. This addressed the need for youth to be engaged as they struggled throughout the pandemic with being apart from their peers and finding ways to be involved outside of the structured school day.
For more information about ARPA funding and updates about funding, visit www.pueblo.us. The City of Pueblo is hopeful for a second allocation of ARPA funds with an anticipated allocation in May of this year for another $18 million. All funding must be encumbered by 2024 with completion of projects by 2026.