Grant funds to benefit babies, ex-inmates and low-wealth families

Jeremy M. Lazarus | 1/19/2023, 6 p.m.
City Hall is planning to provide $115,000 to help low-income families gain baby supplies under ordinances that City Council is ...

City Hall is planning to provide $115,000 to help low-income families gain baby supplies under ordinances that City Council is scheduled to approve next Monday, Jan. 23.

Of those funds $65,000 is to be contributed to the nonprofit Capital Diaper Bank LLC to expand the bank’s ability to distribute diapers to city families. The remaining $50,000 is earmarked for Little Hands Virginia Inc., to buy cribs, strollers and car seats for Richmond families with babies.

Both groups partner with shelters, hospitals, nonprofits and other agencies that can identify families with a demonstrated need for the supplies and both are being overwhelmed by demand.

The donations appear to be the first the city has ever made to the organizations and grows out of the development of a youth and children’s initiative.

The grants, which will be paid for through the city’s allocation from the American Rescue Plan, are on track for passage after clearing council’s Education and Human Services Committee, which has recommended approval.

Separately, City Hall plans to award Help Me Help You Inc. a $250,000 grant to run a pilot program to provide a guaranteed income to 30 individuals released from jail or prison.

The program, also endorsed by the committee and set for council approval next week, would allow the nonprofit led by founder Michelle Mosby to provide the selected individuals with $250 a month on a pre-paid gift card during a 24-month period as part of their re-integration.

The selected individuals also would be enrolled with the city Office of Community Wealth Building on training and securing employment, according to the ordinance, and receive other counseling services in a bid to help lift them out of poverty.

The city, in partnership with the Robins Foundation, began testing a guaranteed income program in 2020. The program, which provided $500 a month for two years, initially had 18 families and expanded to 55 families under the banner of the Richmond Resilience Initiative.

All made too much to qualify for food stamps and most other benefits.

According to the initiative’s website, the program’s funding ran out in December.

In addition, council is expected to approve next week $1.15 million in grants to the city Health District, Virginia Union University and five other nonprofits to continue a health education initiative that began a year ago in Black, Latino and low-income neighborhoods.