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Regulatory burden on Nonprofits is not the main issue with evaluating equity grants

Nonprofits working with DEED on equity programs have expressed dissatisfaction with DEED’s regulatory burden. Organizations like EMERGE have faced issues with government overreach, punitive oversight, and inconsistent expectations of what their grants are supposed to achieve.

In 2017 legislature approved funding for Equity programs, aimed to provide workforce programs for people of color, most of which were awarded directly by the legislature. The rest was distributed by DEED through a series of competitive grants. Grantees have faced the majority of regulatory burden with accountability measures.

Even though accountability measures present a hurdle, especially to small nonprofits, big organizations face no issues issue with reporting data. The bigger issue about Equity grants should then be the fact that DEED cannot evaluate the overall success of the program despite the presence of data. DEED claims that overall the program has its successes and failures and that each organization serves different types of people and has different objectives.

But organizations report data on a number of different things–number of participants served, how many get jobs, how many stayed employed, and the median increase in wages after the program. DEED should be able to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the program based on the data available.  DEED, however,

  • Has placed a heavy focus on program outreach i.e. number of participants served instead of the actual impact of the program on the job market in its annual report.
  • Has attributed general unemployment decline trends to Equity grants instead of evaluating program’s effect on actually reducing  economic disparities