Kamiah officials have agreed to support a multi-million dollar grant application as long as it does not entangle the city with any unfavorable requirements.
During a special council meeting on Aug. 29, Kelly Lineberry, Sharlene Johnson and Barb Whitcomb explained their proposal for a Promise Neighborhoods Program grant that would fund the Upriver Youth Leadership Council. The UYLC focuses on combating drug abuse at Kamiah and bettering educational offerings.
The Promise Neighborhood grant would fund the UYLC effort in a massive way and allow for future expansion into Kooskia and Stites.
Councilor Mike Bovey and Mayor Dale Schneider expressed concerns about some of the sponsoring entities behind the grant program.
Johnson replied that there are no strings and that it is a federal grant with an in-kind match. The group asked for the support and partnership of the city in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding. An MOU would also need to be signed with the Kamiah School District and the schools in Kooskia.
The council decided it needed more time to consider the grant before formally supporting the application. It was decided that everyone meet two days later in a special council meeting.
At the follow up meeting, Lineberry noted that the UYLC would be requesting an initial amount of $2.5 million the first year. The funds would cover what is known as “cradle to career” efforts within the 83536 zip code.
The council specifically felt the emphasis should be cradle to workforce instead of “cradle to college” since many students go to technical or vocational schools instead of college.
After much discussion the council agreed to support the grant application as long as there are no strings attached.
In an interview with Schneider, he said the grant application is stronger with the city’s support. He supports efforts to improve local schools or better the community, but not at the cost of accepting moral values that are contrary to his conscience.
“If someone wants to give us money with no strings attached to make our community better, I’m in favor. If they want us to sell our souls, I’m not going to do it,” said Schneider.
Some of the Promise Neighborhood Institute supporters include the Open Society Foundations funded by George Soros, the Ford Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, JP Morgan Chase, and the Appleton Foundation.
“It’s my understanding they are helping fund the Dept. of Education to do this with the communities,” said Schneider. He said he has not seen any strings attached but has seen red flags because of some research by Councilor Bovey.
Johnson confirmed that the Promise Neighborhood Grant is through the Department of Education as established under the legislative authority of the Fund for the Improvement of Education Program.
It provides funding to nonprofit organizations, which may include faith-based nonprofit organizations; institutions of higher education; and Indian tribes.
“If the grant is awarded that is when we have to officially sign on to it. If there are strings attached to the city we will decline,” said Schneider. “We made that clear.”
The city would be under no obligation to put out any money as match for the grant, but there could be some in-kind requirements.
Bovey said he opposes the liberal agenda involved in some of the agencies. In an interview, he said after doing some research he found that some of the organizations backing the Promise Neighborhoods Program support sanctuary cities and Black Lives Matter.
“They assured us there were no strings attached to it. We do have a right to refuse or opt out if there are strings attached,” he said.
“If the grant goes as they are saying it would be a boon to Kamiah, of course. It would be a good thing,” added Bovey. “My concerns were the funding agencies have a lot of liberal agendas attached to them.”
Bovey believes that PolicyLink is the funding agent and the Dept. of Education disperses the grant.
He also felt the issue was too rushed. The grant deadline was Sept. 5. “We didn’t have a lot of time to research all of this.” He said the city has been burned on a few hurry up issues in the past. He noted that he is not opposed to education. “Any money we can get for the kids for education is awesome,” he added.
Bovey felt the council would keep very close tabs on the grant, should it be awarded to UYLC.
According to the Federal Register, an estimated $30 million is awarded annually. The maximum award granted is $6 million a year.
“Our year one budget is around $1.8 million,” said Johnson. “Quite honestly most of that funding will go into schools, programming, college readiness and career preparedness, and behavioral health services (counseling, recovery and treatment services, parenting education, and pro-social and family engagement activities). There is safe routes to school (sidewalks and safety issues identified by law enforcement) items that are included in the budget.”
Once the final budget is completed she said it will be made public. “We are completely transparent.”
Entities involved in planning and/or partnerships include the city of Kamiah, Kamiah School District, Mountain View School District, Clearwater Economic Development Association, Public Health Department, law enforcement, parents, community members, and several civic organizations.
Lineberry said UYLC is not seeking $6 million because of the small area represented here. He said funding requests would likely increase each year as projects and partnerships expand. “The funds would be allocated differently each year depending on the projects we are tackling that year.”
Lineberry submitted the following wish list of items the Promise Neighborhoods grant could address:
School counselors, community mental health services, community substance abuse and treatment and recovery services, drug prevention classes, parenting classes, teen pregnancy and STD prevention, free medical and dental clinic services, Kamiah track, school resource officers, increased law enforcement, vocational education in our schools, expanded dual credit programs for our schools and colleges, CV sports complex including track, and bleachers, expanded economic development, school building improvements and maintenance, local transportation solutions, drivers ed in Kamiah, Boys and Girls Club, wellness center, community center, soccer field and ball field expansions and improvements, skate/bike park, bring in production industry, job training, safe route to schools and sidewalk repairs, bike path between Kamiah and Kooskia, nature trails, low-income apartment and housing, sustainability planning, improve the highway corridor from Main Street to the park, provide a solution for crosswalk or overpass for Main Street to Cloninger’s, enhanced Head Start and preschool programs, possibly an alternative high school, bring back art, music to the schools, partner with Clearwater Valley schools, make internet and devices available to many more of our students and their families.
“The idea is to support our students from the cradle to the workforce in as many ways as possible to help them succeed,” stated Lineberry.
He noted that everything that is done would be documented to demonstrate the effects of efforts. The money would be spent based on the items written into and approved within the grant.
Regarding the city’s concerns about the grant, Lineberry said he and the UYLC board share the same concerns. “We would not sell our values or integrity out for money. We have looked over the requirements very carefully and see nothing conflicting with our regional values,” said Lineberry.
“There are many other groups who have been funded in urban areas that have different values and priorities than we do but we apply for the grant stating our needs and our plans and we don’t see any conflict there. If at some time we recognize requirements that pop up and surprise us in an unpleasant way—we see almost zero chance of that happening—we would refuse the funding and not participate in the grant.”
He emphasized that there is no connection to Black Lives Matter or becoming a sanctuary city. “Some groups that have been funded in the past have those connections themselves and are in urban areas, but we have looked pretty closely and don’t see those things connected to the grant itself,” added Lineberry.
“We are just a group of community members, some who lead organizations in our community and some who are parents and interested parties, who are working towards helping our students and our community as a whole. We think this is a great opportunity to help,” concluded Lineberry.
“We are just a group of people trying to do positive things for the community we love,” added Johnson.
In other business
Brian Brokop applied for a new liquor license under the name of Clearwater Brewing Company, located at 212 First Street in Kamiah. Motion was made by Mike Bovey and seconded by Paul Schlader to approve the new license.