How the county chose CARES Act grant recipients

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles looking at the CARES Act Grant and how Kaua‘i groups are using these funds.

LIHU‘E — Using specialized Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds, the county recently awarded 44 proposals for projects ranging from direct assistance to jobs to getting food out to the community.

During a Request for Proposals (RFP) process that opened in mid-June, 102 businesses and nonprofits requested $26,226,587.96 across six different sectors.

The county set $12,250,000 to give, but only allocated $9,195,412 to proposals.

The money came from the state’s cut of $862,823,979 in CARES Act funding. The state overall awarded $28,715,551 to the county, which opted to spread the money across 21 different areas, and offer the community six areas to apply for funds.

Businesses and nonprofits had about 10 days to submit proposals, which were reviewed by individual selection committees made of county employees and community volunteers with grant experience and/or subject expertise. While some nonprofits were funded in full, others had to revise their proposals for budgetary constraints or to more closely conform to CARES Act eligibility.

The feasibility of each project played into which were chosen since recipients must utilize these funds before the end of the year.

“We encouraged (selection committees) to only allocate what they thought appropriate; we did not want them to feel pressured to spend every dollar just because it was available,” Nicholas Courson, a project manager at Kaua‘i Emergency Management Agency, and Office of Economic Development Director Nalani Brun explained in a statement. “So it was a two part decision; two of the selection committees didn’t spend the funds. Then the administration asked us to see whether there were alternative ways to effectuate the original purposes.”

The Rise to Work Grants received 12 proposals asking for $5,388,706.14. Nine proposals were funded at $1,743,000, of the $4 million available. The intent of the Rise to Work program, the county said, was to “give jobs to workers who were furloughed as a result of the disruption to the visitor industry.” The county is currently in talks with third party providers to better address this grant.

“Assuming the negotiations are successful, the $2.3 million will be used to fund that, and the County would announce it at that time,” Courson and Brun said.

The county funded five of six Meal Delivery Program proposals in the way of $829,816. This part of the package had $1 million to allocate. These funds would go toward meal delivery projects, focusing on at-risk groups.

The unallocated funds have been set aside for a county-operated food program, “should the need be there,” the county said.

The county awarded five Mental Health and Domestic Violence Prevention Grants of the eight proposals received. This fund had $1 million allocated.

The selection committee initially fully awarded the funds but was “unable to come to terms with Child and Family Services because they could not accept a 5% admin fee,” the county said.

Those funds were then allocated to the YWCA, which was given a partial award.

For Non-Profit Economic Support Loss Grants, like child care support or community services, 10 projects of 39 were selected, fully allocating out $1.25 million.

And Agricultural Assistance Grants, which received 21 proposals, went to seven projects, allocating $2,930,044 of $2 million allocated. Funds leftover from the “Transforming Tourism/Economic Diversification Recovery Support Program Grants” which allocated $1,800,439 of $3 million to seven of 16 proposals, went to the agriculture grants.

At a Kaua‘i County Council meeting last week, Courson said that some of the leftover funds went toward Summer Fun programs, some money from the food support directed grants will go to the Department of Parks and Recreation for similar goals. The Office of Economic Development will receive leftover Rise to Work funds.

“So in a nutshell, the funds will be used for as similar purpose to their original purpose as we could accomplish,” the county said.

Grant recipients must submit monthly expenditures, which plays into the county’s monthly reports that are required by the state for these federal funds.

Recipients have spent about $882,082, the majority toward equipment to get their projects kick-started, as of Aug. 5.

Equipment has accounted for about $367,755 of what recipients have spent, and about $225,274 on operations. Salaries and benefits for jobs only make up about 1.68% of what’s been spent at $14,820.

For a full list of awardees visit

Selection committees:

• Meal Delivery Program to High-Risk Groups: William Trujillo, Darcie Agaran, Lauren Guest, Cynthia Chang.

• Non-Profit Economic Support Grants: Ellen Ching, Kerrilyn Barros, Jamie Olivas, Glenda Nogami-Streufert.

• Mental Health and Domestic Violence Prevention Grants: Emily Medeiros, Kristen Jung, El Doi, Rei Cooper, Mady Hiraga-Nuccio.

• Agricultural Assistance Grants: Marty Amaro, Dr. James Keach, Dr. Roshan Manandhar, Chelsie Sakai.

• Transforming Tourism/Economic Diversification Recovery Support: Felicia Cowden, Karen Ono, Diana Singh, Melissia Sugai, Denise Wardlow.

• Rise to Work: Luke Evslin, Keith Perry, Dan Fort, Del Sherman, Paula Morikami, Gini Kapali.


All CARES Act fund stories can be found online at: