The EITC Funders Network is proud to announce the launch of the Community Outreach & Opportunity Fund, an effort to help community foundations work with local community partners in hyper-local, strategic outreach and enrollment activities to ensure all eligible families sign up for the expanded federal Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit.
Community Outreach & Opportunity Fund Overview
During a virtual convening on August 12, the White House issued a call to action for community foundations to accelerate efforts to identify and fund “last-mile” outreach efforts that can assist non-filer families in enrolling to receive the CTC. EITC Funders Network, in partnership with CFON and CFLeads, rapidly responded to this call to action to quickly stand up the Community Outreach and Opportunity Fund (CO-OP Fund). The purpose of the CO-OP Fund is to engage community foundations between September 2021 and April 2022 to help ensure that as many families as possible receive the full Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) benefits they are eligible for, as quickly and as easily as possible.
The CO-OP Fund is generously supported by a number of charitable foundations including Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, the Rockefeller Foundation, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The CO-OP Fund is staffed by the EITC Funders Network and is guided in partnership with Community Foundation Opportunity Network (CFON) and CFLeads.
The expansions of the federal CTC and EITC present a critical opportunity to dramatically improve financial stability for families with low income. However, these expansions can only achieve their goals if families know about the credits, are able to enroll, and can get their taxes done in free and non-predatory settings.
A key implementation challenge is that families who earn the least do not typically file income tax returns because they are not required to (sometimes called, non-filers). Therefore, the IRS has no record of them, and they will not get the CTC payments automatically via direct deposit like many middle- and higher-income families. A big push to reach an estimated 5 million non-filers and also assist them with three interrelated touchpoints: outreach and navigating enrollment, sharing stories of success and shaping the local narrative on families in need, and helping families to file or reconcile tax returns in early 2022.
Each successful community foundation applicant will receive $50,000 intended to be matched by local cash (for example, grants made to nonprofits) or in-kind support (for example, dedicating community foundation staff time to support the effort) to create a project of at least $100,000. CO-OP awards may come out in rounds (starting as early as the week of October 4) depending on the timing of available funding. Funds are in place for the first 14 awards, while a proactive fundraising strategy for additional awards in similar amounts is in place. Note that it is expected that applicants will allocate at least 80% of CO-OP funds to support local partners through re-granting.
The CO-OP Fund is supporting 24 community foundation awardees across the United States:
- ACT for Alexandria
- Albuquerque Community Foundation
- Central New York Community Foundation
- Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta
- Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo
- Community Foundation for Muskegon County
- Community Foundation for Northeast Florida
- Community Foundation Santa Cruz County
- Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation
- Fairfield County’s Community Foundation
- Legacy Foundation
- Lincoln Community Foundation
- New Hampshire Charitable Foundation
- Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation
- Oregon Community Foundation
- Placer Community Foundation
- Southwest Initiative Foundation
- St. Paul & Minnesota Foundation
- The San Diego Foundation
- Whatcom Community Foundation
- Richmond Community Foundation
- The Chicago Community Trust
- The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia
- The Miami Foundation
Check back soon to learn about the strategies these community foundations and their local partners will employ to raise awareness of the CTC and EITC, tell stories of impact, and help families get their taxes prepared in high-quality, non-predatory settings.