About that Stimulus Money

I am beginning to hear all kinds of stories about how the stimulus money is hitting the ground out there. Some of it makes me worry and some makes me glad.

Head Start is a great example. Talk about resilient! After being threatened with extinction during an extended reauthorization process, starved with a multi-year flat rate as costs rose, suffering a gratuitously small cut in 2007, and nearly smothered by a progressively mind-boggling array of federal regulations, Head Start programs — a national treasure in my opinion — have finally had their annual allocations increased and are also receiving a chunk of stimulus funds.

Some of the money will allow programs to expand, some to compensate staff at a higher rate, some to address long festering capital needs. And apparently there are as many applications as there are uses for the money, but in its forty-third year this network is still spirited and flexible and driven — and I am convinced that this is in good part due to its commitment to engaging parents both in governance and program delivery.

Here are proven outcomes, civic engagement, community-based entrepreneurism and effective political advocacy! Head Start remains a poster child for the fact that we do not always have to search for something new to celebrate profound innovation and effectiveness in the nonprofit sector.

I guess this is something of a love letter to the many Head Start parents I have met over the years. Great hanging in there and let us know how this next era evolves! We’d love to hear more stories about where stimulus money is going and its uses and misuses. You can comment below.

For those of you who haven’t received a windfall and are struggling with declining revenues, here’s an article that might add to your thinking.

And don’t forget to visit the NPQ website for our latest feature — Nonprofit Newswire, a daily digest of sector news.