The many community centers around New Hampshire, from small volunteer operations to those run by cities and towns, could have a chance at up to $1 million for expansion, improvements and ventilation investments.

The Governor's Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery is scheduled to ask lawmakers Friday to put $20 million in federal pandemic aid into a new Community Center Investment Program. In his request to the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee, Chase Hagaman, deputy director of GOFERR, said it’s an approved use of American Rescue Plan funds that are intended to help organizations recover from the pandemic’s public health emergency or its negative economic impact.

“Community Centers are incredibly important for New Hampshire’s health and vibrancy, and they provide opportunities for residents to be active and to interact with others, as well as receive essential services,” Hagaman wrote. “Moreover, Community Centers are inclusive and foster a culture of health and wellbeing in the communities they serve.”

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To be eligible, a community center must offer community-led recreation, social welfare services, or places for the public to gather, or improve the community in ways Hagaman did not define.

Centers could receive up to $1 million but would be responsible for providing matching funds. The amount of a center’s obligation was not included in Hagaman’s request to the committee.

GOFERR will look to the Community Development Finance Authority to administer the grant funding if it is approved by the fiscal committee and also the Executive Council, according to his request.

This story was produced by the editorially independent New Hampshire Bulletin, which is part of States Newsroom. Contact Editor Dana Wormald for questions: info@newhampshirebulletin.com.

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