SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — Julie Hollar has been helping at-risk kids and teens in San Marcos for 16 years.
“Mentor them with university students and do volunteer work and practice their life skills,” Hollar explains.
When she reopened the San Marcos Youth Service Bureau in the fall, she realized COVID-19 had hit her kids hard, telling her, “We feel like we’re surrounded by death.”
“Most of our kids… they have experienced COVID. And they’ve experienced many deaths around COVID,” she said.
Hollar says most of her kids know at least three people who have died from the virus. The nonprofit was also hit financially; they had to cancel their annual fundraiser.
“We still have bills, you know, we still have to pay for telephone and staff,” Hollar said.
So, she applied for a grant through the Hays County Cash Assistance Program (ECAP).
The fund is a collaboration between the Hays County, the City of Kyle, PeopleFund and the Greater San Marcos Partnership (GSMP). The program is now expanding to help more people affected by COVID-19, launching its second phase on Monday.
Unlike the first round of grants, businesses that have received funding from the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) or an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) can still apply for ECAP funds.
“We realized that businesses had pretty well run through that funding by mid-summer, if not before, and it was time to release that restriction on the ECAP funds,” said Barbara Thomason, GSMP’s director of business retention & expansion and workforce development.
Organizers have also relaxed other requirements, like shortening the length of time a business has to be in operation to qualify for funding and removing restrictions for nonprofits.
“Previously, we were counting employees and many nonprofits don’t have employees. They they use manpower with volunteers, so we eliminated that,” Thomason said.
Businesses that have already received ECAP funds can apply again if they have not reached the maximum award threshold of $10,000—something Hollar plans to do. She says the money has been a lifeline for them as they try to be a lifeline for their kids.
“Right now, they’re just—they don’t know what’s going on and they’re afraid,” Hollar said.
Organizers say the first phase of funding helped 38 local businesses in Hays County. Application details are on the Hays County ECAP website. Applications will close once all funds—roughly $515,000, have been awarded or until Dec. 31, whichever comes first.