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ARPA money approved for nonprofits; Crutcher Foundation gets full request

Tulsa city councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper, left, discusses federal funding for the Terence Crutcher Foundation as TCF Executive Director Tiffany Crutcher, center, and policy fellow Jayla Simone Meeks
Max Bryan
Tulsa City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper, left, discusses federal funding for the Terence Crutcher Foundation as TCF Executive Director Tiffany Crutcher, center, and policy fellow Jayla Simone Meeks observe on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023, at Tulsa City Hall.

Following months of deliberation, the Tulsa City Council on Wednesday approved nearly $7 million in federal relief money for nonprofits throughout the city.

The more than $6.9 million in American Rescue Plan Act money will be given to 45 nonprofits that applied for the money. The city now has until August of next year to approve contracts that will send the money to the nonprofits.

A working group comprised of councilors Phil Lakin, Vanessa Hall-Harper, Jeannie Cue and Crista Patrick and members of the mayor’s office has worked for months to determine which nonprofits will receive the money. The group determined which nonprofits would receive the money — and how much of it — after they were given permission to apply for the money in May.

Councilors were originally scheduled to vote on the ARPA disbursements on Sept. 27, but withheld because two councilors outside the working group were absent for medical reasons. Councilors outside the working group also expressed a desire to look over the selected nonprofits more thoroughly before voting on the items.

"I know the delay was frustrating for some folks, but I think five non-working-group councilors at the table for $7 million is really prudent, so I appreciate that," said councilor Lori Decter Wright, who was absent from the Sept. 27 meeting.

Following discussion, council approved the allocations, with additional requested money for four nonprofits:

  • Terence Crutcher Foundation: $481,201, up from $462,201
  • T-Town TNR: $33,000, up from $25,000 originally allocated
  • The Common Good: $149,000, up from $100,000 originally allocated
  • Junior Achievement of OK: $50,000, up from $45,000 originally allocated

Council will now vote on the allocations as budget amendments at their Wednesday evening meetings.
TCF nearly removed, but approved for original request

The Terence Crutcher Foundation’s request was approved after two pushes from councilors to remove the organization from the process.

The Crutcher Foundation was founded in memory of the late Terence Crutcher, a Black man who was killed by Tulsa police while unarmed. The group aims to address racial inequities, has petitioned for reform within TPD and advocates for reparations for the living survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

TCF requested the money councilors approved Wednesday for an HVAC system in the North Pointe Business Center at East Pine Street and MLK Jr. Boulevard. The organization purchased the building in late 2022 for $1.7 million to bring equity to north Tulsa through economic revitalization.

The $19,000 that brings TCF’s allocation up to its original request is for a five-year warranty for the HVAC system.

“We have buildings in most of our districts that have fallen into disrepair, and so this was a project that makes sure that this project doesn’t go empty and dilapidated,” said Hall-Harper, whose district holds the shopping center.

When councilors were finalizing the list of organizations that could apply for the money in May, councilor Grant Miller requested to remove TCF from the list without stating a reason. Miller’s request received a 4-4 vote, which kept it on the list.

At the Sept. 27 meeting, councilor and mayoral candidate Jayme Fowler asked to remove the organization from the list of ARPA recipients. He later said he had “nothing to add” about his request until further considering the list.

Fowler’s tone was different at the Wednesday meeting, calling the requested money for the warranty “a prudent thing.”

“If we were going to buy half-a-million-dollar car and not insure it, I think it would be pretty short-sighted,” he said.

Several members of the Crutcher Foundation and Regina Goodwin, north Tulsa’s state representative, were present for the vote.

TCF executive director Tiffany Crutcher said she was relieved by the outcome.

“We found ourselves on the frontlines of unnecessary battles when we know that Tulsa is a generous city, and that we come together in times of need,” Crutcher said. “And we know that historically, north Tulsa has been neglected and divested in, and we truly believe that the North Pointe business center is a huge opportunity to not just have communal impact, but economic impact."

Max Bryan is a news anchor and reporter for KWGS. A Tulsa native, Bryan worked at newspapers throughout Arkansas and in Norman before coming home to "the most underrated city in America." Several of Bryan's news stories have either led to or been cited in changes both in the public and private sectors.