Sonoma County officials began the process Monday accepting applications for American Rescue Plan Act funds to support resiliency programs that address community needs in the wake of of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The county will distribute $34 million, after prioritizing applications that address systemic public health and economic challenges that contribute to the unequal impact of the pandemic on certain populations, a spokesperson for the county said.

The county is using data gathered from the Portrait of Sonoma County: 2021 Update and also the county’s Racial Equity and Social Justice Strategic Plan Pillar to further define areas of focus, county officials said.

In December of 2021, the board of supervisors allocated $9 million to launch a Rapid Economic Assistance Program to address the impacts of the pandemic on low-income residents. The board has finalized the prioritization of funding as follows:

-Direct financial assistance to households for basic needs;

-Childcare and childcare facilities;

-Educational disparities;

-Community health worker and public benefits navigators;

-Housing and shelter;

-Mental health services;

-Assistance to essential workers, including farm workers;

-Small businesses and nonprofits;

-Premium pay; and

-Culturally responsive COVID-19 disaster response and long-term recovery.

Applicants are encouraged to describe how their programs will help eliminate or reduce disparities experienced by adversely impacted populations. Applications will be accepted through April 7, 2022.

For more information, visit http://upstreaminvestments.org/Impact/American-Rescue-Plan-Act-(ARPA)/.