Non-profit groups flagged for disqualification

A Guilford County staff committee has disqualified a number of non-profits for funding in the upcoming fiscal year, including some familiar organizations that have just about always in recent years been able to count on money from Guilford County – such as the NC Shakespeare Festival, the United Arts Council of Greensboro, the High Point Area Arts Council and the African American Atelier – all of which have been labeled as "disqualified" for county funding this year.

The committee was assigned earlier this year with the task of examining county funding practices regarding non-profit organizations and it has released a report on whether or not – based on Guilford County's priorities and based on a non-profit funding policy adopted by the Board of Commissioners – those organizations that have requested county money should get funded in the upcoming 2010-2011 county budget.The groups listed above are just four of the non-profits the committee labeled as disqualified.

In many recent budgets, Guilford County has given out money to non-profit organizations like eager homeowners handing out candy on Halloween to everyone who came to the door. However, this year it could be a different story.Guilford County Coordinated Services Manager Beverly Williams has been in charge of overseeing the non-profit organizations' application process. She headed up the committee, which included representatives of various county departments that work closely with area non-profits. Some of the departments represented on the committee were the Guilford County Department of Social Services, the Department of Public Health and the Guilford Center, which oversees mental health and substance abuse issues.

The committee was charged by Guilford County Manager Brenda Jones Fox with looking into whether or not Guilford County's contributions to those organizations are in line with priorities the county has set, and also whether – based on a funding policy adopted by the Board of Commissioners several years ago – those organizations qualify to receive county funds.Williams said the process the committee followed was relatively mechanical.

"We used the guidelines we were given," Williams said.According to the report, the Shakespeare Festival, the African American Atelier and the two area arts councils were disqualified because the commissioners' policy, adopted in 2007, calls for "a maximum of three years of continuous funding." Those four groups have all gotten funding for more than three consecutive years. In the current budget, all of those organizations get donations from Guilford County: The Shakespeare Festival got $30,000 this year; the atelier received $50,000 and the Greensboro and High Point arts councils got $66,667 and $50,000 respectively.For the 2010-2011 budget, the Shakespeare Festival has requested $60,000 in county money; the High Point Arts Council requested $50,000, the Greensboro Arts Council asked for $75,000 and the African American Atelier requested $50,000.

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