In 2021 and 2022, California’s counties and cities received a total of $16 billion flexible aid through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) Program to continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. These funds arrived at a crucial time when governments were pushed to address systemic racism as a public health crisis, following 2020’s national uprisings to support Black lives and address police violence. With these ARPA funds, local governments have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to strengthen their public health and social services infrastructure, advance racial equity, and mend trust and relationships especially with communities of color.
In 2022, CPEHN researched and analyzed publicly available information at 12 of California’s largest counties to see how counties were spending their ARPA funds in the first year of the program. Each of these large counties received over $100 million under this federal program. In order to fairly evaluate and compare across counties, we developed a 51-question equity metric (see our methods here) and examined each county’s efforts in use of funds, promoting racial equity, engaging their constituents, and ensuring transparency, accessibility and accountability.
Each county received a “scorecard” with letter grades on their performance how they’ve been equitably, efficiently and effectively using the ARPA relief funds to invest in public health and racial equity.
For county government officials, we hope our analyses spark curiosity, learning and growth. Our publications aim at helping local governments understand their successes and gaps, and learn ways to leverage this program to improve their decision making processes and better serve the communities most in need.
For our community partners, we hope our analyses can help break down the complicated, inaccessible county budget processes such as those for the ARPA funds. We want to support your local efforts in advocating for equitable use of these COVID-19 relief dollars and holding our elected officials accountable.
CPEHN ARPA Scorecards
- Contra Costa County Scorecard [English]
- Fresno County Scorecard [English][Español]
- Kern County Scorecard [English][Español]
- Los Angeles County Scorecard [English][Español]
- Orange County Scorecard [English] [Español]
- Sacramento County Scorecard [English] [Español]
- San Bernardino County Scorecard [English] [Español]
- San Diego County Scorecard [English][Español]
- San Francisco City and County Scorecard [English] [Español]
- San Joaquin County Scorecard [English][Español]
- Stanislaus County Scorecard [English] [Español]
- Ventura County Scorecard [English][Español]
CPEHN’s ARPA Scorecards: Background, Methods and Glossary
On June 29, 2022, CPEHN hosted a Zoom webinar to share our key findings from the scorecard project. The webinar was joined by organizers from the Imperial Valley Equity & Justice Coalition who shared their successful campaign advocating for more equitable distribution of the ARPA funds in Calexico City, California. We want to thank our guest speaker for this webinar, Alexis Castro, MPA and community organizer from the Imperial Valley Equity & Justice Coalition. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for questions or comments.
- Winning COVID-19 Relief Funds for Underserved Communities in Calexico City, California: A Success Story of Community Partnerships and Local Organizing during the Pandemic. (February 2023)
- Equity in Local Budgets Reading List: A reading list created for advocates, organizers and anyone who wants to understand and get involved in their city or county budget processes in California. The information and resources in this list provide an overview on how local budget works, the impact of recent federal COVID-19 relief dollars locally, and actionable steps for the reader to make demands for more racially equitable, transparent and accountable use of local resources. (September 2022)
Score Cards in the News:
- “How did Kern County spend COVID-19 relief funds?” 23ABC, May 17, 2022
- “Fresno County gets C grade on COVID spending, advocates say. Gets F for racial equity” The Fresno Bee, May 12, 2022
- “Exclusive: Sacramento County COVID spending gets B grade on health advocate report card.” The Sacramento Bee. May 03, 2022
- “Large park expansion, housing on the table for last and biggest round of pandemic aid.” Ventura County Star. August 27, 2022
- Why did Fresno County give the Clovis Rodeo pandemic relief funds? Fresnoland, April 26, 2023
The publications listed above were researched and written by: Weiyu Zhang, Andrea Mackey, Jeffrey Kho, Cary Sanders and Navneet Virk at CPEHN. Additional CPEHN contributors include Kiran Savage-Sangwan, Seleny Diaz, Katherine Nasol, Monika Lee and Cassandra Aguilar.
The Spanish versions of the scorecards are translated by Javier Arreola.
Additionally, we want to thank Professor Iyanrick John and the students at the California State University, East Bay who contributed to the research and analyses of these scorecards, including Ferdos Abdu, Faten Abdulqawi, Lindsay Enriquez, Deepali Giri, Tenzin Kunsel, Jackelyn Marroquin, Manvi Pal, Hayley Parker-Nelson, Vanessa Ramirez-Casiano, Madison Suko, Adele Swing, Galilea Villalpando Becerra and Hilay Wardak.
We want to thank the community non-profit organizations listed below for reviewing our scorecards and sharing their work and lived experiences in the counties we analyzed:
- Advancement Project California
- California Rural Legal Aid Foundation
- Central California Environmental Justice Network
- Central Valley Urban Institute
- Contra Costa Budget Justice Coalition
- Decarcerate Sacramento
- Empowering Marginalized Asian Communities
- Multi-Ethnic Collaborative of Community Agencies
- Pomona Economic Opportunity Center
- Public Health Advocates
- Sacramento Homeless Union
- Vision Y Compromiso
Finally, we want to thank the many county administrative staff who responded to our requests and shared additional information for our research.
The scorecards and publications are designed by Firefighter Print and Design.