How the city has supported COVID-19 recovery with federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.

The City of Boulder received $20.15 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to support community recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

This funding presents an opportunity to support both short-term recovery and long-term initiatives that advance the city's equity, sustainability and resilience goals. So far, the City of Boulder has allocated $8.78M of total awarded ARPA funds. In early March 2023, staff will request final approval from City Council to allocate and spend the remaining $11.37M. Under federal guidelines, the city must ensure all ARPA funds are spent by Dec. 31, 2026.

Recently, the city launched a dashboard that shows how the city will spend its ARPA funds. This tool provides a transparent outline of ARPA spending broken down into three areas: Human Services, Economic Recovery and City Operations. Users can search spending by type, find descriptions on each initiative and view intended outcomes.

Below are some of the ways that the city's ARPA funds have supported our community. More details can be found on the ARPA dashboard on the city’s website.

By The Numbers

  • 22 community artists and arts organizations received grant funding to financially recover from COVID-19 impacts. The funds were used to employ Boulder dancers, actors, musicians and important behind-the-scenes positions.

  • 235 small businesses received grant funding to help address negative impacts from the pandemic.

  • 102 Boulder households with overdue water utility bills received financial assistance. As of January 2023, the city provided roughly $183,000 in ARPA funds for water utility assistance.

  • In 2022, 1,013 winter weather shelter bed nights for unhoused community members were supported with ARPA funds.

  • Transitioned 10 community members into permanent housing.


Human Services

Funds to ensure that no community member experiences displacement, hunger or lacks access to essential services due to COVID-19.

  • Supported 90+ families with financial assistance to help cover basic needs such as transportation, medical care, utility payments and rental assistance, which helps to prevent evictions and keep families housed.

  • Served 66 low-income, primarily Latinx, Boulder community members through the Left Behind Workers Fund, which aims to help workers experiencing COVID-19 hardship.

    • Provided financial assistance to indirectly benefit 140 child dependents of individuals who work in industries such as cleaning, janitorial services, construction, restaurant services, farming and food production.

  • Provided funding for culturally relevant foods to increase food security for Latino community members engaging with Boulder’s family resource center.

    • “Our margins are thin, food is going out as quickly as it comes in, and we needed tortillas,” said Kammi Siemens, Director of Programs with the Emergency Family Assistance Association. “These funds will help provide foods that are healthy and familiar to our diverse Boulder families.”

  • Enrolled 82 Boulder households in the Fruit & Veg Boulder food voucher program to increase food security.

Economic Recovery

Funding for grants and other programs to help businesses in hard-hit industries offset financial COVID-19 impacts and speed inclusive economic recovery.

  • Established the Restaurant S.O.S Program to support local restaurants, which created more than 80 delivery driver jobs and delivered nearly 9,000 orders.

    • “The Restaurant S.O.S Program helped us weather the pandemic and continue to employ our staff while our community was encouraged to stay safe at home,” shared one restaurant owner.

  • Used $480,000 in ARPA funding to provide grants to 235 small businesses impacted by the pandemic, which helped them meet payroll, rent and other business expenses.

    • An ARPA small business grant recipient shared, “There is no recovery from the damage suffered by COVID; [however,] this grant certainly helped smooth an edge and helped me pay my rent and staff. Thank you so very much.”

  • Introduced a five-year Outdoor Dining Pilot which provided infrastructure enabling 24 restaurants to increase capacity and revenue by offering safe, accessible and sustainable outdoor dining areas.

City Operations

Funds used to support City of Boulder operations related to COVID-19, including supporting employee health and safety.

  • Supported workforce transformation for city employees and facilities to enable hybrid work and the ability to maintain consistent, high-quality customer service to community members.