Paycheck Protection Program Has Been a Financial Lifeline for Erie Achievement Center.
For more than 100 years, the non-profit organization has served children, adolescents and families in the Erie region struggling with emotional, social, physical or behavioral challenges.
The agency has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, in large part because employees at the Achievement Center have suddenly been unable to provide in-person services to clients.
“We have a staff of around 250 people. When the pandemic hit, especially when quarantine became part of all our orders, seeing customers was definitely going to be in danger, ”said Charlotte Rerko, CEO of the Achievement Center.
“If we don’t see clients, we don’t get paid because about 85% of our income comes from our contracts with other state, federal and county sources, as well as a small amount of private insurance.” , said Rerko.
The agency, which serves more than 3,100 clients each year, applied for and received a $ 2.1 million PPP loan from the federal government, with assistance from PNC Bank.
Rerko said all of this money was being used to pay employee salaries.
The loan was one of more than $ 40 million PPP loans made to more than 200 nonprofits in Erie County, according to data compiled by the Nonprofit Partnership, a project of the Erie Community Foundation that helps local non-profit organizations.
Loans can also be forgiven at many organizations under certain conditions, turning the loan into a subsidy that businesses won’t have to repay.
Rerko said the Achievement Center, which has an annual budget of around $ 11 million, has not had to fire or lay off employees and has shifted much of its client work to a system of Helpline.
“We got through to this in almost no time,” she said. “It posed some challenges, but some of our families have used it to engage with us more than ever.”
The Achievement Center offers a variety of services, from working with children with learning and behavioral disabilities to physiotherapy and speech therapy. The agency serves children and families in Erie, Crawford, Forest, Venango and Warren counties.
Rerko said that as restrictions on COVID-19 have started to ease, the agency has started to resume some in-person services.
“At this point, we’re about 5% to 10% working with clients face-to-face, and none of our employees are seeing clients without wearing protective gear,” Rerko said.
“Our office has never closed,” Rerko said. “We continued to serve customers, PPP helped us do that.”
Contact Kevin Flowers at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @ETNflowers.