RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond’s nonprofit and private preschools and childcare providers will have the chance to apply for loans aimed towards expanding their services. Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announced that the city will be investing $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding towards supporting children and families.

The mayor made his announcement during a press briefing on Tuesday. He said city council approved a plan that allocated American Rescue Plan Act funding for childcare and family supports back in October. Stoney explained on Tuesday how that money would be used and how people could access it.

According to the mayor, the money is for the expansion of access to high-quality childcare and preschools throughout the city. He said that many childcare providers have struggled to return to pre-pandemic service levels and many families have had difficulties finding the right care for their children.

In hopes of combating these issues the $1 million will be divided in half between a city managed grant program and a grant program that will be run by Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond.

The city will be providing grants to nonprofit and charity-run childcare and preschool programs that serve low-income families through subsidies or scholarships. Stoney said the programs must use the grant funding to increase the number of children they serve.

“This is about addition, not subtraction,” Stoney said.

The City of Richmond can only administer grants to nonprofit organizations but the mayor acknowledged that many families rely on private or day home childcare providers. In order to help expand these services, $500,000 will be given to Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond who will facilitate a grant program for private providers.

Applications for the city grant open Wednesday and close on March 18. They will be made available on the city website.