Orem announced that applications for CARE Tax grants are now open, and requests are due by 5 p.m. Feb. 28.
In November 2005, Orem residents voted in favor of the tax grant, an acronym for Cultural Arts and Recreation Enrichment, to support arts and recreation programs in the community. It went into effect April 2006, with the first grants awarded in 2007.
Now in its 13th year, the CARE Tax offers three types of grants:
Major grants: $10,000 or more to a nonprofit organization (must be a licensed 501c3)
Mid-major grants: $5,000–$9,999 to a nonprofit organization (must be a licensed 501c3)
Mini grants: $4,999 or less to a nonprofit organization
These yearly grants are split 50-50 between the city’s recreation needs and the nonprofit arts. Nonprofit arts include theater and historical arts, including the city’s Summerfest celebration and the annual Colonial Heritage Festival.
One of the annual recipients of a major grant is the Hale Center Theater Orem. Jeff Fisher, director of development at the theater, said that while the program has helped with several things, there is one in particular that deserves recognition.
“It has given us the courage to grow education programs,” Fisher said. “If it wasn’t for CARE Tax we wouldn’t have this ability.”
Depending on the year, Hale Center Theater receives around $350,000.
April Berlin, operations manager/marketing and development at the SCERA Center for the Arts, has seen the long-term benefits of the CARE Tax and how it has allowed the community theater to expand its production, arts and dance education programs.
“The CARE program helps SCERA and the arts in the city to thrive, not just survive,” Berlin said.
SCERA, depending on the year, has received between $500,000 and $600,000 to continue its programs and to help with the Orem Historic Museum.
The popular women’s choir the Chauntenettes is a regular recipient of a mid-range grant that has helped them update music from their 73 years of singing, and to help subsidize costuming and other programs.
“Before the CARE Tax, we were having to sell hot dogs at LaVell Edwards Stadium,” said Jackie Weyland, assistant director.
The grant money is helping to fund the choir and their upcoming Sacred Music Fireside, at 7 p.m. on March 15 in the Alpine Tabernacle in American Fork.
“We couldn’t do what we do without it,” Weyland added.
Grants for the CARE Tax come from sales and use tax in the city — $.01 for every $10 spent. In November 2013, voters renewed the CARE Tax for an additional 10 years, which will fund it through March 2024.
“This program has helped fund the new fitness center, library hall, all-together playground, the splash pad, the dog park, the outdoor stage at City Center Park, as well as helped hundreds of thousands of people enjoy the arts here in Orem,” said Steven Downs, city spokesman and CARE administrator.
As awareness of the CARE grants has grown, nonprofit arts groups’ interest in applying for assistance has increased.
“We had 20 nonprofits receive CARE funding last year. This is an increase of about 20% in the last five years,” Downs said.
CARE Tax applications can be found online at https://orem.org/care. With the exception of major grants, funds are typically allocated by way of reimbursement.