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Arlington Tomorrow Foundation sets up city disaster response fund as proactive measure

Ott Cribbs Public Safety Center at 620 W. Division St. in Arlington displays the Arlington fire and police department logos on a mirrored cylindrical window. The sky is cleared, and trees hang in front of the building.
Kailey Broussard
The city's Emergency Operations Center, city manager and Arlington Tomorrow Foundation executive director will determine when to activate the city's disaster response fund.

The Arlington Tomorrow Foundation will create a new method of funding nonprofits in the event of a man-made or natural disaster.

The foundation board – composed of Arlington City Council members – voted 8-0 to set up the Arlington Disaster Response Fund. Andrew Piel was absent for the vote. The response fund will be activated at the discretion of the city manager, Office of Emergency Management and the foundation executive director.

When activated, the city’s website will include a page to donate to the fund, which will be managed by the North Texas Community Foundation (NTCF). Carolyn Mentesana, the foundation’s executive director, described the fund’s creation as a proactive philanthropic measure for longer-term response and recovery.

“It’s not here for tarps and water bottles,” Mentesana said. “It’s for when the fire trucks and the media and FEMA have all packed up and they’ve left and the community’s left to respond.”

Funded response efforts could include counseling and mental health services or repairing infrastructure., Mentesana said. Ultimately, the community’s needs would dictate how funding is used.

“We don’t know if it’s cutting down trees, we don’t know if it’s grief counseling, we don’t know what that looks like,” she said. "But when those monies come in and once there’s an assessment of what recovery looks like, those funds start to be distributed as part of the policy.”

Mayor Jim Ross said he hopes officials will never need to activate the fund, but Arlington is “primed” for a disaster.

“I hate to even say that, but with the amount of visitors we have in Arlington, we have to be prepared,” he said.

The NTCF will provide grants to eligible nonprofits and help identify groups that can assist specific to Arlington’s recovery needs. According to fund guidelines, nonprofits that receive funding must have strong relationships within impacted communities; be able to comprehensively address relief needs; improve lives of those impacted, especially people in low-income and underserved communities; and further disaster preparation and mitigation efforts.

Foundation looks to new programs, studies

Mentesana said the foundation – the largest funder in the city – is looking for ways to evolve to better serve nonprofits for the long run.

The foundation will move away from providing incentive grants for North Texas Giving Day activities and day-of programming. Instead, the foundation will provide all Arlington-based nonprofits training to help them be successful during the regional giving day.

The foundation awarded $75,000 in incentive grants last year to nonprofits. Mentesana said the funding last year resulted in checks to 10 groups. Training resources would be available to the city’s 135-160 nonprofits.

“We’re not going to always give them fish. We’re teaching the sector to fish,” she said.

The foundation in 2023 partnered with UT Arlington, United Way of Tarrant County and the city government to study the state of Arlington’s nonprofit sector. The study is set for release in the fall. The foundation will also host a June 7 networking event to collect more data on the needs of active nonprofits.

Funding approved

The Arlington Tomorrow Foundation approved six grant requests:

  • $500,000 for Arlington Parks and Recreation Department for a playground at Meadowbrook Park. The park will be inclusive for children of all ages and abilities. 
  • $150,000 for Arlington Animal Services to pilot a storefront adoption center at the Parks Mall.
  • $25,000 for Arlington ISD Education Foundation to fund the group’s 10th annual back to school kickoff.
  • $10,000 for River Legacy Foundation to help with costs for the park’s Bug Squad exhibit.
  • $20,000 to Sharefest Texas for bed frames and box springs for families who transition from shelters to homes.
  • $20,000 for Trinity Kids to offset travel costs related to summer camp.

Disclosure: The North Texas Community Foundation and Arlington Tomorrow Foundation have been financial supporters of the Arlington Report. News decisions at KERA News and the Fort Worth Report are made independently of each organizations’ board members and financial supporters.

Got a tip? Email Kailey Broussard at You can follow Kailey on Twitter @KaileyBroussard.

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Kailey Broussard covers Arlington for KERA News and The Arlington Report. Broussard has covered Arlington since 2020 and began at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram before joining the station in 2021.