Association of Science and Technologies Centers

ASTC has been keeping up with the fast-moving actions in Washington, D.C., that impact the operation of science and technology centers and museums as businesses and employers. We will continue to make updates to this page as more information becomes available about implementation.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (see summary in this blog post), which have passed Congress and signed into law, include a number of provisions relevant to nonprofit organizations. Relevant provisions are described below.

Business Considerations

Federal Grants and Contracts

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has issued guidance for Federal agencies relevant to recipients of federal support—including grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements—on administrative relief relevant to COVID-19:

These memos enable awarding agencies to allow recipients to continue to charge salaries and benefits to currently active Federal awards and may consider as allowable costs related to the cancellation of events or travel. Awarding agencies may also automatically approve no cost extensions for up to 12 months for awards scheduled to expire before December 31, 2020.

Department of Education

Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)

  • CARES Act Guidelines: Grants for $50,000 to help nonprofit arts organizations and their employees endure the economic hardships caused by the forced closure of their operations

National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)

  • NEH Cares: Grants of up to $300,000 to help cultural entities continue to advance their mission during the interruption of their operations due to the coronavirus pandemic

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

National Science Foundation (NSF)

Recovery Resources

Small Business Loans and Forgiveness

The CARES Act makes 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations eligible for both the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) 7(a) loans and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program. Although an institution may apply to both programs, the needs must be distinct.

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

SBA PPP Program logoThe Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is designed to help businesses keep their workforce employed during the COVID-19 crisis. The CARES Act allocated $349 billion for forgivable loans for small businesses, nonprofits, sole proprietorships, independent contractors, and self-employed persons to provide cash-flow assistance through 100 percent federally guaranteed loans to employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency.

Applicants will be asked to make a good-faith certification that current economic uncertainty makes a loan request necessary to support their ongoing operations. SBA, in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, has established a safe harbor provision for any loans less than $2 million that borrowers “will be deemed to have made the required certification concerning the necessity of the loan request in good faith.” Loans over $2 million are subject to review by SBA on the necessity of the loan request, including both economic harm due to COVID-19 and the lack of access to adequate sources of liquidity.

The PPP is available to organizations with 500 or fewer total employees (adding both full- and part-time, not FTEs). Guidance from SBA suggests that this should be calculated as the average number of people employed for each pay period over the business’s latest 12 calendar months. Any person on the payroll must be included as one employee regardless of hours worked or temporary status. However, this does not include independent contractors (who are eligible to apply for PPP independently).

Organizations with more than 500 employees may also be eligible if they meet the relevant size standard for their industry. Science centers and museums are listed under the “Museums” category (NAICS code 712110), which has a size standard of $30 million. This refers to the average annual receipts/revenue, which is generally calculated as the average of “your total receipts/revenue or total income plus cost of goods sold (including all affiliates, if any)” over the last three completed fiscal years.

Employers may request a loan of up to two months of your average monthly payroll costs plus an additional 25 percent, up to a maximum of $10 million. The loan proceeds will provide support for payroll and benefits (including paid leave, insurance premiums, retirement contributions, and state and local taxes) and most mortgage, rent, and utility payments over the eight week period after the loan is made.

Employers that maintain employment between February 15 and June 30 would be eligible to have their loans forgiven, essentially turning the loan into a grant. Loan recipients may receive 100 percent forgiveness for these loans for eligible expenses (including payroll, rent, and utilities) through December 31, 2020. Note that compensation above $100,000 is not considered eligible for loan forgiveness.

To encourage employers to retain their employees at current salary levels, the amount forgiven will be reduced proportionally by any reduction in employees retained compared to the prior year and reduced by the reduction in pay of any employee earning less than $100,000 beyond 25 percent of their prior year compensation. To encourage employers to rehire any employees who have already been laid off due to the COVID-19 crisis, borrowers that re-hire workers previously laid off will not be penalized for having a reduced payroll at the beginning of the period. In short, you have until June 30, 2020 to restore your full-time employment and salary levels for any changes made between February 15, 2020 and April 26, 2020.

On May 15, SBA made it clear that employers who have made a good-faith, written offer to rehire workers laid off or furloughed will be held harmless in forgiveness calculation, even if those re-employment offers were declined. There is also an exception in FTE reduction for any employees who were fired for cause, voluntarily resigned, or voluntarily requested and received a reduction of hours.

Given a large anticipated number of applications, at least 75 percent of the forgiven amount must be used for payroll. The CARES Act relaxed requirements for determining repayment ability and creditworthiness, including suspending collateral or personal guarantees. No fees will be charged by the lenders or government.

Any amount of the loan that is not forgiven has a maturity of 2 years and an interest rate of 1 percent. All payments are deferred for 6 months, but interest will accrue during this period.

Application will be made through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program Lenders may begin processing loan applications as soon as Friday, April 3, 2020. SBA has posted a sample application form so you can begin to collect the required information, including payroll documentation.

Although the program extends through June 30, 2020, institutions are encouraged to apply as quickly as possible because there is a funding cap, and lenders will need time to process applications.

As of April 16, the original $349 billion appropriation for PPP has been exhausted, and SBA is not accepting additional applications. The program provided 1.6 million loans for small business through almost 5,000 lenders, with an overall average loan size of $206,000. Although 74 percent of loans were for less than $150,000, this represents just 17 percent of the PPP funds; the 4 percent of loans for more than $1 million each represent nearly 45 percent of total dollar value for the program. The Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation sector—where museums are categorized—received almost 40,000 loans for a total of $4.9 billion (1.44 percent of the total). (See additional information in data released by SBA).

In late April, the program was recapitalized with $250 billion more in funding for the PPP with an additional $60 billion set aside for lending through community banks.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs)

Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) provide small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories are eligible to apply.

These loans, which have a term of up to 30 years, will have a 2.75 percent interest rate for nonprofits (3.75% for for-profit companies).

SBA $10k advance logoSmall business may also apply for an advance of up to $10,000 that will be made available within three days of a successful application and will not have to be repaid.

Charitable Giving

For those who will be engaging in fundraising to help weather the current crisis, the CARES Act includes a provision that allows a partial “above the line” deduction for charitable contributions. This means that individuals will be able to deduct charitable cash contributions up to $300 even if they do not itemize deductions on their federal taxes.

For those who do itemize, there is also a temporary suspension of the limitations on charitable contributions. During 2020, individuals will no longer be limited to 60 percent of adjusted gross income as a deduction. For corporations, the present 10 percent limitation will be increased to 25 percent of taxable income.

Several ongoing advocacy efforts are seeking to raise those caps and extend the provisions of the CARES Act. See the COVID-19 Advocacy Toolkit for additional information.


A growing number of foundations have signed on to a pledge to provide their grantees with flexibility as they respond to this crisis. Signatories agree to a a set of commitments including:

  • Loosen or eliminate the restrictions on current grants, such as converting project-based grants to unrestricted support; accelerating payment schedules; and not holding grantees responsible if conferences, events, and other project deliverables must be postponed or canceled.
  • Make new grants as unrestricted as possible, so nonprofit partners have maximum flexibility to respond to this crisis.
  • Reduce requirements and expectations of nonprofit partners, such as postponing reporting requirements, site visits, and other demands on their time.
  • Learn from these emergency practices and share what they teach the foundations about effective partnership and philanthropic support, so they may consider adjusting practices more fundamentally in the future, in more stable times, based on what is learned.

Asking current funders—such as foundations, other philanthropists, and corporate giving programs—for increased flexibility within existing grants may help you continue to develop innovative approaches to advancing your mission during this critical time for your community. If you are considering asking for emergency support from these sources, keep in mind that many philanthropic funders and corporations have been hit hard by market declines. Please feel free to use the templates and messages that we have developed for elected officials to help make the case to funders for additional support.

Several lists of COVID-19 relief funds are also being developed, including:

If there are resources that would be helpful with current or new funders, please email to tell us how we can help.

Employment Resources

Employee Leave

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) passed Congress and was signed into law by President Trump.

On March 20, the U.S. Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service, and Department of Labor announced the creation of two new refundable tax credits that will be available to businesses and tax-exempt organizations with fewer than 500 employees. These measures are designed to immediately and fully reimburse those employers dollar-for-dollar for the cost of providing coronavirus-related leave to their employees.

Employees will receive up to 80 hours of paid sick leave at 100 percent of normal pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined, and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, and seeking a medical diagnosis.

The Act also provides expanded paid child care leave when employees’ children’s schools are closed or child care providers are unavailable. (Employers with fewer than 50 employees may seek an exemption from the child care provision if the viability of business would be threatened.)

Employers will receive 100 percent reimbursement for paid leave pursuant to the Act, including health insurance costs, with no payroll tax liability.

Direct Payments to Workers

The CARES Act includes provisions for direct payments to Americans. Those who are making up to $75,000 (individual) or $150,000 (married) would receive $1,200 in cash payments with an additional $500 per child under age 17; those making over these amounts would see a decreased payment. Payments will be made automatically using the payment or address information on file with the Internal Revenue Service for tax returns submitted in 2018 or 2019. Those who are not required to file a tax return will still be eligible, but may need to take additional steps to receive their payment.

Unemployment Considerations

The CARES Act includes a temporary Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) of $600 per week for any worker eligible for state or Federal unemployment compensation benefits through July 31, 2020. The FPUC is in addition to and at the same time as regular state or Federal unemployment compensation. The Act also provides some coverage to those who would not normally be eligible for benefits—such as self-employed individuals and independent contractors—as long as their unemployment was connected to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Federal government is providing full funding for states with Short-Time compensation or “work sharing” programs, in which employers voluntarily make an agreement with the state
unemployment office to prevent layoffs by reducing employee hours; states usually bear the full cost of these arrangements. The CARES Act also enables states to provide an additional 13 weeks of emergency unemployment compensation for workers who exhaust regular benefits.

Nonprofit organizations that self-insure rather than pay state unemployment taxes (SUTA) may only be eligible to receive half of the costs of benefits provided to their laid-off employees. In addition, employees of very small nonprofits that are exempt from unemployment laws (generally those with fewer than four employees) are also not included, except in the event of a declared “major disaster,” which has only been announced for selected states. (See additional information from the National Council of Nonprofits.)

General Resources

American Alliance of Museums

Association of Children’s Museums


National Council of Nonprofits

Independent Sector


U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Council on Foundations

Chronicle of Philanthropy

Colleen Dilenschneider

This page is provided as a service to the community to provide general information to the science center community and should not be construed as legal or financial advice. We encourage you to consult with appropriate counsel for guidance specific to your institution and situation. Inclusion of links does not necessarily imply endorsement by ASTC.

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