Funding Alert! Opportunities for Restoring Communities

Department of Transportation

Attention government officials, metropolitan planning organizations, and non-profits! The Department of Transportation (DOT) is now accepting proposals for its Reconnecting Communities Pilot Discretionary Grant program. The program provides technical assistance and grant funding for planning and capital construction to address infrastructure barriers, restore community connectivity, and improve people’s lives. Applications for this program are due October 13, 2022.

Who is eligible to apply?

This opportunity is for state, county, city or township, and Native American Tribal governments, and nonprofits with a 501(c)(3) status other than IHEs. Transportation facility owners are eligible for the capital construction sub-opportunity.

Applicants without experience in DOT funding might consider jointly applying with a partner in the same state or region that has an established relationship with DOT and knowledge of Federal grant administration requirements. This may minimize delays in establishing and implementing funding agreements.

What are the program details?

This program aims to reconnect communities by removing, retrofitting, or mitigating highways or other transportation facilities that create barriers to community connectivity by mobility, access, or economic development. The variety of transformative solutions to knit communities back together can include high-quality public transportation, infrastructure removal, pedestrian walkways and overpasses, capping over roadways, linear parks and trail connectors, roadway redesigns and complete streets conversions, and main street revitalization. With an estimated funding pool of $195 million, the FY22 RCP program anticipates funding 125 total awards. There are two types of grants available, planning and capital construction.

Planning Grants fund the study of removing, retrofitting, or mitigating an existing facility to restore community connectivity; conduct public engagement; and other transportation planning activities. In FY 2022, DOT may award up to $50 million for eligible public engagement, feasibility studies, and other planning activities and anticipates planning grants may range from $100,000 to $2 million. Applicants eligible include state, local, and federally recognized tribal governments, and metropolitan planning and non-profit organizations.

Capital Construction Grants carry out a project to remove, retrofit, mitigate, or replace an existing eligible facility with a new facility that reconnects communities. In FY 2022, DOT may award up to $145 million for eligible construction activities necessary to carry out a project to remove, retrofit, or mitigate an existing eligible facility or replace an existing eligible facility with a new facility that reconnects communities. DOT anticipates that capital construction grants may range from $5 million to $100 million. If a project is partially funded, project components executed through the RCP award must demonstrate independent utility. Eligible applicants must be the owner of the eligible facility proposed with necessary feasibility studies and planning activities complete. Owners may submit a joint application with state, local, and federally recognized tribal governments, and metropolitan planning and non-profit organizations.

What makes a project a good fit?

A cornerstone of the RCP program is DOT’s Equity Strategic Goal to reduce inequities across our transportation systems and the communities they affect. The program will support and engage economically disadvantaged communities to increase affordable, accessible, and multimodal access to daily destinations like jobs, healthcare, grocery stores, schools, places of worship, recreation, and park space to address this goal. Applicants should address these equity-related objectives as applicable:

Housing Supply: DOT intends to further the goals of the White House Housing Supply Action Plan by encouraging an increase in housing supply, particularly location-efficient affordable housing, locally driven land use and zoning reform, rural main street revitalization, growth management, and transit-oriented development.

Rural and Tribal Communities: Consistent with DOT’s Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success (ROUTES) initiative, DOT seeks to award funding to rural and Tribal communities which face unique challenges related to mobility and economic development, including isolation, transportation cost burden, and traffic safety.

In addition, projects are evaluated using the following priorities:

Safety: In support of the National Roadway Safety Strategy, which commits DOT to respond to the current crisis in roadway fatalities, DOT encourages communities to adopt and implement Complete Streets policies that prioritize the safety of all users.

Economic Strength and Global Competitiveness: The program intends to strengthen the economy by creating good-paying jobs with the free and fair choice to join a union, strong labor standards, and workforce programs.

Climate and Sustainability: As part of the United States’ commitment to reaching net-zero emissions economy-wide by 2050, applicants should consider environmental justice, climate change, energy efficiency, sustainability, resilience, flood risk, and shifting trips to more affordable, safe, and less polluting modes of travel.

Transformation: The program will advance innovative solutions to reconnecting communities through technical assistance, applicants’ research and study of communities divided by infrastructure, and program evaluation that will assess the outcomes of the pilot.

What if I am ready to apply? To move your project forward, take the following action steps as soon as possible:

What if I need help with this application?

Contact Assel Grant Services (AGS) today! Our team can help with preparing the application and managing the grant if you are awarded. If you want to discuss this possibility, please contact AGS as soon as possible. Julie Assel, GPC, President/CEO, will be happy to talk with you about this opportunity and provide you with a quote for grant services.

What if I am not ready to apply this year?

Start preparing for next year! DOT also has a variety of other programs and funding opportunities available that might be a good fit. The office’s website has ample resources, webinars, and descriptions of available or upcoming opportunities.

How do I learn more about federal grant proposal writing so my application is more likely to be successful?

AGS is excited to offer a Federal Grants Training Series in 2022! The series is designed to support leaders at institutions of higher education before and during the application process. AGS also offers on-demand webinars on a variety of topics to support the full grant cycle. Check out our website to learn more and sign up for our training newsletter.

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Competency #1: Knowledge of how to research, identify, and match funding resources to meet specific needs

Skill 1.2: Identify major trends in public funding and public policy

Skill 1.6: Identify fundable programs and projects for specific organization

Skill 1.7: Determine best matches between funders and specific programs