Sourcing additional funds through grant programs, legislative action, bond initiatives, public/private partnerships, or partnerships with other local agencies can be effective tools for local and state agencies to advance important projects that might otherwise sit idle in out-years of a capital improvement program.
The recent Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), and the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA), have many new grant and legislative funding options. We can help you leverage these funds.
HR Green’s staff includes former public sector employees along with diversely skilled planners, engineers, scientists, and managers who understand the multiple aspects of federal aid project delivery and how to position a project for funding. We assist public agencies in both identifying and securing outside financial resources while helping our clients through the regulatory and administrative requirements that accompany these funding sources. We bring a very successful track record of securing funding, and we also provide turnkey services to deliver your important capital improvement projects through the planning, design, and construction phases.
The following are key components to the grant writing and related funding procurement process that community leaders should take into consideration when applying for and managing grant funds for projects.
Identify Project Early + Discuss with Key Stakeholders
A crucial first step is to identify project targets for grant applications or other strategic funding sources. Strategic planning sessions should include key stakeholders such as City staff, grant administrators, engineers, planners, and consultants. The goal is to collaborate and identify your community’s immediate and long-term needs. Make sure to consider how the funding will solve a problem as well as any negative impact if the project does not receive funding. Also identify key social, economic, or environmental benefits that would align with the objectives of various funding sources. Finally, create a budget that itemizes the various costs of the project.
Next, prioritize projects based on their measurable impact on the community and stakeholders including population groups, schools, organizations, public utilities, churches, the environment, safety, social justice elements, emergency response, and the local municipality. Leverage existing data such as staff experience, repair history, system performance, previous studies, or engineering reports determining each project’s priority. There are multiple state and national databases that can help you with this endeavor. Your strategic planning team needs to collaborate to develop a recommended project that maximizes the available grant budget and has the highest potential for acceptance. Project readiness for the targeted funds is a critical assessment.
Prepare + Submit Grant Applications
Preparing grant applications is a challenging and daunting task for many community leaders. It is often advantageous to get professional assistance from a grant writing company or your engineering or planning consultant. You may also need to engage your engineer or consulting firm to help define your project scope and provide an Engineers Opinion of Project Cost (EOPC) and perform a Benefit-Cost Analysis (BCA) to prove the return is greater than the investment. This information solidifies your case to receive funding and is a crucial piece of your narrative. It is essential that your data supports your story about how the issue has impacted your community, how the funding can help alleviate your hardship, and how the project achieves the objectives of the particular grant.
The time from application submission to award notice varies for each grant, but typically, funding decisions are made within three to six months. Completing the agreement and obtaining approval to begin incurring costs could take an additional three to six months. If you do not secure the grant funding, it is acceptable to ask for feedback on the application’s denial. Getting feedback will help you gather additional valuable information for your next grant submittal. If you successfully secured funding, your work is not over. Many grants require specific guidelines, standards, and management activities for the use of the funds as well as performance measures to track the achievement of objectives.
Effective Project Management
Once you have received the grant funding, you must effectively manage the project. Your project team must follow and meet all of the grant instructions and measurements of success. Additionally, you must adhere to all administrative requirements such as proper financial management, environmental studies, and other documentation in case of an audit. Effective project management will also be essential for establishing the design, bid, and construction phases.