Positioning for competitive grant application success

Positioning for competitive grant application success

With ratings of competitive, surfacearea transport grant programs to administer, USDOT dealswith a heavy lift to get these programs off the ground, on top of administering the tradition programs that currently existed. How oughtto potential grant candidates start preparing for success?

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promo graphic for a guide to the IIJA

This post is part of a series we are producing at T4America to describe the brand-new $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which now governs all federal transport policy and financing through 2026. What do you requirement to understand about the brand-new facilities law?  We understand that federal transport policy can be frightening and puzzling. Our center for this law will guide you through it, from the fundamentals all the method to more complex information.

The USDOT will have to discover methods to administer and balance almost 5 lots programs with other Biden administration objectives, like the Justice40 effort that highlights fair circulation of resources, particularly towards traditionally marginalized neighborhoods. They’ve got a lot of work to do. But neighborhoods wear’t requirement to wait on USDOT to start preparing their jobs that highlight the state of repairwork of their transport system, advance security for all users, and enhance movement and gainaccessto for all individuals.

Here are three critical techniques that neighborhoods can usage to muchbetter position themselves to win competitive grants.

1) Match job goals to the program requirements

The most effective jobs plainly specify the issue or requirement of your neighborhood, and tailor the job to plainly address these requires—and those requires match the requirements that USDOT hasactually laid out for assessing jobs. This indicates gathering and using information, observations, and neighborhood feedback that affirm the issue or requirement. 

It likewise suggests putting the task in context. Remember those evaluating your application might not be familiar with your task or your obstacles and might neverever haveactually been to your neighborhood at all. So start your application by plainly specifying what the task is, why it is required in the neighborhood, what will be achieved by structure it, and other efforts in the location (past and present) that will assistance those outcomes. It is likewise practical to consistof maps, photos, and sketches to aid those evaluating your application completely comprehend what is at stake and what might be achieved. 

For example, depending on the context of the grant, USDOT looks positively upon tasks that are well-integrated into the advancement of their nearby developed environment and area, and that have broad assistance from everybody included or impacted. While transport jobs can have particular objectives like cutting down on traffic or producing financial advancement, they needto not do these at the expenditure of other objectives like equity, realestate price, or ecological health. USDOT acknowledges this and benefits tasks that type varied unions, have buy-in from regional services, and finest fulfill the wider requires of the surrounding neighborhood. 

Projects will be filtered for eligibility however examined veryfirst and primary on how well they address the requirements consistedof in the notification of financing chance. Everything else is secondary. Your job does not requirement to knock it out of the park on all of the requirements (rarely does any job do that), however it oughtto produce remarkable results in 2 or 3 locations.

2) Build a strong, broad union of assistance

Projects with a broad base of advocates will constantly do muchbetter. This suggests assistance from the neighborhood, civic leaders and regional chosen leaders. It likewise assists to have support from your state, specifically if you requirement your state department of transport to handle the cash or aid with the task. But USDOT will comprehend if you are dealing with a state that does not share your (and USDOT’s) concerns. If that is the case, state it outright.

When structure a union for a task, thinkabout who else would care about a possible task? Who else is a rational partner and stakeholder that you might worktogether with? Perhaps a surrounding neighborhood is likewise pursuing a comparable concern, presenting a opportunity to swimmingpool resources together. Explore collaborations with the personal sector. Advocacy to state legislatures to set aside financing to assistance state and regional matches to grant programs, like what Colorado is doing, can go a long method in making grant applications more competitive. And even muchbetter is to construct or establish tasks from the start with partners and stakeholders who will be automated champs as that job moves forward, rather than attempting to collect support for a finished job concept.

A broad variety of fans can aid you put together a regional match, which most competitive grant programs still need. State and regional task sponsors should bring some quantity of non-federal financing to match the federal dollars. Any financing that does not comefrom with the federal federalgovernment will do, consistingof regional, state, humanitarian, organization and even some in-kind contributions. A broad number of factors is typically more outstanding than a bigger single source of financing. This is essential since jobs frequently run into difficulty along the method. Maybe quotes come back high or buildingandconstruction discovers an unanticipated energy or artifact. When such issues takeplace, jobs are more mostlikely to continue and be effective with a broad variety of assistance.(It’s almost a years old, however our guide on regional profits finest practices is still a excellent beginning point to findout about the offered choices.)

Finally, assistance from your congressional delegation is great too. It won’t aid if your job doesn’t match the program requirements, however USDOT may usage this assistance as a tie breaker. If there are a coupleof similarly great jobs, it simply makes sense for USDOT to pick the one that has assistance from the Congressional delegation. Letters are a great beginning point, however phone calls and conferences with USDOT are muchbetter.

3) Know the financing program criteria

Choosing and using to the right competitive grant program is needed for most successfully collaborating the above methods. If you would like to understand the breadth of choices readilyavailable, check out our financing briefs. You can view all the numerous programs by the tasks they can fund and for which jurisdictional level. Note: lotsof grants have large versatility that might not be instantly apparent. We did our finest in these financing briefs to explain these versatilities, so checkout carefully. 

Once an candidate chooses a program, candidates needto recognize what USDOT needs for that financing. The Notice of Funding Opportunities (NOFO) for each program clearly mentions the requirements (such as the 2022 RAISE grants NOFO that was launched on January 28th). Past NOFOs and grant applications—even from other candidates!—available in the public record, are a helpful resource for understanding what effective applications appearance like. Applicants who are prepared to put in more time can dig into the US Code (23 or 49 USC) or the Code of Federal Regulations (23 or 49 CFR). 

Applicants will likewise requirement to set up the needed administrative actions. For circumstances, they will requirement to understand or demand a Unique Entity Identifier through SAM.gov. If your company hasactually been utilizing a DUNS number, a distinct identifier has currently been appointed because the federal federalgovernment is moving away from DUNS by April 4,2022 These actions are more various than we can quickly consistof here, however we can direct you to some resources that can assist: 1) The USDOT keeps a site on how to do service with the FHWA, which consistsof a particular page on FHWA terms and conditions, 2) FTA has its own site layingout the The Transit Award Management System (TrAMS), its center for federal transit grants, and 3) the General Services Administration keeps a website for live grant chance listings. 

Read and pay close attention to who is eligible to use, what jobs are qualified for financing, as well as when and how to use. And get to work on all of these requirements early. Get your Unique Entity Identifier as quickly as you can, as this will take weeks if you wear’t currently have one. In reality, you do not have to wait to use for a grant to set this up. Also, Grants.gov needs you to set up an account, and it can get overloaded by extremely popular programs close to the duedate. Don’t danger it! Do whatever you can in advance. Apply a week early since you will not get more time if the system goes down at the last minute.

Still notsure on program criteria or if your job is qualified? Each NOFO lists a webinar to get an introduction of the financing chance, ask concerns, and discover the procedure to follow up with extra concerns. You can likewise contact your FHWA Division HQ or Regional FTA HQ and ask concerns of them over e-mail or phone. In addition, T4A members gain gainaccessto to our personnel and our understanding of federal programs. 

Want gainaccessto to thorough analysis of what your neighborhood requires to do to tap into federal financing? Consider joining as a T4A Member.

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