President Biden is growing the economy from the middle out and bottom up, and his Investing in America agenda unlocks billions of dollars in opportunity for states, territories, Tribes, and local governments to make a once-in-a-generation investment in infrastructure, clean energy and climate resilience.
Over 90% of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL)’s historic funding is being deployed by non-Federal partners. And the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) provides state, local, Tribal, territorial and non-governmental partners significant new funding for clean energy, climate mitigation and resilience, agriculture, and conservation-related investments through both grant funding and tax credits.
In the past, too many communities have lacked the resources to apply for and deploy transformative Federal funding opportunities. The Biden-Harris Administration has made it a major goal to help state, local, Tribal and territorial governments and other nongovernmental partners navigate, access, and deploy these record resources to build a better America.
From creating state infrastructure coordinators in partnership with governors to releasing guidebooks and toolkits to better navigate the infrastructure and clean energy laws; to standing up new programs to provide or fund technical advisors for lower-capacity communities, the Administration is ensuring all communities can access Federal funding.
Today, the White House released an updated technical assistance guide that focuses on federal and state technical assistance programs aimed at accessing and deploying Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act funding. The updated technical assistance guide builds on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Guidebook, Rural Playbook, and Tribal Playbook, and the Inflation Reduction Act’s Guidebook and Tribal Playbook. This new guide highlights programs that help communities navigate programs and resources that can help them deliver infrastructure, clean energy and climate resilience projects. The White House also maintains a webpage with resources on the Inflation Reduction Act’s “elective pay” (often called “direct pay”) provisions, through which tax-exempt and governmental entities can, for the first time, take advantage of tax credits for building clean energy projects.
While some of these programs offer hands-on and intensive planning and delivery support for communities, others are more self-directed resources and tools such as webinars and websites, or funding that can support project planning. The guide covers more than 150 technical assistance and capacity building programs encompassing well over $1 billion in Federal support. In addition to federal programs, the guide is also highlighting over a dozen new commitments from states to support local government applicants.
“The President’s commitment is to leave no community behind as we invest in America,” said Mitch Landrieu, Senior Advisor to the President and White House Infrastructure Coordinator. “That’s why we have put unprecedented focus on providing technical assistance to local communities. This guide is just one more way we’re working to ensure state, local, Tribal and territorial governments have the tools and resources they need to unlock the historic investments in President Biden’s Investing in America agenda.”
“President Biden’s Investing in America agenda takes historic action to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, lead the clean energy industries of the future, and create good-paying, union jobs. But those investments are only as good as our ability to get them into the hands of the communities who need them the most,” said John Podesta, Senior Advisor to the President for Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation. “Today’s new technical assistance guide is an important step to help those communities access funding, leverage multiple federal opportunities, and bring the benefits of these investments to Americans in every corner of the country.”
THRIVING COMMUNITIES NETWORK TO HELP UNLOCK HISTORIC FUNDING
While technical assistance has many forms, the most intensive technical assistance and capacity building is being delivered through the interagency Thriving Communities Network (TCN). Created in 2022, the TCN is a federal interagency effort to coordinate place-based technical assistance and capacity-building resources for urban, rural, and Tribal communities experiencing a history of economic distress and systemic disinvestment. These federal resources include grant and financial management support, pre-development assistance, community engagement, planning, and project delivery support. Through TCN, federal partners at the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and the Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Emergency Management Agency and General Services Administration are coordinating and collaborating across a set of specific assistance programs and engaging their regional and field staff who often serve as key points of contact for communities.
At a time of historic federal infrastructure and climate investment through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act, the Biden-Harris Administration has made its Justice40 pledge a priority, ensuring that 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain federal investments, such as climate, clean energy, and other areas, flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized and overburdened by pollution and underinvestment. This place-based technical assistance network is one way the Administration is committed to delivering on the Justice40 Initiative and advancing President Biden’s commitment to environmental justice.
Among key areas of technical assistance progress in the network:
- Launched in April 2022 and expanded in November 2022, the Rural Partners Network is now active in 36 community networks in 10 states and Puerto Rico. Community networks receive on-the-ground support from full-time federal staff who live and work locally. These staff members provide technical assistance based on each community’s needs, helping them navigate federal programs, build relationships and prepare successful applications for funding.
- Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) released a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for up to $22 million in grants to provide targeted technical assistance and a Call for Letters of Interest from communities seeking support through its Thriving Communities Program. Earlier this year, DOT announced four Capacity Builder teams received $21.15 million to provide technical assistance and support to 64 communities.
- Earlier this year, EPA, in partnership with the Department of Energy (DOE), announced the 16 Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Centers (EJ TCTACs) that will receive $177 million to help underserved and overburdened communities across the country. These centers will provide training and other assistance to build capacity for navigating federal grant application systems, writing strong grant proposals, and effectively managing grant funding.
- The Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization led by DOE is prioritizing the immediate needs of coal mining and power plant communities by coordinating, identifying, and delivering federal resources to all Energy Communities including rural, urban, oil, gas, fenceline and Tribal communities.
STATES PROVIDE UNPRECEDENTED SUPPORT
Because a majority of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding and critical Inflation Reduction Act grant funding flows to states through formula programs, the Administration has put a particular focus on helping states deploy those resources wisely and well, in part by establishing a state infrastructure coordinators network to provide hands-on coordination, technical assistance and support. Governors and state leaders from across the country have answered the call to get technical assistance to those who need it most. Over a dozen states are now providing significant technical assistance and local match resources to support accessing and deploying funding from the President’s Investing in America agenda. Leveraging the work of state infrastructure coordinators, states have begun to share and then emulate these best practices.
Among some of the new technical assistance models from states:
- Colorado created 14 Regional Grant Navigator (RGN) positions at each of the Councils of Government across the state to provide capacity support to Colorado local governments, special districts, and federally recognized Tribes seeking BIL and IRA funding opportunities through grant navigation, writing and review, technical support, resource sharing and regional collaboration support.
- Delaware’s Grant Assistance Program at the University of Delaware is providing free technical grant assistance to local governments funded by the state budget for BIL programs and other competitive and formula grant opportunities through project development, grant writing assistance, and project delivery assistance, including project implementation support, grant management, and reporting assistance.
- The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Federal Grant Support Program is making up to $15 million available to Illinois-based businesses and organizations seeking competitive federal grants.
- Prompted by President Biden’s Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization, Kentucky created a program to help local governments and nonprofit entities apply for and match available federal funding.
- Louisiana’s Governor’s Office is partnering with the Louisiana Municipal Association and Police Jury Association to deliver technical assistance and non-federal match support to local governments via a newly created joint non-profit, the Louisiana Infrastructure Technical Assistance Corporation, funded with $25 million in state funds.
- Maine’s Community Resilience Partnership (CRP) provides financial and technical assistance to communities to plan and implement climate-ready infrastructure, increase community resilience to the impacts of climate change, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For example, the Towns of Blue Hill, Surry and Brooksville received CRP funding to complete a climate vulnerability assessment across all three communities, positioning them for federal funding to improve a highly vulnerable and shared wastewater treatment facility.
- Massachusetts is distributing direct local technical assistance funding to each of the Commonwealth’s 13 regional planning agencies to enable municipalities to take on federal funding applications and other projects they may not have the staff capacity to address on their own.
- Michigan’s new infrastructure office established a Technical Assistance Center to allow eligible recipients to receive support for BIL funding applications through project planning, application writing, and compliance support. Through the Make it in Michigan Competitiveness Fund, technical assistance is also available for IRA and CHIPS funding applications.
- Minnesota is providing state grant funds of up to $30,000 for local agencies and Tribes that seek to apply for a federal discretionary grant for a transportation related purpose.
- Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources established a direct technical assistance program for eligible school districts and Tribal organizations looking to participate in EPA’s Clean School Bus Program, boosting the number of applicants for the program. Wisconsin entities were awarded funding for 65 electric school buses.
- Rhode Island’s Governor’s office and the Partnership for Rhode Island created CompeteRI to provide capacity and technical support to state agencies, municipalities, Tribal governments, educational institutions, nonprofits, and private entities as they apply for BIL grants.
PHILANTHROPY AND OTHER PARTNERS STEP IN
Ensuring that the full benefits of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Investing in America agenda reach the people and places that need them most requires a concerted effort not only from the federal government, but from non-federal actors of all kinds. Much of this progress wouldn’t be possible without the many philanthropic organizations that have stepped up to support states and local communities in delivering on this once-in-a-generation investment.
Philanthropy has long played a critical role in advancing climate action and providing crucial capacity-building, technical assistance, and direct support to nonprofit organizations and low-income and underserved communities.
In response to the Administration’s external engagement efforts, philanthropic, labor and nonprofit organizations have committed new resources to assist communities accessing and deploying federal infrastructure funding, including:
- Bloomberg Philanthropies, Emerson Collective, Ballmer Group, Ford Foundation, and the Kresge Foundation, launched the Local Infrastructure Hub, a national program to ensure that all U.S. cities and towns can access federal infrastructure funding to drive local recovery, improve communities, and deliver results for residents. The $55 million commitment of support for local communities, delivered in collaboration with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities, and Results for America, has brought together leading experts and resources to help city leaders access and ambitiously leverage funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act to advance groundbreaking solutions to major challenges, especially narrowing wealth disparities for communities of color and cutting the emissions that cause climate change. To date, the Local Infrastructure Hub has delivered technical assistance and strategic guidance to more than 1,100 local governments.
- Accelerator for America (AFA) is providing technical assistance and capacity building to help local government and economic development leaders maximize this moment of new investment in infrastructure and climate action. AFA is supporting more than 40 communities with in-kind support for strategic planning/predevelopment, grant writing, workforce development initiatives, peer learning cohorts, and project delivery innovation. AFA is facilitating partnerships and support from the private sector, philanthropy and other government partners to help local leaders leverage additional funding, as part of a Capacity Builder Team within DOT’s Thriving Communities Program. AFA supported cities have won millions in DOT discretionary grants.
- The Catalyze Registry is a new philanthropic registry and matchmaking service born out of The White House’s Talent Pipeline Challenge announced by President Biden last November. Led by What Works Plus funder collaborative and America Achieves, the Catalyze Registry enables philanthropy to scale needed support for initiatives that build a diverse talent pool for quality infrastructure careers. To date, 18 national funders have accessed the registry to learn about federally funded place-based coalitions seeking about $35 million in philanthropy to maximize their impact.
- The State Funding Readiness Project (SFRP) is a collaborative program between the U.S. Climate Alliance and Hua Nani Partners that provides no-cost rapid response technical assistance to help states leverage federal investments from the BIL and IRA in ways that advance climate equity priorities and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The program matches states with specialized experts that offer a wide range of technical support services, including grant-writing assistance, technical sector expertise, and Justice40 implementation, to help develop ambitious and competitive grant applications. SFRP fills gaps in state expertise and capacity that hinder their ability to apply for federal funding opportunities. Since 2022, SFRP has assisted 11 states in submitting 17 federal grant applications targeting more than $980 million in program funding.
- Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has signed a memorandum of understanding with DOT to coordinate aligned Reconnecting Communities technical assistance efforts to plan and build infrastructure that reconnects and improves access, especially for marginalized communities. Working with philanthropic organizations like RWJF leverages additional resources and enables support to more communities and organizations that are working to provide people with better mobility options to facilitate community revitalization, catalyze equitable development and create access to more economic opportunities.
- Communities First Infrastructure Alliance, supported by numerous national and community foundations, has brought together government, philanthropic, and community leaders committed to advancing more inclusive public investment. The Communities First Fund resources community-based organizations to expand their capacity and effectively engage in the public process as part of a longer-term movement-building strategy and to fortify the civic infrastructure to meet this moment. To foster greater coordination among capacity builders, technical assistance providers, practitioners, and community partners, Communities First is coordinating Regional Convenings in the coming months to elevate emerging priorities, champion best practices, and encourage accountability standards that address the challenges of those disproportionately impacted by past underinvestment at scale. The regional convenings will support communities to unlock the federal resources available and actualize the climate & racial justice commitments of the Biden-Harris Administration.
- The Milken Institute (MI) is working to accelerate the development of a robust pipeline of shovel-worthy community infrastructure projects, focusing especially on under-served rural, urban, tribal and environmental justice communities with capacity challenges. MI’s Community Infrastructure Center platform connects community project sponsors to federal and non-federal funding sources and project readiness tools to help communities develop loan-worthy, grant-worthy and investment-ready projects. The CIC was initially supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce. To engage local communities and states about the importance of project predevelopment to enable communities to effectively access new federal funding, MI formed the 10,000 Communities Initiative, a collaborative partnership effort that organizes regional events across the U.S. to advance pipeline. Since public roll-out in January, 2023, the CIC platform now has 250 individual communities using our tools and 27 organizations now building a portfolio of 2500+ climate and rural equity projects using dedicated channels on the platform.
In conjunction with the 1-year anniversary of the Inflation Reduction Act, the White House recently announced that major philanthropic organizations have formed several “pooled funds,” and, in combination with aligned national philanthropies, impact investing organizations and intermediaries, have committed over $1.6 billion to support the implementation of the clean energy and climate provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act. This support will ensure more direct access to critical technical assistance for underserved communities so that they can realize the full benefits of the law.
A current list of participants in this effort include: Ballmer Group, Bezos Earth Fund, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Breakthrough Energy, ClimateWorks Foundation, Communities First, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Elemental Excelerator, Ford Foundation, High Tide Foundation, Hyphen, James Irvine Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, J40 Accelerator, Joshua and Anita Bekenstein Charitable Fund, Kresge Foundation, McKnight Foundation, Omidyar Network, Open Society Foundations, Open Society Policy Center, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, RF Catalytic Capital, Rural Climate Partnership, Sea Change Foundation, Sequoia Climate Foundation, Skoll Foundation, The Families and Workers Fund, The JPB Foundation, The Just Transition Fund, The Rockefeller Foundation, Three Cairns Group, U.S. Energy Foundation, Waverley Street Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Wyss Foundation.
These philanthropic initiatives will support communities and organizations across the country as they work to access the programs and opportunities contained in the Investing in America agenda, create good-paying local jobs, grow clean energy industries and good jobs, and create better, more equitable, and healthier places to live.
Examples of initiatives this philanthropic funding is intended to support include:
- expanding green spaces to combat urban heat and build climate resilience,
- supporting technical and planning assistance to access programs like direct pay tax incentives to advance community-led priorities and grant programs for electric utilities and rural co-ops to invest in clean energy infrastructure,
- providing no-cost federal grant writing services to Tribes,
- underwriting regional convenings with government and community leaders,
- accelerating support for state and local understanding and use of federal investments, like the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund and clean energy tax credits,
- empowering workers through union labor and workplace advocacy to engage in the clean energy transition,
- and ensuring that the clean energy economy is made real and benefits everyone, especially in low-income, rural, energy, and disadvantaged communities.
The Biden-Harris Administration welcomes additional commitments from nongovernmental stakeholders to support states and help local communities access this once-in-a-generation investment.