Grant Application Bootcamp
Grant Application Bootcamp
Submitting competitive applications for federal infrastructure money can be challenging for small and mid-sized cities, towns, and villages. To assist these often-underserved communities, NLC and the Local Infrastructure Hub offer bootcamps for local governments with 150,000 or fewer residents.
Over the next two years, there will be at least 30 bootcamps, each tied to a specific category of funding available as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Please sign up to receive news about the next phase of bootcamps, which will launch this spring.
What to Expect
Towns and cities participating in these programs will receive support from NLC to develop a robust federal grant application, including access to templates, example submissions, and other resources that make for a well-composed application. The program provides a range of supports, including access to subject matter experts, individualized coaching sessions, office hours, and peer-to-peer learning where they can engage with a community of like-minded applicants aiming for infrastructure progress. The bootcamps, which require several hours of active participation each month, will last approximately three to four months. Participants will include mayors and municipal staff with job functions focused on finance, community engagement, and other relevant disciplines such as administrative and advisory affairs. A major emphasis will also be placed on helping communities understand federal priorities, such as equity and sustainability, and then incorporate these and other desired outcomes into submissions.
By the conclusion of the bootcamp, cities will be prepared to submit robust applications for federal funding opportunities in these programs.
Frequently Asked Questions
What bootcamps will be offered in the future?
Over the next two years, there will be at least 30 bootcamps corresponding with select grant programs. To date, bootcamps that fall into the following categories have been identified:
- Distance Learning, Telemedicine, and Broadband Program
- Middle Mile Grants Program
- Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program
- State Digital Equity Competitive Grant
- Clean Water State Revolving Funds (x2: Traditional; Emerging Contaminants)
- Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (x3: Traditional, Emerging Contaminants; Lead Service Lines Replacement)
Roads, Bridges, and Major Projects
- Local and Regional Project Assistance Grants (RAISE)
- State Incentives Pilot Program
- Bridge Investment Program
- Rural Surface Transportation Grant Program
- Reconnecting Communities
Passenger and Freight Rails
- Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement Grants
- Railroad Crossing Elimination Program
- Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities
- Flood Mitigation Assistance Grants
- Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-Saving Transportation (PROTECT)
- Safe Streets and Roads for All
Electric Vehicles, Buses and Ferries
- Charging and Fueling Infrastructure Grants (Corridor Charging)
- Charging and Fueling Infrastructure Grants (Community Charging)
- Clean School Bus Program
- Low or No Emission (Bus) Grants
- Brownfields Projects
- Pilot Program for Transit Oriented Development
- Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Grants
Clean Energy and Power
- Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program
- Energy Improvement in Rural and Remote Areas
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycling Education and Outreach Grants
Who will participate in the bootcamps and what is the expected time commitment?
Participating cities will be asked to identify a small team to engage in the bootcamp. A typical team will include:
- Mayor: Participates in selective modules to set goals, review the overall impact of draft grant applications, and implement long term capacity building measures. Time commitment: approximately 3 hours.
- Grant Lead: Participates in all modules and is the primary point of contact for the city’s team. Time commitment: approximately 2.5 to 10 hours per month.
- Community Engagement Lead: Participates in selective modules to help design community engagement strategies. Time commitment: approximately 4 to 10 hours.
- Finance Lead: Participates in budget and capital stacks modules. Time commitment: approximately 2 to 6 hours.
While the team configuration outlined here is representative of the typical team, depending on the city, the roles may be different (ex. a relevant expert such as the head of the public works department may be included). In some cities, a single person may also occupy multiple roles.
Can I participate in partnership with another city or with a group of neighboring municipalities?
Yes. Cities intending to partner together to apply for a grant may register as a coalition, although your city coalition will need to designate a dedicated point of contact and grant team that will participate.
If my city participates, what can we expect to learn?
Each bootcamp is designed to support cities in navigating the grant application process and strengthening applications, through peer learning, office hours and coaching opportunities.
Each bootcamp is comprised of eight modules tailored to a specific type of grant. While the specifics of each bootcamp will vary, here is a general outline of the eight modules:
- Setting the Table: Cities will be assigned to peer cohorts and will be guided through the process of how to complete an asset map for their community.
- Engaging the Community: Using the asset map, cities will learn and refine how they build and execute a community engagement strategy.
- Data Driven Decision Making: Cities will learn how to utilize data to understand problems, test and define solutions, ground applications in data, and ensure their grant applications will achieve the desired outcome/s.
- Demystifying Capital Stacks and Budgeting: Participants will learn how to refine and assemble a complex capital stack and budget for grant applications.
- Federal Administration Priorities: Participants will be provided guidance on how to align their grant application with broader federal priorities.
- Writing a Strong Grant Narrative: Cities will be provided with templates and guidance on how to write winning grant applications that are tailored to the metrics and policy priorities behind specific grant opportunities.
- Package, Submit, and Tell Your Story: Cities will receive help navigating the grant submission process and work with their chief executive on how to plan for post-submission advocacy and communications.
- Long Term Capacity Building: Cities will develop plans for compliance, communicating with the public about the transformational impact of the project, and organizing to attract future investments.
Are all of the modules required?
We recommend that cities participate in all modules as they are designed to provide comprehensive support across each key area of the featured grant applications. While the learning and coaching sessions will cover the primary learning outcomes, cities will also have the opportunity to engage in optional office hours as needed. Bootcamp modules will be taught live in a virtual environment; while sessions that are missed may be viewed later via recording, participants are encouraged to participate during the live sessions.
Can my city enroll in multiple bootcamps?
Yes, although because of the intensive nature of the bootcamps, if a city wishes to enroll in multiple bootcamps, each team will need to include a different set of individuals. If a city does not have multiple bootcamp teams, they may still access a range of self-guided tools and templates for any additional programs they are interested in outside of the primary live bootcamp they are enrolled in. They may also access materials available on the resources page.
Is there a cost to cities for participating?
There is no cost for cities selected to participate in the program.
After my city registers for the program, what are the next steps?
After registering, eligible cities will be contacted to schedule a 30-minute Readiness Call, where we can learn more about city capacity. Depending on the results of the call, a pre-bootcamp module may be added to help get the city ready for the bootcamp.
My city's population is above 150,000. What resources does the Local Infrastructure Hub offer for large cities?
Cities with populations above 150,000 are encouraged to participate in the Local Infrastructure Hub’s other offerings, which includes webinars and tools to help cities understand how to better leverage upcoming federal funding. You can learn more about upcoming events here and access the Opportunity Finder to learn more about programs that meet your communities’ priorities. Key resources from the bootcamps will also be shared publicly on the Local Infrastructure Hub resources page when available.
Will someone write my grant or will a grant writer be assigned to my city?
No, the Local Infrastructure Hub will not offer direct grant writing services. However, the bootcamps are designed to provide targeted support to city teams as they complete their application. Cities will be able to access a range of resources including access to subject matter experts in the event they have specific questions about their applications.