Remaining Opportunities: Breaking Through Barriers to Access Competitive BIL and IRA Funds
May 17, 2024

There are many active funding opportunities under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) as well as many opportunities still to come. If you haven’t yet applied for a competitive infrastructure or clean energy grant, this resource is for you!

Afraid you’ve missed the boat?

There are still billions of dollars of infrastructure funding left. Funding for most BIL competitive grant programs goes at least until fiscal year 2026, so these programs still have a few more funding rounds to go. Below is information about how to access remaining opportunities as well as resources to assist you in developing an application.

Having trouble keeping up with all of the available information?

Automate your updates. The LIH insider is a monthly email update of open and upcoming funding opportunities with brief explainers and relevant deadlines. If you have a specific grant program that you are interested in and you want to know as soon as the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) becomes available, you can often sign up for updates for that specific program on the agency website.

Not sure where to start?

Search these resources to match your community priorities to a specific grant program. There are so many grant programs available that being overwhelmed by all of the options is understandable. To begin tailoring and prioritizing funding opportunities, governments should outline their climate and infrastructure goals before seeking out grants that match. 

Once you have a sense of what kind of projects match your community needs, you can take a look at the Department of Transportation (DOT) Discretionary Grants Dashboard for relevant funding opportunities. 

In addition, the Local Infrastructure Hub (LIH) library is organized by issue area collections, and cities can browse resources for priorities like climate resilience; water infrastructure; and roads and bridges. The LIH also maintains a list of anticipated and upcoming NOFOs, which is updated quarterly.

Real life example: Say you decided pedestrian safety is your city’s top priority. You can go to the Discretionary Grants Dashboard, search “pedestrian safety” and filter for programs open to local governments. The results will provide a link to the Safe Streets and Roads for All Program, which is accepting applications through August 29, 2024. 

Think your community is too small to win?

Think again! Many small communities have successfully obtained infrastructure funding. Many BIL grant programs are specifically designed for small and rural communities. The BIL Rural Playbook can help you understand what’s available for communities like yours. The DOT Discretionary Grants Dashboard also allows you to filter your search for grants that have carved out funding for rural communities. 

This resource shows all of the communities, including many that are small and rural, that have received discretionary grant funding for public infrastructure projects. You can look for communities in your region that have won grants, or for grant winners for the type of project you want to do.

Real life example:Check out this in-depth case study of Athens, OH (population: 21,000). The city employed a regional partnership strategy to win a Charging and Fueling Infrastructure grant.

Still in the planning phase?

Look for planning and demonstration grants. You do not have to wait until you are ready for implementation to apply for federal grant funds. Many programs offer planning and/or demonstration grants to provide capacity for project design. The DOT Discretionary Grants Dashboard allows you to filter for planning under the “eligible activities” drop down menu.

Real life example: If your community needs assistance with planning for a climate-resilient transportation system, you can search the dashboard for grant programs that allow for planning and use the key word “resilience.” Your search results will return programs like the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) Program (which supports capacity-building projects to protect communities from hazards and disasters) and the Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-saving Transportation (PROTECT) Grant program (which supports surface transportation planning and construction projects related to resilience).

Need a concrete example to help you work out the details?

Look at winning projects and applications from your peers. Sometimes there is no substitute for a real world example. The Local Infrastructure Hub has a growing collection of winning applications that communities can reference when developing their own plans and applications. The BIL Launchpad also maintains a database of successful awards (project descriptions for all with some winning applications as well). 

Real life example: If your city wants to divert organic waste through a composting program, you can find examples of cities like Baltimore and New Orleans that won funding for composting projects on LIH’s Solid Waste Infrastructure for Recycling (SWIFR) Grants Winning Applications page.

Need help writing your application?

Partner up or take advantage of technical assistance. Many BIL grant programs encourage applicants to use regional strategies or to work with community based organizations (CBOs). For example, the Environmental Justice and Community Change grant program allows local governments to apply for funds, but only in partnership with local CBOs. And many winners of the Charging and Fueling Infrastructure program for electric vehicles and alternative fueling strengthened their applications through regional coordination and collaboration. In both cases, working with partners can provide additional capacity for developing and writing a grant application.

In addition to working with partners, there are many technical assistance opportunities available for communities that need help with the planning and application process. This technical assistance guide provides information about available resources by project type. Communities with populations under 150,000 can also join the Local Infrastructure Hub’s bootcamps, which feature individualized coaching sessions, office hours, and peer-to-peer learning to help communities write impactful applications.

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