Resources to Support Equitable Implementation of Federal Funds

Resources to support community-based organizations (CBO) and grassroots organizations in applying for federal funds and working with local governments and municipal entities to put policies and plans in place to equitably implement federal resources.

Over the next four years, the federal government will invest more than $3 trillion in communities across the country. This includes the $450 billion that is allocated annually through the appropriations process across the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Department of Transportation (DOT), and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It also includes the Inflation Reduction Act, Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), Justice40 Initiative, and the $41 billion remaining in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). While that spending level will certainly make an impact, it does not equate to equitable distribution and control of resources in low-income communities and communities of color, and it is often not paired with the level of protection needed to safeguard against gentrification, environmental injustices, and displacement from inequitable investments in housing, transit, climate resilience, and parks and open spaces.

While the administration has made a more intentional effort to address these impacts on communities of color (e.g., the Justice40 Initiative and the racial equity executive order), it is imperative that Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian-American and Pacific Islander-led and centered organizations be recipients of this funding to create justice and equity-based transformation across communities. This includes increased pathways to be recipients of technical assistance; direct providers of capacity and assistance to communities; decision-makers with vested and meaningful roles alongside eligible entities to influence the way federal, state, and local agencies implement funds; and building networks of intermediaries, frontline and community-based-organizations aligned to participate in different roles (i.e. lead applicants, legal advisors, fiscal sponsors, conveners, organizers, policy analysts etc.) to create a different path forward.

To that end, the Strong, Prosperous, and Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC) created a few documents to support community-based organizations (CBO) and grassroots organizations in applying for federal funds and working with local governments and municipal entities to put policies and plans in place to equitably implement federal resources.

Getting to equitable transformation

SPARCC has distilled what we are learning from cities, counties, and states on how they have prioritized the deployment of $350 billion in Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds that were part of the $1.9 trillion ARPA that was passed by Congress in March of 2021. The report examines what worked and what did not work in the allocation and disbursement of these funds, and more importantly, how we can better serve our communities through funding in the future. Read the full report.

Federal grant funding checklist: How to apply for federal discretionary grants

Applying for funding from the federal government can be a difficult task. While the funds are ultimately meant to help a community address local needs, the process of accessing the funds and ensuring they are implemented in a manner consistent with community priorities can be onerous and time-consuming. SPARCC developed a checklist intended to support organizations applying for discretionary funding, which are often awarded on a competitive merit-based process from the federal, state, or local government. This checklist does not cover the process of influencing how funds are allocated but can be used for influencing application processes where a community organization is not the applicant. We also developed a blog in Spanish that highlights information in the checklist. Download the checklist.

Increasing federal funding for community-based organizations

Community-based organizations face many barriers when applying for federal funds. In collaboration with Enterprise Advisors, this document outlines key strategies and takeaways to improve processes involving the deployment of federal resources directly to CBOs that are committed to stabilizing neighborhoods, as well as the design of programs that involve them. Read the full report.

For additional resources and policy recommendations, see SPARCC’s Our Power: Pathways to Community Prosperity, which articulates policy goals for a restorative and regenerative economy, housing justice, equitable transit-oriented development, and parks, urban, and open spaces equity. Also see our panel on Setting the Course for Equitable Implementation of Federal Resources.

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