The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) released a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for up to $22 million in grants to provide technical assistance and a Call for Letters of Interest (LOI) from communities seeking support through the Thriving Communities Program (TCP). The Biden-Harris Administration launched the program in 2022 to prepare state, local, tribal and territorial governments to better access historic levels of federal funding for projects in their communities. Earlier in 2023, USDOT rewarded four Capacity Builder teams $21.15 million in funding to provide technical assistance for up to 64 communities.
The TCP provides intensive technical assistance to under-resourced and disadvantaged communities to help them identify, develop and deliver transportation and community revitalization opportunities. Those communities receive in-kind support from Capacity Builders funded through the TCP to prepare grant application materials and undertake pre-development and project delivery activities, including deploying innovative community engagement, workforce development and clean technology strategies. There is no cost for communities to receive support through the program.
“No one understands a community’s unique transportation needs better than the people who actually live there—yet many small communities don’t have the resources or capacity to secure the funding for infrastructure projects,” said USDOT Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “The Thriving Communities Program is all about empowering communities to better access federal dollars so they can realize their own visions for better infrastructure and transportation.”
For the Fiscal Year 2023 program, USDOT has added a Thriving Communities Regional Pilot Program set-aside to which states, tribes and regional planning organizations can apply. This set-aside will allow pilot program participants to provide TCP activities at a state or regional scale to communities within their jurisdictions. In 2023, USDOT anticipates funding at least four pilots at approximately $1 million each.
USDOT also anticipates funding at least three National TCP Capacity Builder Program teams, at approximately $5 million each, to collectively support approximately 50 communities that are selected and assigned by USDOT into one of three Communities of Practice based on their unique technical assistance needs. The TCP will prioritize those communities working to advance projects to improve health outcomes, reduce housing and transportation costs, preserve or expand jobs and increase reliable mobility options for disadvantaged households to better access health care, food, education and other essential destinations.
“The regional approach offered under TCP is an excellent complement to the other capacity building opportunities offered by the Build America Bureau,” said USDOT’s Build America Bureau Executive Director Morteza Farajian. “Building capacity at the local level and creating peer exchanges will help communities leverage every resource possible to advance their projects using innovative solutions.”
The LOI from communities seeking support from the program is open until Nov. 15 while the NOFO for Capacity Builders is open until Nov. 28. The NOFO will provide funding for organizations to provide technical assistance, planning and capacity building support to recipients under the TCP. USDOT says Capacity Builders are encouraged to apply as a team and may include non-profits, philanthropic organizations and other qualified technical assistance providers including academic and for-profit organizations.
Thriving Communities follows through on the commitment by the Biden-Harris Administration to ensure that all communities have an equal opportunity to benefit from federal infrastructure funding. USDOT’s technical assistance is part of the Thriving Communities Network, an interagency initiative among the Departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Energy, Commerce and Agriculture, as well as the General Services Administration, FEMA and the Environmental Protection Agency. The Biden-Harris Administration is publishing an updated guide to federal technical assistance resources and convening TCN capacity builders and philanthropic partners working to ensure all parts of country, especially under-resourced communities, have the capacity to access the historic funding provided through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act.
The TCP is one of several tools being provided by USDOT to ensure every community has an equal opportunity to access federal transportation funding and financing to deliver transformative infrastructure projects.