USDOT awards $23.6 million in grants through Thriving Communities Program

April 16, 2024
The funding will go towards three national and six regional Thriving Communities Capacity Builders to help 112 communities in the U.S. access federal funding and resources provided by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) is awarding $23.6 million in grants to three national and six regional Thriving Communities Capacity Builders through the Thriving Communities Program (TCP) to help 112 communities in the U.S. access federal funding and resources provided by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.  

The program provides two years of no-cost, intensive technical assistance to under-resourced and disadvantaged communities to help them identify, develop and deliver transportation projects to achieve locally-driven economic development, health, environment, mobility and access goals. Three national TCP teams will provide support to 52 communities located across the United States and selected by USDOT. In addition, six regional TCP teams were selected to support 60 communities that were identified in their states or regions.  

According to USDOT, of the 64 communities selected in 2023, 37 have now won federal funding for their communities through USDOT discretionary grant programs such as Safe Streets and Roads for All, Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity and the Rural and Tribal Assistance Pilot Program.    

"President Biden’s infrastructure law has created a once-in-a-generation opportunity through which communities are reimagining and delivering safe, reliable transportation,” said USDOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Our department is proud to help another 112 under-resourced communities with hands-on assistance to secure federal infrastructure funding and then deliver those projects well.”    

USDOT received 229 Letters of Interest to receive technical assistance from this year’s National Thriving Communities program. The TCP prioritized the selection of disadvantaged and under-resourced communities that are working to advance transportation projects to improve health and safety outcomes, reduce housing and transportation cost burdens, preserve or expand job opportunities and increase reliable mobility options to better access health care, food, education and other essential destinations. According to the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool, of the 52 communities selected for the National program, 87 percent are in disadvantaged census tracts and more than half of communities selected have either never applied for a USDOT grant before or had applied, but were unsuccessful.  

“Under President Biden, USDOT has undertaken an unprecedented effort to help build local capacity to access federal resources that improve their quality of life and build a stronger economic future,” said USDOT Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy Christopher Coes.   

“The Thriving Communities participants have proven that this technical assistance model can tremendously impact their success rate, not only in competing for federal grants, but also in better utilizing innovative solutions to deliver their projects more efficiently and cost-effectively,” said Build America Bureau Executive Director Morteza Farajian.  

TCP selected three new National TCP Capacity Builders, who will each receive $4.25 to $5 million, to collectively support communities assigned by USDOT into one of three "Communities of Practice" based on their common technical assistance needs. Capacity builders will provide project-level technical assistance and planning support on issues such as preparing grant application materials, undertaking pre-development and project delivery activities, designing and deploying more inclusive community engagement strategies and fostering small business and workforce development. 

The Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 National TCP Capacity Builders are:  

  • Rural Community Assistance Partnership Incorporated, in partnership with Community Engineering Corps, Communities Unlimited, Great Lakes Community Action Partnership, Midwest Assistance Program, National Association of Development Organizations, RCAP Solutions and Rural Community Assistance Corporation. - awarded $4.3 million to support 16 Main Street Communities.  
  • Abt Associates Inc., in partnership with EPR, P.C., Equitable Cities, Morgan State University, Nelson\Nygaard, Safe Routes Partnership and Smart Growth America.  - awarded $5 million to support 20 Complete Neighborhoods Communities.  
  • Conference of Minority Transportation Officials, in partnership with AECOM, Intelligent Transportation Society of America, Accelerator for America, Two Degrees, ReConnect Rondo and MWDBE Training Academy, Inc. - awarded $4.3 million to support 16 Networked Communities.   

The Communities of Practice are:   

  • Main Streets – Focused on Tribal, rural and small-town communities and the interconnected transportation, community and economic development issues they face.  
  • Complete Neighborhoods – Focused on urban and suburban communities located within Metropolitan Planning Organization planning areas working to better advance complete streets policies and coordinate transportation with land use, housing and economic development.  
  • Networked Communities – Focused on communities located near ports, airports, freight and rail facilities to address mobility, access, housing, environmental justice and economic issues.  

New for FY 2023, USDOT added a TCP Regional Pilot Program, which allows participants to provide TCP activities to communities within their jurisdictions at a state or regional scale. USDOT funded six pilots at approximately $1-2 million each that collectively are supporting 60 communities in these states and regions:   

  1. Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (Alaska, $2 million)- Partnering with Alaska Municipal League to support 18 communities, four of which are Tribes: Aleknagik, Bristol Bay Borough, Chevak, Chignik Lagoon, Copper Valley, Cordova, Deltana, Eklutna, Fort Yukon, Gustavus, Iliamna, Lake and Peninsula Borough, Manokotak, Metlakatla, Nunapitchuk, Petersburg, Wrangell and Yakutat.  
  2. State of Colorado Governor’s Office of Economic Recovery (Colorado, $2 million)- Partnering with Southeast Colorado Enterprise Development to support six counties in its Southeast Transportation Planning Region: Baca, Bent, Crowley, Kiowa, Otero and Prowers Counties.  
  3. Louisiana Division of Administration Planning Office (Louisiana, $1.9 million)- Partnering with Center for Planning Excellence, Louisiana Main Street, Division of Historic Preservation; Grey Engineering, LLC, Place + Main Advisors, LLC, Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development and Louisiana Economic Development to support six communities: Franklin, Homer, New Roads, Opelousas, St. Martinville and Winnsboro.  
  4. Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission (New Hampshire/Vermont, $1.2 million)- Partnering with Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Commission to support 14 communities: Acworth, Charlestown, Enfield, Goshen, Lebanon, Lempster, Orford and Plainfield in New Hampshire and Bethel, Granville, Hancock, Hartford, Hartland and Royalton in Vermont.  
  5. New York State Department of Transportation (New York, $1 million)- Partnering with New York State Department of State and ICF Incorporated to support five communities: The Town and Village of Alfred, the Village of Dolgeville, the Village of Margaretville, the Town and Village of Massena and Wyoming County.  
  6. Fayette-Raleigh Metropolitan Planning Organization (West Virginia, $2 million)- Partnering with Regional Planning & Development Councils for Regions I, IV, & VII, West Virginia University, Brad & Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative and the Mon Forest Towns Partnership to support 11 “Appalachian Heartland” communities.  

More information on the TCP can be found on USDOT’s website.