Staff, resources help local governments win federal grants, study shows

May 16, 2024

On average, cities with greater administrative capacity were awarded more federal infrastructure funding than those with less capacity, according to research by the Urban Institute (UI). Because grant applications for federal awards are time consuming and differ for each program, small communities face an uneven burden, the study shows.

The study looked at data from U.S. counties with more than 50,000 residents, calculating the staff and payroll per capita of all the governments in those counties. UI determined how much competitive infrastructure funding they received in FY22 from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Continuum of Care program.

Grants go to counties with greater staffing numbers and budget, UI found. When looking at different factors that affect grant funding, UI could also predict communities were 10.7% more likely to receive government funds with an additional $100 per capita for the total payroll.

UI suggests that the federal government simplify the application process, conduct targeted outreach and provide technical assistance to make grant awards more accessible to smaller and historically underserved communities.

In the most recent episode of “The Connection: Partnering Public and Private Entities,” a companion podcast of Government Market News, cohosts Mary Scott Nabers and Marshall Macomber discuss best practices for securing government funding for any community. With over $1 trillion allocated for federal spending this year, there is significant grant funding on the line.

“We may never have another funding abundance like this anytime in the next two decades,” Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc., said on Episode 10. “It is sitting there, and cities and counties and school districts and universities need this funding, and the competition has not been that great.”

Nabers and Macomber, founder and President of ThinkP3, address solutions on an individual level. The most important thing for communities to do is call their local department offices, the two say.

“That’s the type of kind of talking communication that’s often necessary to get those grants,” Macomber said. “And too often, communities simply don’t think to apply because they don’t know where to start.”

To learn more about best practices for securing federal grant funding, listen to Episode 10 of The Connection.

Gracie Warhurst

Gracie Warhurst has joined Strategic Partnerships, Inc. as a writer and digital content creator for the new Government Market News portal. With a rich background in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin, Warhurst has experience as editor-in-chief of a literary magazine, assistant web editor, and project manager for an AI journalism project. She also contributed as a reporter during the development of SPI's news portal. Warhurst graduated summa cum laude in December 2023 with a Bachelor's in Journalism and a certificate in creative writing, making her a valuable asset to the SPI team.

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