Philanthropic group to launch assistance portal for local admins navigating federal bureaucracy

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A joint venture announced Tuesday by a group of philanthropic organizations — together with the United States Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities (NLC) and Results for America — seeks to help small and medium-sized communities secure their share of $550 billion in funding available to local governments navigating federal bureaucracy. The digital portal will be launched on July 1.

“Six months after Pres. (Joe) Biden signed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act over $1 trillion, local governments are eligible for billions of dollars in funding to support projects ranging from transforming ports and parks to expand rural broadband and help address challenges such as climate change and racial wealth inequality,” read a statement released by the group. “The Local Infrastructure Hub brings together leading policy and innovation experts in a program that includes information, resources and technical assistance to help cities access this unique funding opportunity.”

The hub is being created with a $50 million investment led by Bloomberg Philanthropies, in collaboration with Emerson Collective, the Ford Foundation and the Kresge Foundation. The portal will be created and overseen by the United States Conference of Mayors, NLC, and Results for America, a national organization that aims to help all levels of government by leveraging data and evidence-based practices. NLC will provide technical expertise as part of this venture, “to help small and medium-sized cities develop robust data-driven applications that feature detailed project plans and include relevant policy goals.” In this way, it is an extension of an ongoing community support program that NLC currently oversees alongside the Joyce Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

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“We worked hard to get the bipartisan infrastructure act passed, and now we want to do everything we can to help cities and towns across the country take advantage of the funds,” Clarence said. Anthony, CEO and Executive Director of NLC. “Local leaders know the infrastructure needs of their communities better than anyone, and the local infrastructure hub will be key to ensuring those needs are met. This effort will directly benefit the lives of millions of people.

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Billed as a “first of its kind” initiative, the hub is intended to provide clarity and guidance to local administrators trying to understand complex application processes. To that end, it is designed to overcome two primary hurdles: “First, the hub will help local leaders navigate and understand the vast amounts of federal government information on the nearly 400 funding opportunities available. And second, it will help cities and towns develop competitive funding applications that are most likely to receive federal grants,” the statement said.

Going forward, the Conference of Mayors and Results for America will host a series of webinars this summer to guide administrators through the process, helping them identify grant opportunities that match the needs of their community. They will also focus on education about application criteria and deadlines, understanding federal bureaucracy, and learning about infrastructure innovations and emerging best practices.

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Other partners who will join in the effort to provide expertise and guidance in the future include the Network of Urban Sustainability Managers, the National Association of Urban Transportation Officials, the Association of African- Americans and the National Urban League. At its core, the joint initiative recognizes the need to equip local administrators with the knowledge and expertise to navigate federal government bureaucracy.

“Cities are on the front lines of some of the most pressing challenges facing families across the country – challenges that the bipartisan Infrastructure Act will allow mayors to better address by upgrading our roads and bridges, improving our energy and water infrastructure, developing clean energy technologies and providing Americans with broadband,” said Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director of the United States Conference of Mayors. “The Local Infrastructure Hub will help mayors successfully access and leverage these critical resources.”

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