Understanding how funding decisions are made can improve your chances of BRIC fundingJuly 5, 2022
By Cam Davis – Vice President, GEI
As a municipal manager, you’ve got an important job: You oversee a portfolio of vital assets that are at risk from extreme weather. Whether your assets—roads, telecommunication lines, first responder services, for example—remain viable during a disaster—is something you need to worry about. Shoring up these kinds of assets before a calamity is exactly the kind of work that can be eligible for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program funding.
Understanding how projects are funded can help you move beyond eligibility toward a successful funding application. You can think of how to improve your chances of funding in these basic steps.
Step 1(a): BRIC can fund planning projects. Identify your “lifelines” (critical infrastructure that keeps your community connected in the face of disasters) and understand what you need to do to make your infrastructure more resilient. Do you have a critical asset – a “lifeline” like a medical facility, emergency command center, road, or other infrastructure that is important to keep your community going in the face of a disaster? If so, understand what it takes to keep that asset connected and operational (resilient), even when extreme weather or other challenges strike. Help is available to conduct an asset inventory or risk assessment to understand what assets need to be protected. And how.
Step 1(b): If you don’t think you need planning funds—you already know what needs to be done and have a shovel-ready project—you might be ready to seek funding for engineering, designing, and building (construction). The majority of BRIC funding to date, has supported this type of work. Securing these types of funds may improve your infrastructure’s resilience to disasters.
Step 2: Once you’ve identified your asset(s) and think you need either planning funds or construction funds, contact your state hazard mitigation officer (SHMO). For a directory of SHMOs, click here. Don’t be shy. The SHMO’s job is to take your call or email. They get paid to be responsive to you. Ask your SHMO whether they think your project can qualify for funding under the state BRIC allotment. You’ll want to first see if your project is included in a local/state hazard mitigation plan and consider submitting a letter of interest. If your project will qualify for funding through the state, ask how he or she would prefer that you submit the project for consideration. If your state’s SHMO does not believe your project will fit into a state application for BRIC funds, ask for his or her opinion about what they think is needed to improve the project’s chances under the “national competition.”
Step 3: Get help to prepare your project for submission. If your project is a good candidate for the state’s BRIC allotment, your SHMO should be able to help for a simple project, and you may need additional help from a successful grant writer for a more complex or larger project. If not, submitting under the national competition means getting an application together. You’ll want help on this from folks who know what they’re doing. And this takes time. Whether applying for state or federal funds, GEI can help. As a general rule, make sure you set aside enough time to work through your application (see separate post about “When”). In getting help, you’ll also want to do a dry run of the BRIC points system to see how your project will stack up. You can get a sense of BRIC’s technical and qualitative scoring criteria for applications here. Get help to navigate through and sharpen your proposal process to improve your project’s chances of funding.
That’ll be the subject when we talk about when in my next dispatch. Feel free to get in touch before then, though.
Revisit my previous blog posts on exploring resiliency and the BRIC program, what BRIC funds can be used for, and how you can get ahead of the BRIC timeline.