Building Types

Understanding federal funding opportunities

Several federal funding programs focus on increasing the resilience of our nation’s economy and infrastructure while others focus on recovery from manmade and natural disasters and, recently, the pandemic.

By Caroline Whitehead January 4, 2021
Funding from several state and federal agencies has enabled Alaska to create an updated set of topographic maps for the entire state. Courtesy: Dewberry

In recent years, the federal government has created an increasing number of grant programs, tax credits, and low-interest loan opportunities to assist communities and individuals. Several programs focus on increasing the resilience of our nation’s economy and infrastructure while others focus on recovery from manmade and natural disasters and, recently, the pandemic. For example:

  • Congress has passed four supplemental appropriation bills (as of now) related to COVID-19 totaling more than $2.2 trillion. Much of the funding was directed at pandemic response, providing paychecks to individuals, grants to small businesses to stay afloat, and other targeted measures to soften the economic downturn.
  • In response to flood, volcano, oil spill, and hurricane damage over the last 20 years, the federal government has distributed hundreds of billions of dollars in supplemental appropriations to fund the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Disaster Relief Funding. Three of the past six years have seen the highest federal spending on disaster relief on record. Over the last 40 years, the total cost of weather and climate disasters damages has exceeded $1.79 trillion.
  • The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 authorized $840 billion to stimulate the economy, create and save jobs, supplement safety net programs, and invest in our nation’s infrastructure over five years.

While these funds are often provided directly to state and local governments, individuals, non-governmental organizations, and private industries, a large portion of funds are administered by federal agency programs. FEMA is the primary agency focused on disaster response, for example, but many other agencies play a significant role in providing support. These include the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Small Business Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Programs guided by these agencies may be funded through the regular budget process or through additional appropriations mandated by Congress.

Tracking funding sources: Looking for the right fit

Identifying appropriate funding sources can be a complex process. Having supported the federal government and communities throughout the U.S. for decades, we have often assisted with the identification of grants and loans that align with our clients’ needs. We closely track new funding mechanisms as programs are launched. Examples of federal programs currently in place include:

  • FEMA Disaster Relief Fund programs for hazard mitigation, preparedness, and resilience
  • HHS coronavirus grants
  • HUD Community Development Block Grants (CDBG and CDBG-DR), including for newer mitigation programs
  • DOC Economic Development Administration disaster recovery and resilience grants
  • Centers for Disease Control (CDC) state and local preparedness grants
  • Federal Transit Administration Transit Infrastructure grants
  • EPA water infrastructure financing via Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA), Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF), and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) programs.

Enhancing recovery and resilience

In recent years, we have assisted a number of state and local agencies with securing federal funding that resulted in major recovery and mitigation projects. After Superstorm Sandy in 2012, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection received $230 million for HUD’s Rebuild by Design initiative after we partnered with the agency to provide a feasibility study and environmental impact statement to reduce storm surge and flood risk in the city of Hoboken and parts of Weehawken and Jersey City.

We aided the City of New Haven, Conn., with obtaining $1.35 million in hazard mitigation grant funds to repair ineffective and failing flood control structures. Another client, the Town of Jay in Santa Rosa County, Fla., received a $600,000 HUD Community Development Block Grant and a nearly $1.6 million USDA grant to replace antiquated water piping.

On a larger scale, we assisted the State of Alaska by coordinating with the U.S. Geological Survey and other federal agencies to meet its baseline topographic mapping needs over the past decade. This $66 million program included collaborative funding from several federal and state agencies. We provided the vision for how Alaska should be mapped, assistance with securing funding, and the technical and management expertise for getting the job done in a timely and cost-effective manner. The new maps meet National Map Accuracy Standards and are helping to manage natural resources and infrastructure, enable Alaskan communities to become more resilient to natural disasters, enhance economic development, and create safer conditions for pilots.

We are committed to helping our clients’ programs cross the finish line by identifying appropriate federal funding opportunities whenever possible. We closely monitor developing federal programs to analyze where our clients can benefit.


This article originally appeared on Dewberry’s websiteDewberry is a CFE Media content partner. 


Caroline Whitehead
Author Bio: Caroline Whitehead, senior research analyst, Dewberry