On November 15, 2021, President Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, now more commonly known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This legislation, at the time, represented the largest investment in climate and clean energy via infrastructure projects. As you all know, less than a year later we saw the Inflation Reduction Act double down on the investment in climate and clean energy to further invest in communities. SSDN is celebrating this anniversary through this letter, a special SSDN Federal Funding biweekly brief (click here to get them to your inbox), and a dedicated SSDN Green Minds Podcast episode (listen here) in order to celebrate the achievements of Southeast communities over these past two years - as well as how much potential there is for communities to continue benefiting in the future.
How is this Federal Funding Impacting the Southeast?
These past two years have seen billions of dollars distributed to communities across the country. SSDN is excited to see many of the communities we work with receive funding for their sustainability, resilience and equity initiatives. We’ve highlighted a few of our member communities’ federal funding achievements below but encourage you to learn more about how your community is benefiting from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law through viewing the Administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Dashboard.
How Have SSDN Members Benefited from BIL and IRA Awards?
SSDN’s 112 local and tribal government members have benefitted from the BIL and IRA in the following ways.
SSDN Members have received:
- 16 awards totaling $175M from DOT’s Rebuilding American Infrastructure for Sustainability and Equity
- 84 direct allocation awards totaling $23M from DOE’s Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant
- 27 awards totaling over $63M from the USDA Urban and Community Forestry Program
- 2 awards totaling $7.2M from EPA’s Solid Waste Infrastructure Financing and Resiliency Grant
- 6 awards totaling approximately $6M in EPA’s Environmental Justice Government to Government grant
This aggregated overview doesn’t do justice to the transformative nature of these projects or the implications of these funding opportunities for communities. These funds will go towards making stronger, safer, more sustainable and equitable communities in the Southeast and further build out the community of practice and best practices relevant to Southeastern local governments. To learn more about just a few of the hundreds of awards in the Southeast, view the following press releases and news articles about our members projects:
- Durham County, NC Awarded $1.5 Million Grant for Energy Efficiency Upgrades in Low-income Homes in Durham, Orange, and Granville Counties
- Richmond, VA Awarded $6 Million from USDA for Urban Forestry Efforts
- Palm Beach County, FL Awarded $1M from the US Environmental Protection Agency to Expand Tree Canopy in Glades Communities
- Little Rock, AR Selected for Pioneering Urban Heat Mapping Campaign: A First For Arkansas
- Albemarle County, VA Getting Funding Through EPA Environmental Justice Program
- Birmingham, AL Will Study Air Pollution With $1 Million EPA Grant
- $4 million in federal money will bolster Knoxville's tree cover. Here's where
SSDN is excited to help support these and other members across the Southeast in accessing federal funding for sustainability and equity. Just as this investment has helped foster growth for Sustainability programs in the Southeast, so too has SSDN’s Federal programming grown. SSDN’s Federal Programs currently includes member-focused support via the Southeast Sustainable Recovery Center, Multimedia and water-focused support to all communities in the Southeast via EPA’s Multimedia Environmental Finance Center, and most recently, direct grant-writing and technical assistance via the Local Infrastructure Hub.
The Southeast Sustainability Directors Network has had the pleasure of expanding our federal programs and support for local communities in accessing federal resources. Two years ago, SSDN launched member-focused support for local governments with the goal of increasing access to federal funding and resources to advance sustainability and equity. Building on SSDN’s peer-to-peer networking model, this program focused on identifying upcoming federal funding opportunities and sharing local government experiences and insight into accessing those federal assistance opportunities.
These past two years have brought tremendous growth and a recognition that deeper assistance and support is necessary to advance local sustainability and equity efforts in the Southeast. Routinely we would hear from communities that the impediment to applying was the capacity and experience required to draft an effective and successful grant application. SSDN is fortunate to share with you how communities across the Southeast, regardless of membership, can help meet the moment and access the unprecedented federal funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act.
In July 2023, the Southeast Sustainability Directors Network launched the Local Infrastructure Hub (LIH) program as part of an effort to provide deeper support to communities needing additional capacity to access federal funding. The LIH program provides direct support and technical assistance (TA) to local governments and community-based organizations (CBOs) to access federal funding available through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The intent of LIH is to help communities with initiatives that both address climate impacts and promote racial wealth equity. SSDN is leading this program for states in the southeastern US (AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, TX, and VA) and works closely with partner organization, Elevate Energy, leading the effort in the Midwest.
SSDN brought on Nick Deffley, former Sustainability Director for the City of Savannah, GA to direct the program. Nick’s municipal experience, working with communities to access federal funding to support just and equitable climate initiatives, provides valuable insight to communities developing their own strategies to access federal funding. Nick works with a Technical Assistance Bench of subject matter experts from local, regional, and national organizations to support communities in their federal funding and capacity building efforts. In the last 3 months, the LIH program has supported 6 CBOs and more than 8 local governments to build capacity and develop competitive federal funding applications. To learn more, download SSDN’s LIH One-Pager, or reach out to Nick at firstname.lastname@example.org.