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How Appalachian Communities Can Get Support for Federal Climate Infrastructure Funds

By June 30, 2023September 17th, 2023No Comments
Natalia Rudiak is Director of Special Projects for ReImagine Appalachia

By Natalia Rudiak

There are many opportunities for grants and other funding to underserved places, but oftentimes, low-resourced and rural communities in Appalachia are left behind. In light of the funds in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act, there have been various capacity building efforts for coal-country Appalachia communities to leverage federal climate infrastructure funds. We’ve compiled a list of some of the opportunities available to Appalachia below, including those programs with open applications for assistance, ongoing federal assistance, and programs whose guidelines have yet to be determined. Many of these programs for individuals and communities open applications have deadlines so please take note of those dates that we highlighted in orange.

Open Applications For Communities and Individuals (in alphabetical order – please check closely for dates): 

U.S. Conference of Mayors and Local Infrastructure Hub – Local Government Bootcamps

The U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Local Infrastructure Hub are hosting boot camps to help small and mid-sized local governments take advantage of the grant opportunities available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. 

Over the next two years, there will be at least 30 bootcamps, each tied to a specific category of funding available as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. There is no cost for cities selected to participate in the bootcamps. 

A sample of bootcamp offerings include:

1. Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program ($550 million): Helps communities implement strategies to reduce fossil fuel emissions; implement renewable energy projects; and improve energy efficiency in the transportation, building, and other appropriate sectors. 

2. Charging and Fueling Infrastructure Grants ($2.5 billion): 

Helps communities address electric vehicle (EV) charging needs for a growing market of passenger vehicles and light duty trucks. Under the community charging program, $1.25 billion will be available for installing EV charging and alternative fuel in locations like public roads, schools, parks, and in publicly accessible parking facilities. These grants will prioritize rural areas, low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, and communities with low ratios of private parking or high ratios of multi unit dwellings.

3. Safe Streets and Roads for All ($5 billion): 

Action Planning: Hundreds of action planning grants ranging from $200,000 to $5 million will be available for developing or updating a comprehensive safety action plan to prevent roadway deaths and serious injuries. This grant is appropriate for communities of all sizes who can apply independently or with other local governments or their Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Implementation: Up to 100 implementation grants ranging from $3 million to $30 million will be available for carrying out projects and strategies identified in an “action plan” to prevent roadway deaths and serious injuries.

4. Brownfields ($1.5 billion): 

Brownfields grant bootcamp will focus on communities seeking site assessment, cleanup, or multipurpose grants for brownfield sites – sites with known or possible contamination from prior use. Multipurpose grants provide funding for communities to carry out a range of eligible assessment and cleanup activities and allow recipients significant flexibility.

What to Expect?

Towns and cities participating in these programs will receive support from the National League of Cities to develop a robust federal grant application, including access to templates, example submissions, and other resources that make for a well-composed application. The program provides a range of support, including access to subject matter experts, individualized coaching sessions, office hours, and peer-to-peer learning where they can engage with a community of like-minded applicants aiming for infrastructure progress. 

The bootcamps, which require between 2-10 hours of active participation each month, will last approximately 3-4 months. 

Participants will include mayors and municipal staff with job functions focused on finance, community engagement, and other relevant disciplines such as administrative and advisory affairs. A major emphasis will also be placed on helping communities understand federal priorities, such as equity and sustainability, and then incorporate these and other desired outcomes into submissions.

By the conclusion of the bootcamp, cities will be prepared to submit robust applications for federal funding opportunities in these programs.

Registration for this round of Bootcamps is now closed, but a new set of bootcamps will launch in the spring. Please sign up through this link to receive news about the next phase of bootcamps. In the meantime, the US Conference of Mayors is encouraging local officials to utilize the resources and events provided by the Local Infrastructure Hub throughout their website which you can find here.

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Partners Network (RPN)

The USDA announced 394 million dollars in funding for Rural Partner Network (RPN) communities. On their website you can browse funding opportunities, technical assistance, and other programs supporting a broad range of rural community and economic development activities. Individuals and residents, including families, homeowners, seniors, veterans, small businesses, agricultural producers, and others can also find resources.

The Rural Partners Network is working on the ground in selected RPN Community Networks, including southern West Virginia and the Kentucky Highlands, to help navigate and access programs from across the federal government and other providers, secure technical assistance, and develop local capacity. We are excited about the work they are doing to help residents and economic development practitioners build the futures they envision for the places they call home. 

Here is an example of a success story– you can also learn more about ways to get involved on their website here.

The EPA has selected 17 Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Centers (EJ TCTACs) in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy that will receive $177 million to help underserved and overburdened communities across the country. Each of the technical assistance centers will receive at least $10 million to remove barriers and improve accessibility for communities with environmental justice concerns. With this critical investment, these centers will provide training and other assistance to build capacity for navigating federal grant application systems, writing strong grant proposals, and effectively managing grant funding. 

In addition, these centers will provide guidance on community engagement, meeting facilitation, and translation and interpretation services for limited English-speaking participants, thus removing barriers and improving accessibility for communities with environmental justice concerns. Each of the technical assistance centers will also create and manage communication channels to ensure all communities have direct access to resources and information.

The Technical Assistance Centers have now been announced and the following are part of our four-state region. You can find more information about the Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Centers Program here.  

National Wildlife Federation (University of Maryland’s (UMD) Center for Community Engagement, Environmental Justice and Health (CEEJH) and Environmental Finance Center (EFC), Morgan State University, West Virginia State University, Centro De Apoyo Familiar, South Baltimore Community Land Trust, Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative, Overbrook Education Center, Sussex Health & Environment, Network/Sentinels of Eastern Shore Health)The National Wildlife Federation Technical Assistance Center covers Pennsylvania and West Virginia. 

Research Triangle Institute (RTI International) (North Carolina Central University (academic/Minority-serving Institution [MSI]), University of Memphis (academic), University of South Carolina (academic), University of Georgia (academic), Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (academic/MSI), Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University (academic/MSI), University of Kentucky (academic), Jackson State University (academic/MSI), Environmental Protection Network (non-profit)). The Research Triangle Institute Technical Assistance Center covers Kentucky.

Blacks in Green (BIG) (The Midwest Tribal Energy Resources Association (MTERA), Black Environmental Leaders (BEL), Environmental Health Watch (EHW), The School of Public Health, University of Illinois, Chicago, The Smart Energy Design Center, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (SEDAC)) The Blacks in Green (BIG) Technical Assistance Center covers Ohio.

In early November 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the selection of 29 Environmental Finance Centers (EFCs) that will help communities across the country access federal funding for infrastructure and greenhouse gas reduction projects that improve public health and environmental protection. The EFCs will deliver targeted technical assistance to local governments, states, Tribes, and non-governmental organizations to protect public health, safeguard the environment, and advance environmental justice. Thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the selected EFCs will help underserved communities that have historically struggled to access federal funding receive the support they need to access resources for water infrastructure improvements.

EPA will award up to $150 million in grants to EFCs over the next five years, once all legal and administrative requirements are satisfied. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $98 million of the total investment through EPA’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF), with the remainder of funds coming from EPA appropriations.

The newly selected EFCs will work to strengthen communities through projects focused on drinking water, wastewater, stormwater, solid waste, clean air, greenhouse gas reduction, and toxic substances—and a focus of their work will be supporting overburdened and underserved communities. EPA will be engaging with the selected grantees to ensure communities in need receive this critical technical assistance

You can read more information on how to engage with these centers at this link.

EPA Region + Assistance Center:

3: Low Impact Development Center Inc. [Pennsylvania, West Virginia]

4: Urban Sustainability Directors Network [Kentucky]

5: Michigan Technological University [Ohio]

Many energy communities need help identifying, applying, and managing financial assistance that could diversify and revitalize their economies. These communities often also struggle to coordinate with other organizations in their region to pursue larger opportunities that typically involve collaborative applications. In these instances, technical assistance can begin to fill the gaps.

Technical Assistance is the process of providing targeted support usually in the form of consulting and advice rather than direct financial awards to a community or organization with a development need. When done well, Technical Assistance delivers no-cost, targeted support to address unique challenges. It can support capacity-building, strategic community planning, economic development efforts, and so much more.”

The IWG has launched a webpage with critical technical assistance opportunities and resources for energy communities. This includes funding, services (help from real people), and educational resources. Many deadlines are coming up so please bookmark and check their site for ongoing opportunities. 

The IWG also offers “Rapid Response Teams” (RRTs) which work within energy communities at the time of a past or approaching fossil fuel facility closure to address worker and community needs using existing federal resources. RRT locations have been chosen by identifying the regions with the highest loss of coal assets and with inadequate financial and local community resources to address those losses. If your community or region is interested in being considered for an RRT, please contact

Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services: Community Democracy Program

Fair Shake’s Community Democracy Program supports environmental justice communities in the Ohio River Valley to harness their strengths and resources to drive what they want for their air, water, and places in ways that support their health, happiness, and wellbeing. At the same time, we are here for local decision-makers, municipalities, and county governments to reimagine how they engage with their constituents in decision-making processes, and to provide tools and support to help reach the community’s vision. Please contact Meagan Niebler at for more information.

Just Transition Fund: Federal Access Center

Just Transition Fund (JTF), the only national philanthropic initiative focused solely on coal community economic transition, has launched Federal Access Center, a one-stop resource hub that is building build on JTF’s track record of helping coal communities secure public funding for local economic solutions. The Center will support community organizations seeking federal grants to advance projects related to economic and workforce development, economic diversification, and broadband access and affordability. 

The Federal Access Center expands JTF’s existing grantmaking and technical assistance programs that help coal communities access federal funds by assisting them with competitive, complex funding applications. The Center offers direct grants to support a range of costs associated with developing applications, including subcontracting grant writers and other expert capacity, organizing community partnerships, and meeting matching funds requirements. The Center also provides technical assistance from the JTF’s team of experts to help organizations identify funding programs, understand application requirements, build relationships with agency contacts, and see proposals through the final submission stage.  They also share lessons learned back with agencies about barriers for communities applying to federal funds.

In addition, the Center offers a limited number of grants and technical assistance for early-stage planning projects that have a long-term goal of leveraging federal funding. 

Here are the specifics for technical assistance JTF offers:

Application-Ready Support

Grants up to $100,000 to support a range of costs associated with developing federal applications, including grant writers and matching funds; support will include technical assistance from experts who can review proposals before submission, provide guidance on program requirements, and more. The grants are provided on a rolling basis. Interested in help from the Just Transition Fund’s Federal Access Center? Please fill out this form so that they can understand your needs and how JTF’s services might support you. Their team will follow up with you as soon as possible.

The JTF has made changes to their Federal Access Center including:

Expanding eligibility to include local governments, in addition to community-based nonprofit organizations. We recognize that not only are local governments essential drivers of and partners in community economic development, but they are often under-resourced and similarly face significant barriers to accessing federal funding.

Helping communities access federal loan programs, in addition to federal grant programs. We’re expanding our services in this way in response to the billions of dollars now available through new loan guarantee programs at the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Increasing the range of grant amounts, in proportion to the amount of federal funding applied for. We will now make grants of between $15,000 to $100,000 to cover expenses associated with developing federal applications, such as matching fund requirements and grant writing expenses.

Early-Stage Broadband Capacity Building Support

Limited amounts of grants and technical assistance for early-stage planning projects with the long-term goal of accessing federal funds. Grants of up to $150,000 and technical assistance to help organizations access public funds to expand broadband access. For more information, please visit the JTF Federal Access Center here.

National Association of Counties (NACo): Building Resilience in Coal Communities (BRECC)


The BRECC National Network is an open forum and peer network connecting coal community leaders representing local governments, regional organizations, community nonprofits, education and workforce providers, utilities, private business and other local stakeholders. 

The BRECC National Network will convene bi-monthly for virtual learning sessions featuring issue-specific presentations, peer breakout discussions, community case examples, and critical funding and resources available to coal communities.

You can sign up for the BRECC national network and their virtual learning session here.

Power a Clean Future Ohio works to create a clean future for Ohio by empowering local leaders with tools and resources to create carbon reduction plans and implement them in ways that are achievable, measurable, equitable, and economical.

Is your community in search of potential funding sources? Start with the PCFO Infrastructure Grant Snapshots to find the right funding opportunity.

Looking for more information on grant applications and funding opportunities? Find webinar notes from past events hosted by the White House and other federal agencies to learn more about how the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law can benefit your community.

Learn more and add your community to the mix and access the resources above by going to their website here.

READY Appalachia from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)

READY Appalachia is the Appalachian Regional Commission’s new community capacity-building initiative offering flexible funding to organizations in four key economic development pillars: nonprofits, community foundations, local governments, and Local Development Districts, and free training to the Appalachians that work for them.

Participants in each READY Appalachia learning track access 10 weeks of cohort-based learning, skill development, and grant opportunities to increase their capacity to solve pressing issues and create positive economic change. There are various learning tracks for different types of leaders, so please click on this link to see what programs may apply to you, and when the deadlines are.

READY Nonprofits helps nonprofit executives and board members increase their capacity in fundraising, financial management, board development, staff and volunteer recruitment and retention, marketing, and more. The 2022-2023 class has already been selected and underway, but you can read more about the program for future reference here.

READY LDDs is offering up to $100,000 for Appalachia’s Local Development Districts to hire staff and more effectively help clients, including local governments and nonprofits, access and manage unprecedented amounts of federal funding. You can find a list of all LDDs in Appalachia here.  The Development District Association of Appalachia (DDAA) is the entity that provides ongoing technical assistance, peer learning, and other support to the Region’s LDDs.

The WV Community Hub currently runs 6 community coaching programs — all with differing timelines. Amanda Workman, the Hub’s Director of Community Engagement or Stacy Thomas, the Community Coaching Programs Coordinator can help inform which capacity-coaching program is appropriate according to your needs. Those programs range from introductory (e.g. the Blueprint) to those that require long-term community buy-in and consensus. Each of those, with relevant applications and timelines, are on their websites under “How We Work.”

–Accelerate WV

–Blueprint Communities

–Cultivate West Virginia

–Downtown Appalachia: Revitalizing Recreational Economies (DARRE)

–Hub Communities of Achievement (HubCAP)