Connecting state and local government leaders
The program will work with communities to assemble strong grant applications that can win some of the billions of dollars available.
Thanks to the 2021 infrastructure law, billions of dollars are available to communities to invest in clean energy, transit, affordable housing, good-paying jobs and environmental justice initiatives. But for small and rural communities, these funds are often out of reach.
Many such communities don’t have the staff or financial capacity to assemble strong grant applications. That’s where a new initiative that aims to connect governments with the capital and training necessary to kickstart their projects comes in.
The 10,000 Communities Initiative is the brainchild of the Milken Institute, a nonprofit think tank. Its goal is to help thousands of communities access infrastructure funds over the next year.
The initiative follows a similar effort by the National League of Cities. Last year, it launched a series of grant application “bootcamps” to help small and mid-sized cities have a better chance at winning federal dollars for their proposed infrastructure projects.
“The Inflation Reduction Act and bipartisan infrastructure bill allocated $11 billion to predevelopment funding,” said Dan Carol, senior director of the institute’s Center for Financial Markets, in a press release, “yet there are few frameworks or processes to ensure that these funds and other non-federal capital reach the communities who need it the most.”
To ensure it does, the 10,000 Communities Initiative has launched an online platform where cities, counties, states, nonprofit organizations and others can upload their projects to be connected to training materials, tools, partners, investors, and communities who are working on the same sort of projects and challenges.
The initiative encourages local leaders, businesses, and nonprofits to hold local and regional training events to help accelerate applications and projects. The Milken Institute also invites organizations to join the effort by investing in projects and providing services or training. Current partners include Accelerator for America, Rural Community Assistance Partnership, and the Local Initiatives Support Coalition.
Organizations and individuals can submit proposals at 10kcommunities.org.
Molly Bolan is the assistant editor for Route Fifty.