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Debunking FEMA BRIC Program Myths: Separating Fact From Fiction

Updated: Jul 12, 2023

Are you confused about FEMA's BRIC program and want to separate fact from fiction? In this blog, we will debunk common myths surrounding FEMA's BRIC (Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities) program. From understanding the importance of dispelling these myths to exploring what the "identified for further review" category really means, we've got you covered. We will also delve into key factors to consider when applying for FEMA grants, demystify the benefit-cost analysis software, and provide examples of situations where modifying reference tables is necessary. Additionally, we'll explain how experienced FEMA grant writers adjust tables for specific projects and shed light on the role of the benefit-cost ratio in the selection process. Get ready to gain a comprehensive understanding of FEMA's BRIC program and maximize your chances of securing funding.

FEMA's BRIC grant program

But first, what are the most common myths?

  • Myth #1: If a project is identified for further review, it will definitely receive funding.

  • Myth #2: FEMA selects sub-applications solely based on a benefit-cost ratio.

  • Myth #3: FEMA's benefit-cost analysis software doesn't work.

Join Shauna Urlacher on this episode of UrbanHydro as she tackles the myths surrounding FEMA's BRIC Program. The episode begins by dispelling three common misconceptions about the program, such as the belief that being identified for further review guarantees funding. Listeners will learn about the importance of using accurate data and being honest in grant applications, as well as the need for a deep understanding of FEMA's software calculations and the potential adjustment of reference tables. Another myth addressed is the misconception that FEMA solely selects sub-applications based on the benefit-cost ratio (BCR). The eligibility threshold is a BCR of 1.0, and projects are scored in six other categories to determine their overall percentile rank. The episode also addresses the idea that preliminary approval does not guarantee grant awards and outlines the thorough request for information process. Lastly, the episode highlights that projects aligned with FEMA's goals usually produce favorable benefit-cost ratios if the data used is accurate. Tune in for valuable insights on successful grant sub-applications.

00:01:30 Projects aren't guaranteed, FEMA software works.

00:03:14 Higher BCR doesn't guarantee better project performance.

Why is it important to understand the myths surrounding FEMA's BRIC program?

It's not so long ago that most believed FEMA only provided disaster relief–an important reminder that programs like BRIC exist to avoid natural disaster issues in the United States. To provide you with the right information and improve your chances of success, it's important to understand some misconceptions about FEMA's BRIC program. By clearing up these myths, you can avoid having unrealistic expectations and approach the application process with accurate information. This way, you–and the community you represent and love–won't be disappointed by false beliefs about guaranteed funding or overlook the importance of meeting eligibility requirements. Knowing the truth about these myths will help you plan better and increase your chances of success.

understanding how FEMA selects for BRIC funding

How does the "identified for further review" category impact a project's chances of receiving funding?

When a mitigation project is categorized as "identified for further review," it indicates that it has shown promise but needs additional evaluation before being selected for funding. While this designation is a positive indication, it does not guarantee that the project will receive funding. During the review process, FEMA examines the project's feasibility, assesses its documentation, and ensures that it aligns with its goals before putting dollars on the line. Therefore, while being identified for further review is a significant step forward, and certainly better than not being accepted at all, it does not provide an absolute assurance of funding.

What are some key factors to consider when applying for FEMA grants regarding the best available data?

When applying for FEMA grants the best available data must be used. Applicants must review the accuracy of their data, as FEMA bases federal government funding decisions on this information. Using outdated or incorrect data may lead to disqualification. Therefore, it is crucial to thoroughly research, analyze, and present data that corresponds to FEMA's standards and requirements.

What are the common misconceptions about FEMA's benefit-cost analysis software and how does it actually work?

FEMA's benefit-cost ratio

There is a common misconception that FEMA's benefit-cost analysis software only works with traditional mitigation projects like building elevations and demolitions. However, this is not the case. The software is quite flexible and can evaluate a wide range of flood mitigation projects. It evaluates both costs and benefits, including non-monetary factors such as social and environmental impacts.

When applying for FEMA grants, applicants must use the best available data and make sure that the data entered is correctly entered into the software. Any data adjustments should be carefully documented. It is important to be upfront and honest in your sub-application and explain how the data entered into the benefit-cost analysis was calculated, showing all backup calculations. If values entered into the benefit-cost analysis are not properly documented, they cannot be used.

Can you give examples of situations where modifying reference tables for calculations is necessary?

Modifying reference tables for calculations is necessary when specific projects require adjustments due to their unique characteristics. Experienced FEMA Grant writers understand how to customize these tables, based on the specific project being analyzed. For instance, if the standard tables in the software will over or under-estimate the flood risk, a knowledgeable grant writer may modify the tables to accurately reflect the risk.

How do experienced FEMA Grant writers know when and how to adjust tables for specific projects?

Experienced FEMA grant writers possess a deep understanding of the BRIC program and FEMA's guidelines and requirements. They understand the project and how the calculations the software is performing, enabling them to identify when tables need to be modified. They also know how to properly document these changes for FEMA.

knowing how to write a FEMA grant that gets selected

What role does the benefit-cost ratio (BCR) play in the selection process for FEMA grants?

The benefit-cost ratio is a threshold criterion used by FEMA to assess the viability of a project. The BCR compares the benefits of a project, like reduced flood risk, to its costs. While exceeding a threshold BCR of 1.0 is necessary for eligibility, it is not the sole determinant of success. Once projects that do not meet the eligibility criteria are removed from the pool of sub-applications, projects with higher BCRs are not prioritized over those with lower ratios. Then, projects are scored across multiple categories to determine their Sub-application Qualitative Performance, which FEMA uses to rank sub-applications in the competitive program. These scores are shared with the sub-applicant in a Qualitative Review Memo as a percentile rank.

What are the threshold criteria that a project must meet to be eligible for FEMA funding?

To be eligible for FEMA funding, projects must meet specific criteria. The primary requirement is to exceed a Benefit-Cost Ratio (BCR) of 1.0, indicating that the project benefits will exceed the costs. Additionally, the projects must align with FEMA's goals to reduce the risk of a natural hazard, such as flood risk. It is also essential for applicants to provide documentation that meets FEMA's guidelines and sufficiently supports their sub-application. By meeting these criteria, projects can increase their chances of receiving FEMA funding for disaster mitigation and resilience efforts.

What is the significance of the sub-application performance ranking and how does it affect the likelihood of receiving funding?

The significance of the sub-application performance ranking cannot be overstated regarding the likelihood of receiving funding through FEMA's BRIC program. This ranking is a crucial measure of the sub-application effectiveness, gauging how well projects align with the BRIC program's goals and objectives. By considering factors such as risk reduction and resiliency effectiveness, FEMA can determine which projects have the greatest potential for success.

With the sub-application performance ranking in mind, applicants can strategically position their projects for success. It is important to thoroughly understand the ranking process and ensure all necessary criteria are met. By addressing FEMA’s priorities, demonstrating readiness, and showcasing cost-effective solutions, applicants can increase their chances of receiving funding from FEMA.

separating BRIC grant myths from fiction


In conclusion, understanding the myths surrounding FEMA's BRIC program is crucial for anyone seeking funding. It helps you navigate the application process with clarity and accuracy. Additionally, being aware of the "identified for further review" category and its impact on project funding can help you strategize your approach. Remember to use the best available data when applying for FEMA grants and be knowledgeable about the benefit-cost analysis software. Experienced FEMA Grant writers know when and how to adjust tables for specific projects. The benefit-cost ratio (BCR) plays a significant role in the selection process, so it's essential to understand its importance. Lastly, familiarize yourself with the threshold criteria for eligibility and grasp how the scoring system works. For a more comprehensive understanding of FEMA's BRIC program and how to navigate it successfully, contact Shauna for a consultation today.


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