Updated: Jul 25
What if you could afford it? That’s the dream of city engineers and public works directors everywhere, and the question I love asking. Because for a grant writer with a proven track record of securing funds for suburban communities, my big why is, “If only they knew they could get grant funding to reduce flooding and remove the residents’ worries!” Completing your flood relief project for one-quarter of the cost–or less–is a reality and I help my clients get there with programs like FEMA’s BRIC Program.
Are you struggling with financial limitations as you work on your flood relief project? Look no further than FEMA's BRIC (Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities) grant! In this blog post, we'll explain how the BRIC Program works (including the potential to cover up to 75% of your project costs), talk about the challenges of managing the local match and project timeline, discuss the types of projects that can receive funding, and emphasize how hiring a professional grant writer will get you through these challenges. Discover how a BRIC grant can make your flood relief project a reality and prevent future flooding in your community.
On this episode of UrbanHydro, Shauna Urlacher delves into the world of flood relief funding by asking city managers and public works directors: what if you could afford it? You can get grant funding to make reduced flooding a reality and remove the residents’ worries! She uncovers the various criteria and considerations for securing flood mitigation project grants. From the maximum reimbursement cap to the necessary local match, Shauna unveils the intricacies of navigating the funding landscape. She highlights the significant increase in funding available in 2022 and the eligibility of economically disadvantaged rural communities for enhanced financial support. Providing insights on project timelines, grant writing, and grant administration expenses, Shauna sheds light on the process of bringing these vital projects to fruition. Tune in to this episode to discover how communities can leverage FEMA's BRIC program to build a resilient future.
Understanding FEMA's BRIC Program for Flood Relief Projects
Are you looking to push forward with your flood relief project but finances are an obstacle? Well, here’s something worth considering: The FEMA BRIC (Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities) Program. It's a funding opportunity set up to support projects designed to alleviate flooding and can cover up to 75% of your project costs. Sound interesting? Let’s delve into what this could mean for your community.
How the BRIC Grant Works
A surprising number of projects qualify for BRIC funding each year, as FEMA's annual program continues to expand to meet increasing needs. In fact, in 2022 alone, BRIC funding soared to nearly $2.3 billion across the country. Each project eligible for this competitive grant program can receive up to $50 million. There are criteria each project must meet from cost share to mitigating risk from a natural hazard, which I cover in my main article on BRIC criteria.
Once selected, the catch lies in two constraints: the local match and the project timeline.
Managing the Local Match
You see, applications are often limited by the community's ability to provide the local match and deliver the project within the stipulated timeframe. The BRIC program provides up to 75% of the project cost, while the remaining 25% must be sourced from non-federal funding channels.
This could mean dipping into your general fund or securing another grant (provided it’s not federal) - so consider state or county grants or low-interest loans. There is, however, a silver lining for economically disadvantaged rural communities: for these applicants, BRIC could fund 90% of project costs and cover 100% of management costs. It might just be worth investigating if your community qualifies.
Sticking to the Project Timeline
Let's talk about the other constraint: the completion timeframe. Once awarded, your project must be finalized within three years – and that includes wrapping up all related paperwork. If your project is awarded a BRIC grant and depending on the project size and the status of the project when you receive the award, those three years can pass rather swiftly. Make sure you've got your timeline locked down before you even prepare your sub-application.
What Kind of Project Qualifies for BRIC Funding?
For a community's flood mitigation project to be considered for BRIC funding, it needs to meet three criteria: it must cost less than $50 million; the community should be capable of meeting the 25% match in funding, and it must be feasible to complete within three years.
Many ask about the typical project size eligible for a BRIC grant. For the communities I've assisted, projects usually fall within the $2 million to $8 million range.
The Role of a Professional Grant Writer
One more thing worth noting: sub-applications for FEMA grants are complex, so it's generally beneficial to hire a professional grant writer. Keep in mind, grant writing and administration costs can be included in your BRIC sub-application. Up to 5% of the total grant award can be for grant writing and grant administration.
Reimbursement of Costs for BRIC Grants
Typically, when a project is valued between $2 and $8 million, FEMA's maximum reimbursement of 5% is more than enough to cover the grant writing and administration costs. An experienced grant writer will know how to write your sub-application in a way to allow these costs to be reimbursed, even if the costs are incurred prior to award.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How does a community's ability to provide a local match affect its funding request for a BRIC grant?
The community's ability to provide a local match is a determining factor in their funding request for BRIC grants. The BRIC program provides up to 75% of eligible project costs, with the remaining 25% needing to come from nonfederal funding sources, such as general funds, non-federal grants, or low-interest loans. It’s important to consider the local match when applying for funding and have a plan for how your community will fund the local match.
How does the doubling of funding for the BRIC program in 2022 impact communities seeking flood relief projects?
The doubling of funding for the BRIC program in 2022 provides increased opportunities for communities seeking funding for flood relief projects, with nearly $2.3 billion available nationwide. This increased funding allowed more projects to be awarded, which improved the success rate of applications submitted. As a result, there were project selections in 55 states and territories and 34 tribes.
What are the pros and cons of FEMA's maximum reimbursement of 5% for grant writing and administration costs?
Very few flood mitigation grant programs reimburse grant writing and grant administration costs. This is one way FEMA’s grant programs are different. Reimbursement of these expenses is particularly important because FEMA’s grant applications are complex and often require a professional grant writer with expertise in FEMA grant writing to prepare them. Allowing these costs to be reimbursed provides communities with the funds needed to prepare and administer these complex applications. However, reimbursing grant writing and administration costs as a percent of the project cost may not cover these expenses for smaller projects and only the sub-applications that are awarded can request reimbursement.
So, if your community is grappling with a flood relief project, don't overlook the possibility of applying for a BRIC grant. It could bring your project to life, help alleviate community flooding, and start building resilience from natural disasters.'
Intrigued? For a deeper dive, check out my previous blog or watch my video on the basic criteria for BRIC funding.