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When's the Right Time to Start Your FEMA BRIC Grant Sub-Application?

Updated: Aug 7, 2023

Are you interested in securing a FEMA Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant for your community? Timing and preparation are key factors in a successful application. Understanding the timeline and what makes a quality sub-application is crucial. In this blog post, we will discuss the ideal timeline for submitting your sub-application, the importance of early planning, and the significance of post-submission planning. Discover how to maximize your chances of success and secure vital resources for your community's resilience projects with a FEMA BRIC grant.


In this episode of UrbanHydro, Shauna Urlacher explores the critical question: "When is the right time to start a FEMA BRIC grant sub-application?" Discover the intricate timing involved in applying for these grants and why careful planning is key to securing funding for flood mitigation projects. Tune in to find out more!


00:01:01 The difference between the state application deadline and your deadline

00:02:42 Going over a yearly schedule

00:03:54 Failed FEMA sub application? Watch my video/blog.

Planning for Your FEMA BRIC Grant Application: Timing and Preparation

Interested in securing a FEMA Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant for your community but unsure about when to start your sub-application? Timing is critical, and advance planning is your true friend in this process.

Understanding the FEMA BRIC and FMA Timeline

FEMA's BRIC and Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) open application periods have followed a similar annual timeline over the past several years. This consistency aids in planning your sub-application because you know when to expect the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO). However, once the application period opens, each state's emergency management agency establishes its own deadline for sub-applications.


This is understandably confusing for local communities! Here are the three big pieces of information you need to know:

  1. The deadline in the NOFO is for the state to submit its application to FEMA

  2. When you're submitting for a community or county, your key date is the state's deadline. You submit your sub-application to your respective state agency, which then includes these sub-applications in their application to FEMA.

  3. This is why it’s called a sub-application because it will be included within the state’s application.

starting a project at the right time

What Makes a Successful Sub-Application


Developing a quality sub-application requires significant effort. The process is time-consuming and ideally requires four months for thorough preparation. However, all FEMA flood mitigation applications have the same primary requirements, which is good news. That means, if your project fits the eligibility criteria for funding, you don't have to hold off until the application period opens to begin preparing your sub-application. It also allows the state to move community sub-applications between FEMA’s grant programs. They may do this to place your application in the program where it is best positioned to receive funding.

A Typical FEMA Sub-Application Timeline

One example I’ve worked through is of a community successfully preparing and submitting a thorough sub-application for a FEMA BRIC grant, a project that started in July. Meetings were held in August, analysis was conducted, additional data was requested from consulting engineers, a pre-application was submitted in September, and the sub-application was submitted in November. The timeline allowed for sufficient preparation and a well-developed application.


As such, to maximize your chances of success, kickstart your sub-application in the summer and aim to finish it by the state’s deadline in the fall. This timeframe assumes you already have an engineering study completed, or you're using FEMA's flood insurance study. You will need to wait for the open application period to create an application in FEMA’s grants management system (FEMA GO). But, an experienced FEMA grant writer will know the application requirements without needing to wait for the application period to open.

BRIC funding before a flooding disaster occurs

Many communities make the mistake of waiting for the NOFO release in the fall before they start working on their sub-application. During FEMA’s open application period, some states require a pre-application followed by approval to submit a sub-application. Waiting for the NOFO in these states will only allow a few weeks to prepare your pre-application, and then one to two weeks after approval of your pre-application to prepare and submit your subapplication. States that provide more thorough reviews before submitting to FEMA have tighter deadlines. An experienced grant writer will work ahead of the published deadlines to take full advantage of the state reviewer’s expertise.


The Importance of Post-Submission Planning

Once submitted, reserve early winter for addressing any comments from the state before FEMA's deadline at the end of January. Then, in late winter and early spring, it's time to plan and prioritize your future projects for upcoming grant applications. Projects that are good candidates for funding mitigate future damages from a natural disaster and either have an engineering study completed or the properties are located within FEMA’s Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). If an engineering study is needed, but is not complete, this is the time to set deadlines for the completion of the engineering study to align with the grant deadlines. Coordinating these efforts could allow your sub-application to be submitted this year rather than waiting an entire year for the application period to open again.

What to expect if your sub-application is Selected for Further Review by FEMA

If your project is “Selected for Further Review” by FEMA, the initial selections are made in May and the remaining selections are made in August. Initial selections are typically planning projects or other “simple” projects (such as generators). Complex project selections (such as infrastructure projects) are announced in August. If your project is selected for further review, you will work through FEMA’s Requests For Information (RFIs), followed by award, and a three-year performance period.

know which season to gather data and plan flood mitigation projects

FEMA’s BRIC grant can provide vital resources for your community's resilience projects. But the key to obtaining these funds lies in understanding the process, the timeline, and the importance of early and appropriate preparation. Remember, preparation is the decisive element between a successful sub-application and one that falls short.


In case you've previously submitted a FEMA sub-application that wasn't successful, it would be beneficial to discover why your BRIC sub-application was not successful by referring to my previous discussion on this topic. Check it out to bolster your chances of winning the next grant!


Frequently Asked Questions

How does the timing of the FEMA BRIC grant application process impact a community's ability to submit a thorough sub-application?

The timing of the FEMA BRIC grant application process is crucial for communities to submit a thorough sub-application because the open application period is shorter than the time it takes to prepare a quality sub-application. Any sub-applications that do not meet the grant criteria or are incomplete, will not be considered for funding.


Potential disadvantages of waiting for the NOFO release in the fall before beginning the sub-application process for FEMA BRIC grants include not having enough time to meet the state's submittal deadline and rushing the preparation of the sub-application. This may lead to a less thorough or incomplete sub-application.

seasonal planning for FEMA grant applications

How can the consistency of the open application period for FEMA BRIC and FMA grants help communities plan ahead?

The consistency of the open application period for FEMA BRIC and FMA grants helps communities plan ahead by allowing them to anticipate when the application period will open. Communities can begin their sub-applications in advance of the open application period, and allocate resources and time as needed to prepare for the upcoming deadline. By working backward from the typical annual deadline, communities can begin assembling their sub-application and supporting documentation, so it’s ready when needed.

What role do state emergency management agencies play in the sub-application process for FEMA BRIC grants?

State emergency management agencies play a crucial role in the sub-application process for FEMA BRIC grants. Communities and counties submit their sub-applications to their respective state agencies, who then determine which sub-applications will be included in the state application to FEMA.


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