Second round of Ready Communities implementation grants now open

Eligible organizations encouraged to attend information workshop on August 6 to learn about Round 2 guidelines, timeline, and process.

Regional Opportunity Initiatives (ROI) has opened the second round of Ready Communities Implementation Grants. For this round, ROI has modified the grant application process and guidelines to more effectively support communities in developing fundable grant requests.

“For the second round of Ready Communities Implementation grants ROI will have $1.5 million in grant dollars to support opportunities for advancing quality of place in communities across the Indiana Uplands,” said President and CEO Tina Peterson. “We have refined the process for Round 2 to ensure that applicants have the time and resources necessary to prepare grant requests that are likely to be funded. We want to empower communities to co-create with their stakeholders, to explore the range of funding opportunities available to them from ROI and others, and to build sustainable approaches for advancing quality of place, workforce attraction, and regional prosperity.”

Grant Information Workshop

Community stakeholders, county advisory groups, and eligible organizations are invited to attend a grant information workshop on Tuesday, August 6, 2-4pm at College Hill Apartments, 1 College Hill St, Paoli, IN 47454. Attendance at this workshop is strongly recommended for interested applicants.

Applicants who applied but did not receive funding in a previous round must attend if they intend to submit a proposal for the same project again.

This workshop will also walk participants through the application process and identify desired outcomes of potential projects. ROI staff will also help participants craft strong, clear, focused, and aligned applications.

About Ready Communities

The Ready Communities Initiative provides counties and communities the resources necessary to strategically plan for, develop, and implement projects and programs that build quality of place, grow regional capacity for workforce development and attraction, and improve the attributes and amenities that make the Indiana Uplands a desirable place to live, work, and play.

“We want to ensure that our children, families, and employers have every reason to stay in the 11 counties of the Indiana Uplands,” added Peterson. “The Ready Communities program enables county and local stakeholders to work collaboratively in evaluating county quality of place assets and building consensus around potential solutions to enhance the live, work, play environment and improve our ability to attract and retain talent in our counties and our region.”

Grant Process & County Plans

Counties began the Ready Communities planning process in the fall of 2018. Each Indiana Uplands county received a $50,000 planning grant to develop a Quality of Place and Workforce Attraction Plan. To date, four of the 11 Uplands counties have completed plans, with the remaining seven plans still in progress. Quality of Place and Workforce Attraction Plans for Brown, Crawford, Lawrence, and Monroe Counties can be viewed on the ROI website (https://regionalopportunityinc.org/ready-communities/plans/).

Plans from Daviess and Greene counties are in the final review phase and should be posted soon. Please check back regularly to see if additional plans have been added to the site. Implementation grants are only eligible for projects or programs in counties with completed plans posted on the ROI website.

Implementation Grant Eligibility

Second round implementation grants are available for projects in counties that have completed Quality of Place and Workforce Attraction Plans or submit plans by August 1, 2019.

A total of $3 million in Ready Communities implementation grant funding is available in three rounds of funding. Dollars not awarded in a previous round will be rolled into the next round of funding. In Round 2 of Ready Communities implementation grants, up to $1,500,000 will be available. Grants are available in amounts from $100,000 to $250,000 per grant in each round.

The following kinds of organizations are eligible to apply:

  • Incorporated cities and towns
  • County Commissions and Councils
  • Nonprofits including foundations, agencies, and hospitals
  • Public Educational Institutions including Pre-K, K-12, and Post-secondary
  • Faith-based organizations
  • Main Street organizations
  • Chambers of Commerce and Economic Development Organizations that have an affiliated 501(c)(3)

Eligible applicants include organizations that meet the definition of exempt entities as defined by Internal Revenue Code (“Code”) section 501(c)(3) and those treated as a public charity described in Code section 170(b)(1)(A). Other exempt organizations that do not possess 501(c)(3) status (such as organizations described in Code sections 501(c)(4) or 501(c)(6)) may be eligible for funding, but will be subject to an enhanced level of due diligence and expenditure responsibility to ensure such grants are used exclusively for charitable purposes. Please contact ROI to confirm your organization’s eligibility.

Projects and initiatives eligible for implementation funding must align with priorities identified within the completed county quality of place and workforce attraction plans and the Strategic Plan for Economic and Community Prosperity in Southwest Central Indiana.

A local match of at least 10% is required for all awarded grants. Local matches may be cash and in-kind. However, in-kind funding may not account for more than half the local match.

Funding Categories

Funding categories for Ready Communities Implementation Grants include Aesthetics and Beautification Enhancements, Connectivity Infrastructure Development, and/or Community Cohesion & Support initiatives. Some examples of the types of projects or programs that may be eligible for grant funding include, but are not limited to:

  • Aesthetics and Beautification Enhancements: place branding, public art, streetscape beautification, park enhancements, and main street type investments
  • Connectivity Infrastructure Development: bike & pedestrian paths, trail enhancements, walkability improvements, public broadband or wi-fi, and public transit or other transportation needs
  • Community Cohesion & Support: childcare facilities, workforce training centers, public spaces, innovation spaces, and farmers markets

Funds for further planning or studies are limited to 10% of the grant request, and the proposed planning must be instrumental to successful implementation of the proposal.

Evaluation Criteria

Applications will be evaluated based on the following criteria, in order of importance:

  1. Capacity to advance prosperity in the region
  2. Relevancy to county plan and desired outcomes identified by ROI
  3. Potential for significant impact on workforce development and attraction
  4. Sustainability of project/proposal, where appropriate
  5. Leveraging of additional funding sources and partnerships
  6. Thoughtful budget development
  7. Applicants’ capacity to execute project or program, with a focus on community buy-in

Successful applications will also identify how project impact will be measured, how indicators will be used to determine project success, and how the project outcomes will benefit both the community and the larger Indiana Uplands region. Example metrics for use as measurements or indicators will be available soon at https://regionalopportunityinc.org/ready-communities/

Timeline and How to Apply

Round 2 will use a two-part grant proposal process. Interested organizations are asked to submit a two-page (maximum) letter of intent online via ROI’s grant portal no later than end of day, Monday, September 9.

Following a review of the letters of intent, selected organizations will be invited to submit full grant applications online, which will be due November 4. Finalists for Round 2 grants will be invited to give presentations to ROI’s Ready Communities grant evaluation committee in November or early December.

For more information on eligibility, letters of intent, and application requirements, go to www.regionalopportunityinc.org/ready-communities.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s