ROI opens third round of Ready Communities implementation grants

Regional Opportunity Initiatives (ROI) has opened the third round of Ready Communities Implementation Grants. Up to $1.14 million in grant dollars is available to advance quality of place and workforce attraction in the 11 counties of the Indiana Uplands.

“ROI’s Ready Communities program has empowered our communities to build consensus, collaborate, and develop strategies and programs that will catalyze success in the Indiana Uplands region,” said President and CEO Tina Peterson. “In our first two rounds of implementation grants, we set in motion 12 innovative and enterprising projects. We’re looking forward to Round III, and the opportunity to invest in even more transformative programs that will advance and improve our ability to attract and retain talent in our counties and our region.”

About Ready Communities

The Ready Communities initiative provides counties and communities the resources necessary to strategically plan for, develop, and implement 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.

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. Completed Quality of Place and Workforce Attraction Plans can be viewed on the ROI website (https://regionalopportunityinc.org/ready-communities/plans/).

Following the Ready Communities Planning Grant phase, up to $3 million was made available for quality of place and workforce attraction implementation grants. In round I & II, ROI awarded $1.86 million in 12 Ready Communities implementation grants. In round III, $1.14 million is available in amounts from $100,000 to $250,000 per grant.

Implementation Grant Eligibility

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. These organizations should contact ROI to confirm 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.

Timeline and How to Apply

Round III 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, May 4 (link: https://roigrants.communityforce.com/Funds/Search.aspx).

Following a review of the letters of intent, selected organizations will be invited to submit full grant applications online, which will be due July 1. Finalists for Round III grants will be invited to give presentations to ROI’s Ready Communities grant evaluation committee in early August.

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

To confirm eligibility or ask questions, please contact Larry Pejeau at lpejeau@regionalopportunityinc.org.

About Regional Opportunity Initiatives

The mission of Regional Opportunity Initiatives (ROI) is to advance economic and community prosperity in the 11 counties of the Indiana Uplands (Brown, Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Orange, Owen and Washington counties). ROI is implementing education, workforce, and quality of place initiatives across the Uplands region.

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