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Deadline: September 28, 2023

U.S. Department of Transportation: Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods (RCN) Program

The U.S. Department of Transportation has released a joint Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the Reconnecting Communities Pilot (RCP) and Neighborhood Access and Equity (NAE) programs, which will combine two major discretionary grants into one NOFO. Together, this combined program will be known as the Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods (RCN) Program.

The RCN Program will support projects that advance community-centered connection transportation projects, with a priority for projects that benefit disadvantaged communities, by  improve access to daily needs such as jobs, education, healthcare, food, and recreation; fostering equitable development and restoration; and reconnecting communities by removing, retrofitting, or mitigating highways or other transportation facilities that create barriers to community connectivity, including to mobility, access, or economic development. Grant programs offered through RCN are briefly summarized below:
* The RCP Program provides grant funding for planning and capital construction to address infrastructure barriers, restore community connectivity, and improve people’s lives.
* The NAE Program provides grant funding to improve walkability, safety, and affordable transportation access through context-sensitive strategies for improving community connectivity; mitigating or remediating negative impacts on the human or natural environment; and assisting economically disadvantaged or underserved communities with planning and capacity building activities.

Three grant types will be offered:

1. Capital Construction: To fund both reconnecting-focused projects and smaller projects focused on reducing environmental harm and improving access in disadvantaged communities.
* A dividing facility
* Mitigating a “burdening” facility (a source of air pollution, noise, stormwater, or other burden)
* Improving access and building or improving Complete Streets.

2. Community Planning: To provide funds for planning activities to support future construction projects and allow for innovative community planning to address localized transportation challenges. Projects may address:
* Planning to restore community connectivity
* Community/public engagement
* Assessing environmental impacts from transportation in underserved communities (i.e., air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, extreme heat hotspots, gaps in tree canopy coverage, or flood prone transportation infrastructure)
* Developing local anti-displacement policies and community benefit agreements

3. Regional Partnerships Challenge: To incentivize stronger partnerships between local governments, Tribal governments, MPOs/RPOs, State DOTs, and non-profit, private, and community partners to tackle persistent equitable access and mobility challenges, as well as greenhouse gas emissions reductions. Applicants must consist of a partnership between two or more eligible agencies.

Amount: $3,155,000,000 is available to make up to 100 grants. Amounts depend on type of grant, as follows:
* Community Planning Grants: Up to $50 million in RCP funds and $135 million in NAE funds for eligible public engagement, feasibility studies, and other planning activities. The maximum Community Planning Grant award funded with RCP funds is $2 million. There is no maximum award amount for a Community Planning Grant award funded with NAE funds.
* Capital Construction Grants: Up to $148 million in RCP funds and $2.57 billion in NAE funds for eligible construction activities. The minimum Capital Construction Grant award funded with RCP funds is $5
million. There is no minimum award amount for a Capital Construction Grant award funded with
NAE funds
* Regional Partnerships Challenge Grants: Up to $450 million of NAE funds to support regional
collaboration and innovation on the eligible activities under Community Planning or Capital
Construction Grants. Three to five awards are anticipated.

Eligibility: 1) A State or territory of the United States; 2) A unit of local government; 3) A political subdivision of a State; 4) A Tribal government; 5) A special purpose district or public authority with a transportation function; 6) A Metropolitan Planning Organization; or 7) A nonprofit organization or institution of higher education that has entered into a partnership with an eligible entity (#1-6 above) and is applying for a grant for planning and capacity building activities in disadvantaged or underserved communities. Note: See solicitation of the detailed breakdown of eligibility per grant type.

Link: https://www.transportation.gov/grants/rcnprogram

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