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How to Plan for Federal Funding - Helpful Hints

Identifying a project is easy. Securing funding is not. While the federal government is pumping unprecedent amounts of infrastructure funding to states, cities, and towns, competition remains fierce and the process confusing. Urban planning plays a critical role in funding projects. APA-IL member Katy Shackelford, AICP, PTP, Grant Specialist at Stantec, has provided some helpful bullet points to help you align your planning work with federal priorities and secure federal funding.

Want to know more about funding from the fountain-of-grant-knowledge known as Katy Shackelford, AICP?

Don't miss Katy and her colleague Emily Snyder at the upcoming APA-ISS Spring Conference, April 13-14, 2023! Katy will be presenting a session that will allow you to learn from industry experts what planning documents, land use policies, and engagement practices you need to successfully compete for federal funds. There will be a discussion on the latest and greatest in tools and resources, and answers to your pressing questions about the IIJA and IRA, and more.

Katy's Helpful Hints

Be sure to have a recent comprehensive plan

In general, for all Federal, State, and Local funding communities are strongly encouraged to have a comprehensive plan adopted in the last 5 years.

You might need a Hazard Mitigation Plan too

For most FEMA programs, including BRIC, FMA, and HMA, the agency is required to have a Hazard Mitigation Plan (approved by FEMA and adopted by the community). The plan expires 5 years from the date of adoption.

ID your project in the Metropolitan Transportation Plan or...

For most USDOT federal grants in urbanized areas, it is strongly encouraged that your project be identified in the Metropolitan Transportation Plan (approved by FHWA and adopted by the MPO). If the project is not listed by name in the funded or illustrative (unfunded) project list, then it is important to explain that the project aligns with the goals and objectives of the plan. These plans are updated every 4/5 years depending on the size of the urbanized area and mandated by federal law.

If you're a rural community, ID your project in the Rural Long Range Transportation Plan, comprehensive plan or transportation plan (and it needs to be recent)

For most USDOT federal grants in rural areas, it is highly beneficial to have a project identified in a Rural Long Range Transportation Plan. At this time there are no federally recognized RPOs (Rural Planning Organizations) in Illinois; however, the Greater Egypt region taken the first step to securing that designation and conducted the state’s first Rural Transportation Plan (adopted in 2022). If the project is not listed by name in the funded or illustrative (unfunded) project list, then it is important to explain that the project aligns with the goals and objectives of the plan. For rural areas outside RPOs, the project is encouraged to be identified in a local comprehensive or transportation plan no more than 5 years old. Click here for another of Katy's articles outline more funding solutions for rural communities.

Don't forget about TIPs/STIPs for transportation projects

In general, federally funded transportation projects are typically included in metropolitan and/or statewide transportation improvement programs (TIPs/STIPs). TIPs/STIPs usually cover a 4-year period of upcoming projects and are developed by the MPO and state DOT, respectively. If your project is not currently in the TIP/STIP at the time of application, you can request a letter from the appropriate agency that confirms the project will be added if awarded federal funds.

Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) for US EDA programs

For US EDA programs, projects must be consistent with the region’s current (adopted within 5 years) Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) or equivalent EDA-accepted regional economic development strategy that meets EDA’s CEDS or strategy requirements. Applicants must clearly detail how the project will support the economic development needs and objectives outlined in the CEDS or equivalent EDA-accepted regional economic development strategy.

In summary:

Good plans for $$$ = Comprehensive Plan, Hazard Mitigation Plan, Long Range Transportation Plans/Metropolitan Transportation Plans, Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan/Transportation Improvement Plan, Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy.


Katy Shackelford, AICP, PTP is the Grant Specialist for Stantec. She identifies and evaluates government and private grant opportunities and match them to clients with funding needs to achieve their strategic, financial, and programmatic goals. Her primary responsibilities as a member of the North American Funding Program include researching, development, and applying for and administering grants.


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