Community Project Funding for Local Climate Action  - American Cities Climate Challenge
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Community Project Funding for Local Climate Action

Community Project Funding (CPF) is a special kind of discretionary congressionally directed spending. Before 2021, CPF was simply known as “earmarks.” After a decade hiatus, earmarks were restored as CPF with additional accountability, disclosure, and transparency requirements. Your city may already have an annual process for fielding CPF submissions for your members of Congress. To date, each representative may make up to 10-15 requests (varies by year) per fiscal year while each senator may make unlimited requests. Total CPF funding may not exceed 1% of total discretionary spending. For context, this amounted to roughly $15 billion in FY2021, the year CPF debuted.

While not explicitly oriented toward clean energy and climate action, CPF is a general source of funding that may be used to advance such projects. Accordingly, you have ample leeway to use CPF to meet your city’s needs. Here are suggestions when planning for a CPF request:

  • Use CPF to launch projects that are (1) innovative and ambitious, (2) not easily funded by other programs, and/or (3) otherwise ready to go but for near-term budget gaps.
  • Engage community-based organizations and other key stakeholders to align requests with their existing plans and priorities.
  • Consider the political landscape when timing requests and selecting congressional sponsors.
  • Review the Pitch Deck for Local Governments to prepare the best strategy to get buy-in from city leadership, community partners, and elected officials.
  • Meet with members of Congress to discuss potential requests as early as possible.

Here are some early examples that highlight a wide array of equitable decarbonization-related projects funded, in part, with CPF dollars:

  • $3 million

    Cohoes’ floating solar project will generate enough clean electricity to power all municipal facilities for the town of 17,000, save an estimated $500,000 in annual electricity costs (once in operation), and advance sustainable land use practices (by avoiding developing solar on land altogether).

  • $420,000

    Juneau’s air-source heat pump program will help bring comfortable temperatures to low-income households, demonstrating the effectiveness of an efficient electric heating and cooling technology in one of the coldest climates in the United States.

  • $750,000

    Houston’s forthcoming solar farm will include 50 MW of utility-scale solar, 2 MW of community solar, and 150 MW of battery storage, with CPF funding supporting partnerships to train a solar and STEM-focused workforce in the surrounding, historically marginalized Sunnyside neighborhood.

  • $1 million

    Los Angeles’ Boyle Heights community cooling project will install cool pavement coats and plant new trees to lower ambient temperatures and address heat-related illness and death.

Additional Considerations:

  • Multi-year projects may not receive CPF. Prospective applicants should prioritize “shovel-ready” and “shovel-worthy” projects with strong community support.
  • Most CPF projects receive at least hundreds of thousands of dollars, with many in the millions. Applicants should avoid proposals that aren’t similarly ambitious in size.
  • Depending on the request, CPF recipients may need to provide state or local matching funds. These funds do not necessarily need to be in-hand at the time of request, but applicants should review the most recent guidance to fully understand their expectations.
  • Because CPF must be approved in the federal budget, the exact timing of approvals may vary year to year. Depending on the political situation, prospective recipients should be prepared for delays.

For complete CPF rules and regulations, check the most recent congressional guidance and/or talk with members of Congress directly.

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