TWM Contributor: Sheila Kimlinger, PE, SE

Did you know? Approximately $30 billion in motor fuel tax revenue was collected at the federal level from this tax in FY 2021. A percentage of these dollars are earmarked to support state highways, road infrastructure, and other local transportation projects. This funding offers most municipalities the opportunity to only spend 10-30% of “local” money with state or federal government supplying the other 70-90%.

Grants play a big part in helping our clients stretch their local dollars into bigger projects

When navigating through the grant process, there are several steps that are helpful to consider and provide a better understanding of the challenges you might encounter.

Choosing the right grant program for the project is an important first step. The project must meet many or most of the criteria, whether that is pedestrian accommodations, congestion reduction, safety improvements, or location in underrepresented areas, etc. Don’t try to jam a project into a grant program that doesn’t fit. Wait for the next opportunity.

Keeping the size of the project in mind is also key. Some grant programs have project size limits (both minimum and maximum) or annual cycles for the grant process, either on a 1- or 2-year basis.

Grant writing is an essential skill in the process, a bit of art and science! It takes both knowledge of engineering processes and principles as well as the ability to clearly state project objectives. Grants are usually selected on a point/rank system, so application narratives need to comply with limits and scope and “check off” the various talking points.

To increase your chances of funding success, consider the following tips and guidelines that will benefit your grant application:

    • Purchase and/or own all necessary property ahead of the grant application.
    • Start or have the engineering design completed.
    • Develop a realistic project schedule with interim deadlines noted.
    • Include some level of approval by the public (letters of support from adjacent communities and businesses, holding a public meeting, etc.).
    • Develop a good problem statement to clearly show how those served will benefit from the project. This will validate the need for the project.
    • If possible, find somewhere to include a statement about the project sponsor and their ability to complete the project. Perhaps add your past history of successful grants.
    • Clearly show how the project meets the goals identified in that particular grant program. Using exhibits and visuals such as location maps and photos are important.
    • Try to answer every possible question that a reviewer could have or would ask.

Once the grant is submitted, monitor the progress and utilize all the tools at your disposal. If appropriate, check in with the grant group and find out the progress. Perhaps have your state legislators check in and see where the project is in the process. Let them know you’re interested in the outcome!

If you’re unsuccessful don’t give up! A good project is a good project, and will eventually be noticed and get funded, whether through the same grant program or by a different method.

TWM grant application services

Many communities hire a consultant to help with the grant application process. TWM has a long history of experience with grant application services. We can provide turn-key assistance that takes care of all aspects of the grant process. We regularly assist and are highly successful in helping rural communities, counties, cities, and towns achieve the highest levels of funding opportunities and best loan rates applicable for their projects.

Our staff is experienced with a variety of grant types, programs, and application requirements as well as grant administration:

  • We prepare exhibits, narratives, press releases, technical components, and survey questionnaires.
  • We present projects before decision-makers for input, discussion, and review.
  • We coordinate public involvement.
  • We maintain relationships with the grant/loan agencies and their staff.
  • We have a high success rate in pursuing grants for our clients, including CMAQ, STP, RBI, SRTS, ITEP, TAP, MEPRD, EDA, and many other types of grants.

At TWM, we understand the challenges and struggles our clients may face when applying for grants. It can be a daunting process! Having an experienced staff to help solve this challenge is just one way how TWM provides Exceptional Service. Nothing Less.

If you’d like help developing funding strategies and preparing a grant application for your infrastructure project, contact TWM today.