The FEMA BRIC program is a valuable funding source for resiliency projects
Amid a changing climate, building resilience has come to the forefront as a way to mitigate the fallout of unprecedented weather events. But building resilience requires strong funding support.
“Many small local governments that want to apply for mitigation grants don’t have the non-Federal cost share,” said Mary Glasscock, Senior Technical Consultant in WithersRavenel’s Funding and Asset Management team. “Most local governments do not have the standard 25% or even the distressed community 10% of, for example, a $3,000,000 grant that will ultimately create long-lasting impacts.”
The non-Federal cost-share, also known as “non-federal share,” or “match,” is the portion of the costs of a federally grant funded project must be provided by the local government. Mary said this is where state funding agencies can step in and help communities.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, has several grant programs to help vulnerable cities, towns, and communities build resiliency against disasters—seen and unforeseen.
“For every $1 that’s spent on a mitigation construction project, say to alleviate repetitive flooding from stormwater runoff from a daylong rainfall, this $1 saves $6 on future losses; loss of housing, loss of roads, loss of agricultural land, displacement costs, and infrastructure repair costs,” Mary said. “Without a doubt, federal agencies now offer a wide variety of options.”
One of the many programs that Mary works with is the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant.
What is FEMA BRIC?
To help communities build resiliency and beef up their infrastructure to harden against repetitive storm events, BRIC grants support local communities, tribes and special districts or authorities.
According to FEMA, the BRIC grant program’s guiding principles are:
Supporting communities through capability- and capacity-building
Encouraging and enabling innovation
Enabling large infrastructure projects
Mary has helped clients apply for these grants with success. The application decision-making process for those chosen by the state and ultimately by FEMA to advance, though, is extensive.
Based on her experience with the program, Mary said, “Stormwater is the No. 1 funded item, with utilities a close second.”
What follows is the schedule for FEMA BRIC applications for the most recent BRIC application period – now closed – that opened in October and concludes in February 2024:
Letter of interest: Due October 2
Online sub-application: Due December 4
Subapplication review by North Carolina Emergency Management committee, which scores and ranks them: January 4–5
Revisions made and submission of the final application and Benefit Cost Analysis: Due February 5
State submits application to FEMA: February 26, 2024
The final decision from FEMA for capability and capacity-building project will likely be Autumn of 2024; construction projects selected to proceed should be announced in Spring 2025. Letters of Interest were due in October 2023; if a community did not submit one, then they must wait for the next grant cycle in 2024 – likely September or October 2024. Plan ahead and consider your repetitively damaged facilities for this FEMA BRIC opportunity well in advance of September 2024.
As mentioned, BRIC is just one of the programs that can help clients with their resiliency efforts. “There are also the FEMA Flood Management Assistance (FMA) and the High Hazard Potential Dams (HHPD) programs,” according to Mary. “Clients recently sought our assistance to apply for each of these grants. FMA leans more heavily on NFIP compliance, and most communities do participate in NFIP. All FEMA Hazard Mitigation grants require participation in and adoption of the FEMA-approved regional hazard mitigation plan, some of which are due for updates as they are ending the five-year cycle.
“It takes advance preparation to apply for these grants, but when a local government understands how to obtain the cost share and goes for it, the results are truly game changers for infrastructure,” says Mary.
When it comes to exploring funding opportunities, Mary said many local governments often do not have staff on hand to read through and review hours of information about any kind of available funding opportunities.
This is where the WithersRavenel Funding team works with communities to provide all kinds of assistance at various stages of the grant application and administration process: infrastructure and community asset review, GIS mapping and Capital Improvement Plan development, project prioritization, ideal partnership discovery, community engagement, multi-year funding plans, cost share fulfilment strategies, then post-award grant management under all local, state and federal regulations using our Innovation Team’s web-based software.
Other funding sources
Beyond FEMA, other agencies can help with funding resiliency projects.
For instance, the U.S. Department of Defense Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Program partners with nongovernmental organizations, states, and local governments to acquire conservation easements and land interests for buffer areas around military installations.
Other funding applications and awards Mary has managed include National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Resilience Regional Challenge, funded through the Inflation Reduction Act; USACE Civil Works Dam Safety flood reduction projects; and DOT PROTECT funds for flood mitigation studies benefitting coastal communities.
While funding tools, guidance and opportunities abound, these can seem overwhelming to navigate. With her significant experience guiding local governments during the grant application and post-award management process, Mary understands these challenges and which resources are best suited for community infrastructure.
Reach out to Senior Technical Consultant Mary Glasscock at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your funding needs to meet resiliency challenges.
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