Nov 7, 2022 – Congress has recently enacted several large-scale investment bills that create or expand funding for state and local programs. These bills – the Inflation Reduction Act, Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – are designed to stabilize the economy and strengthen communities.
Here’s a look at how these investments can be accessed to support youth and young adults, and what you need to know if you’re interested in working locally to tap into these funds.
This information comes from an October 24 webinar hosted by the Forum for Youth Investment, National Youth Employment Coalition (NYEC) and the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). The hourlong conversation highlighted opportunities to apply for and access these federal funds to support the needs of older youth (ages 16 to 24), youth involved in the child welfare and youth justice systems, and young people who are not connected to school or the workforce. For additional information, the full webinar recording is available below.
Check out our Guide to Leveraging Recent Legislation to Support Older Youth, for a clear overview of the opportunities in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 and Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, including upcoming application deadlines.
1. Inflation Reduction Act and the Environmental and Climate Justice Block Grant
The 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is a large-scale economic investment addressing issues ranging from prescription coverage to climate justice. It includes a $3 billion Environmental Justice Block Grant.
According to analyses, the IRA could lead to the creation of 9 million jobs – an exciting opportunity for youth development professionals and the Opportunity Youth field to leverage to support youth engagement and youth employment within our communities.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the implementing agency for the climate related provisions of the IRA, and there is a new programmatic office within the EPA to support the implementation: the Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights. The office will work to help ensure that stakeholders are engaged in the process so that implemented funds meet the needs of communities and directly impacted individuals throughout the country.
The $3 billion Environmental & Climate Justice Block Grant will be broken down into $2.8 billion to benefit disadvantaged communities through community led projects, and $200 million for technical assistance. Organizations eligible for this block grant will include states, tribes, municipalities, and nonprofits. Right now, the EPA is still in planning and listening mode, so the grants are not open for applications yet, but you can sign-up here to be notified when they are and follow their Twitter account for updates. Learn more about which communities and the types of projects that have been funded by the EPA here, and see which grants are currently available via this link.
In the meantime, the Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights (OEJECR) is focused on two key priorities as they’re structuring their office to prepare for the implementation of these grants. These priorities include:
- Increasing staffing for environmental justice in all regions. This means that there will be more opportunities for engagement with their regional staff, and more partners for conversations in local areas. Regional plans are currently in the process of being developed.
- Sharing more information about grants throughout the EPA. We anticipate this additional information will be shared over the next months and through next year, especially about the $3 billion Environmental Justice Block Grant. We’ve also heard that there will be regional staff on the frontlines who will be able to support applicants with navigating some of the barriers that traditionally come with the process of applying for federal grants. The OEJECR office is eager to learn and hear from directly impacted individuals, community-based organizations, and communities.
2. Bipartisan Safer Communities Act
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) was signed into law June 25th 2022, and is focused on reauthorizing, funding, and supporting programs, grants, and activities that:
- Promote access to behavioral and mental health services
- Enhance school safety and security initiatives
- Address gun violence in communities.
The BSCA includes both formula and competitive grants. Funds are already being distributed, with more rolling out over multiple fiscal years. The agencies to watch for funding opportunities related to the BSCA are:
👉🏽 To learn more about specific grants available, and links to apply, check out our Guide to Leveraging Recent Legislation to Support Older Youth.
3. American Rescue Plan Act Update
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) is a once-in-a-generation funding opportunity for our communities. Although funds are already being distributed, there may still be windows to direct funds in your community towards older youth because of the multi-year funding structure.
Moving the Money: American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Local Action Tools: This microsite offers resources on leveraging ARPA to support older youth, especially Opportunity Youth, including a webinar, video explainers, examples of states and municipalities using funds to support older youth, and more.
Timeka Braithwaite is the Forum for Youth Investment’s SparkAction Editorial Fellow. Caitlin Kawaguchi, Jo Ann Paanio, and Caitlin Johnson contributed to this blog.