COVID-19 Federal Assistance e311


Community Engagement & Local Partnerships, Workforce & Economic Development

What are some strategies for ensuring grant-funded initiatives are inclusive and aligned with community needs/desires?

A municipality should first ensure any grant-funded programs and activities are compliant with grant requirements, including but not limited to civil rights laws, ADA regulations, and Fair Housing regulations.  

If a municipality has staff that monitors and conducts legislative analysis, the municipality should incorporate that resource into its overall strategy for ensuring compliance and inclusivity relative to specific grant programming.  

For a municipality’s programs and projects, an equity framework should be considered from planning through completion. To consider equity considerations, it is important to have an open and transparent planning process that includes routine engagement with elected officials, stakeholders, and the public.

It is also important to ensure a public involvement plan is in place to address the ways a municipality will engage with the community. This plan should employ strategies that are creative and engage diverse populations so there is equal access to programs services.  The plan should outline strategies to reach underserved populations with messaging regarding grant funded services, including communications in locations where such populations socialize. A municipality could consider holding public meetings and civic gatherings, as well as providing information and targeted outreach to underserved populations before, during, and after grant programming is initiated. The plan should also consider how to provide meaningful access to limited English proficient (“LEP”) individuals. Agency training should also be provided to ensure staff comprehension of both regulatory compliance requirements and inclusive approaches under any given grant program. In developing the plan, a municipality may wish to utilize in-house Geographic Information Services (“GIS”) to update demographic data and assist with identifying and meeting program objectives with respect to areas that are considered underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected. If the municipality does not have a GIS resource, the municipality may use the data gathering and analysis tools available on the US Census Bureau’s website, including tools that populate maps of underserved areas and identify Qualified Census Tracts (“QCTs”).[1] Other resources for demographic information may include Metropolitan Planning Organizations and regional or state municipalities. It is also important to be aware of local and national political, social, and economic events which impact community health and viability, such as employment rates, job availability, education and workforce training, food deserts, public transportation, among other issues.

Municipalities may also consider engaging with community-based organizations, non-profits, and the public to help build an understanding of the community’s needs and to help facilitate impact.

Finally, municipalities should aim to garner trust within the community. An example of this can be to highlight for the community updates and advertise local opportunities for engagement and community input. This may be done on the municipality website but can also be shared through community-based organizations (“CBO”) such as media outlets. Fostering an inclusive environment for community members to voice concerns regarding inequities will help solidify trust and facilitate critical feedback. It will also become an invaluable resource for determining program needs more generally.

Last Revised: July 6, 2022

[1] United States Census Bureau, available at: