COVID-19 Federal Assistance e311


Community Engagement & Local Partnerships, Fund Planning & Allocation

Funding Source

American Rescue Plan Act, CARES Act, CSLFRF, FEMA, HUD, Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act

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

A municipality should ensure that grant-funded programs and activities are compliant with grant requirements, including but not limited to civil rights laws, the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) regulations, and Fair Housing regulations. If a municipality monitors and conducts legislative analysis, it should incorporate any updates into its strategy for ensuring compliance, inclusivity, and equity relative to specific grant programming.  

An equity framework and public involvement plan should be considered from the outset through completion of municipal programs and projects. 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.

A key ongoing component is a public involvement plan (“Plan”) to address how it will engage with the community and engage diverse populations so there is equal access to program services.  The Plan should outline strategies to reach underserved populations with messaging regarding grant funded services to the broadest possible audience, including in locations where underserved populations live and socialize. Municipalities should hold public meetings and civic gatherings—and provide information and make targeted outreach to underserved populations—before and throughout the duration of the grant programming.

The Plan should consider how to provide meaningful access to limited English proficient (“LEP”) individuals. Municipalities should provide agency training to ensure staff comprehension of regulatory compliance requirements and inclusive approaches under any given grant program.

In developing the plan, a municipality should utilize in-house Geographic Information Services (“GIS”) to update demographic data and identify and meet program objectives for populations that are underserved or marginalized. If the municipality does not have a GIS resource, the municipality may use the analysis tools from the US Census Bureau’s website, including maps of underserved areas and identified Qualified Census Tracts (“QCTs”).[1]

Metropolitan Planning Organizations and regional or state municipalities may also have other demographic information resources.

Municipalities may also consider engaging with community-based organizations (“CBOs”), non-profits, and the public to help build an understanding of the community’s needs and to help facilitate impact. Such organizations may increase municipal awareness 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, and public transportation, among other issues. It may also help foster ongoing and long-term collaboration between these stakeholders and the municipality.

Finally, municipalities should aim to garner trust within the community. An example of this can be to highlight 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 CBOs and 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 Updated: February 15, 2023 

[1] United States Census Bureau, available at: