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Thriving Communities Initiative Frequently Asked Questions

DOT Thriving Communities Program

What is the Thriving Communities Program?

The Thriving Communities Program (TCP)—established by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022 (PL-117-103 Division L, Title I)—is designed to provide technical assistance, planning, and capacity building support to advance a pipeline of transportation and community revitalization activities that increase mobility, reduce pollution from transportation sources, expand affordable transportation and housing options, improve health outcomes, facilitate efficient land use, preserve or expand jobs, and enhance connections to health care, education, and food security to benefit disadvantaged populations and communities. The TCP will support and build local capacity to improve project acceleration, access to and management of Federal funding, and deployment of local hiring, workforce development and inclusive community engagement practices.

What are the key differences between the DOT Notice of Funding Opportunity and the DOT Letter of Interest?

The Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) is for providers of technical assistance, which may be nonprofits, state or local governments and their agencies, Indian Tribes, philanthropic entities, or other technical assistance providers (including private firms). DOT will fund at least three of these applicants with cooperative agreements of between $3.5 and $6 million for a two-year period of performance.

The Letter of Interest (LOI) is for communities that want to receive technical assistance for a particular geographic area, which may be state, local, or Tribal governments; United States territories; Metropolitan Planning Organizations; transit agencies; or other political subdivisions of state or local governments. Those selected from the LOI will not receive funding but will instead be paired with technical assistance providers who were selected from the NOFO to receive the technical assistance funded by the cooperative agreements.

Can an eligible applicant apply to both the DOT NOFO and the DOT LOI?

Technically, if an applicant meets eligibility criteria for both the NOFO and the LOI, they could apply for both. The key distinction is that the NOFO application is for applicants who want to provide technical assistance to a national cohort of communities, while the LOI is for applicants who want to receive technical assistance to support their community. Applicants for the NOFO should be able and capable of providing technical assistance to a diverse set of communities located across the country, not just within a single state, metropolitan area, Indian Tribe, United States territory, or local jurisdiction.

Can you define the three Communities of Practice: Main Streets, Connected Neighborhoods, and Networked Communities?

The Main Streets Community of Practice is focused on Tribal and rural communities and the interconnected transportation, housing, community, and economic development issues they face. The Complete Neighborhoods Community of Practice is focused on urban and suburban communities located within metropolitan areas working to better coordinate transportation with land use, housing, and economic development. The Networked Communities Community of Practice is focused on those communities located near ports, airports, freight, and rail facilities to address mobility, access, environmental justice, and economic issues including leveraging their proximity to these facilities for wealth-building and economic development opportunities.

Please refer to Section A.2.b of the NOFO for more details on each of the Communities of Practice.

Does the program only support planning activities?

No. While support in planning efforts is one component of possible technical assistance, other forms of technical assistance include assistance with grant applications, project scoping and pre-development activities, and pre-engineering studies, among other technical issues outlined in the NOFO (see Section A.2.b). As applicable, assistance is also provided through project development, project funding and financing, and project delivery.

Other Technical Assistance Programs

How is DOT’s Thriving Communities Program related to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Thriving Communities Program?

The two are separate programs each with its own NOFO. The two programs share a common vision: supporting jurisdictions in designing and deploying their infrastructure investments in ways that support equitable development and benefit residents and businesses. The DOT and HUD technical assistance programs focus on different components in helping jurisdictions use infrastructure investment to create thriving communities and therefore have different eligibility requirements and rating factors.

Being funded through one NOFO does not make an organization ineligible to being funded by the other. HUD will provide funding to technical assistance providers and Capacity Builders to help jurisdictions consider housing and community development needs as part of transportation infrastructure plans (for example, identifying land that is near planned transportation projects and suitable for housing development). There are other differences between the two NOFOs and programs, including eligibility. HUD and DOT will collaborate on the evaluation of applications and the implementation of both programs.

Can an applicant that is eligible to apply for both DOT’s and HUD’s TCP NOFOs apply to both?

Yes. An applicant that is eligible under DOT’s TCP NOFO and is also eligible under HUD’s TCP NOFO are eligible to apply to both.

Is there a benefit to an applicant to apply to both DOT's and HUD's NOFOs? 

The DOT and the HUD TCP NOFOs each provide separate evaluation criteria for rating individual applications for each agency’s NOFOs. There is not a benefit or disincentive to applying to both. DOT’s evaluation criteria include consideration of how applicants will support comprehensive community development that delivers equity, environmental, safety, mobility, housing, and economic benefits; demonstrates partnerships; and demonstrates an approach to working with DOT and other relevant Federal agencies, including identified regional staff, in providing support to communities and leveraging Federal opportunities.

Will an applicant that applies to both DOT’s and HUD’s NOFOs be required to describe how the two programs they are proposing will work together in their applications?

The DOT and the HUD TCP NOFOs each provide separate evaluation criteria for rating individual applications for each agency’s NOFOs. Each application should be prepared with the understanding that these are separate NOFOs and that if an applicant is awarded under one of the agency’s NOFOs that does not mean they will be awarded under the other agency’s NOFO.

Could the recipients of DOT and HUD’s technical assistance be the same entities?

DOT and HUD’s NOFOs provide information about eligible recipients for the technical assistance from each agency. Local governments, other political subdivisions of a state or territory, and Tribal governments are entities that are eligible to apply for technical assistance from both DOT’s and HUD’s TCP NOFOs. DOT also includes state governments, metropolitan planning organizations, and transit agencies as eligible recipients of technical assistance. Those interested in receiving technical assistance through DOT’s Thriving Communities Program should submit a Letter of Interest.

Will DOT and HUD request that awarded Capacity Builders coordinate their activities for eligible recipients?

The DOT and the HUD programs are separate and distinct from each other but do have a common framework. DOT and HUD coordinated on the design of each of their respective NOFOs and technical assistance programs. This includes discussions of differences, similarities, and areas of potential collaboration for awarded Capacity Builders and the potential collaboration for technical assistance recipients.

How does DOT’s Thriving Communities Program fit into existing Build America Bureau efforts, including the Regional Infrastructure Accelerator program?

The Build America Bureau (Bureau), established at DOT in 2015, works with a wide set of public and private project partners on all types of transportation projects. The Bureau is launching several new technical assistance programs, including the Thriving Communities Program, that supplement existing programs like the Regional Infrastructure Accelerator (RIA). Each has a slightly different focus and types of tools that it provides. The RIA provides funding directly to a regional navigator organization to advance project scoping, development, and assessment of innovative finance tools; while the Thriving Communities Program does not provide direct funding to communities but rather access to technical assistance providers who will provide deep-dive technical assistance, which may include staffing, sub-granting, and other types of direct support.