American Recovery and Reinvestment Act:
Arts Opportunities in the Economic Stimulus Package
April 2009 Update:
Information and Program Instructions
In addition to the economic stimulus funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) available to state arts agencies and arts organizations through the National Endowment for the Arts, possible funding opportunities exist in other federal programs. Most federal agencies have developed their procedures for allocating ARRA funds. Information is available on the process for distributing funds, with most decisions being made at the state and local levels.
Community Development Block Grants (CDBG): The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) has allocated $980 million in CDBG funds to local governments for communities to support “bricks and mortar” funding for a variety of state and municipal projects. Past uses of CDBG funding have included support to local arts organizations. Funds are typically administered through mayors’ community development offices. HUD has identified the state, county and local governments receiving recovery funding. Cities with populations of less than 50,000 receive CDBG funds through their state.
Transportation Enhancements (TE program): The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Highway Administration has apportioned $26.6 billion in recovery funding for the surface transportation program from which at least 3 percent – a minimum of $798 million – is set aside for Transportation Enhancement grants to be administered by state transportation departments. At least half the funds must be obligated by states by June 30, 2009. States place different priorities on 12 general TE activities, including projects such as landscaping design, street furniture, lighting, public art, historic preservation, and gateways. State arts agencies have developed experience working in partnership with state departments of transportation on joint projects funded by the TE program. DOT’s implementing guidance for surface transportation recovery funding includes priorities expected to be considered during selection of projects. The National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse includes additional information about states’ TE projects.
Rural Development: The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Community Facilities (CF) program offers $1.1 billion in direct loans and $61 million in grants to local governments, nonprofit organizations and Indian tribes to develop community facilities “to improve the quality of life for rural residents” in areas and towns with populations up to 20,000. In the past, portions of the CF funding have gone to educational and cultural facilities. (The average CF direct loan in FY 2008 was $665,229.) Loan and grant applications are processed at the local level. In addition, the USDA Rural Development Business Enterprise Grant Program has available $20 million for discretionary competitive grants to help encourage the development of small and emerging private businesses. Funds are awarded through state Rural Development offices for projects such as business revolving loan funds, business incubators, and downtown revitalization projects. The USDA lists its service centers in each state providing additional information and applications materials for Rural Development services.
Elementary and Secondary Education: Local school districts are slated to receive $10 billion in Title I elementary and secondary education funds from ARRA. The U.S. Department of Education has published the allocations available to each state. Title I funds provide financial assistance through state education agencies to local education agencies (LEAs) and public schools with high numbers or percentages of children from low-income families to help ensure that children are able to meet state academic achievement standards. The Department of Education anticipates that ARRA funds allocated under Title I will be used for such activities as: training highly effective teachers to serve as instructional leaders; expanding high-quality Title I pre-K programs to larger numbers of young children; and expanding extended-learning opportunities for Title I-eligible students, including activities provided before school, after school, during the summer, or over an extended school year.
In addition, ARRA appropriates $53.6 billion to a State Fiscal Stabilization Fund to be administered by the U.S. Department of Education for restoring shortfalls in state education funding, including for the use of LEAs. Of that amount, $48.6 billion will be awarded to governors by formula. The remaining $5 billion will be awarded competitively, with $4.35 billion for competitive grants under the “Race to the Top” fund to help states improve student achievement, and $650 million for competitive grants under the “Invest in What Works and Innovation” fund with rewards to LEAs or nonprofit organizations that have made significant gains in closing achievement gaps to serve as models for best practices. As always, federal funds may be used to support arts education, which qualifies as a core academic subject.
Economic Development Assistance: The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) has announced the availability of $150 million to create jobs and boost development in parts of the country hit hard by the recession. Priority consideration will be given to those areas that have experienced sudden and severe economic dislocation and job loss due to corporate restructuring. Funds will be disbursed through EDA’s six regional offices in the form of grants to states, local government entities and eligible non-profits to create jobs and generate private sector investment.
Corporation for National and Community Service: ARRA provides $89 million to AmeriCorps for expanded support for state commissions and national grantees, placing additional volunteers in positions with community-based organizations “in efforts to stimulate the economy and meet the needs of those negatively impacted by the current economic crisis.” Only current AmeriCorps grantees are eligible for ARRA support.
For the VISTA program, ARRA appropriates $65 million to place some 3,000 volunteers in such projects as nonprofit capacity building, employment and skills training, volunteer generation and management, and financial planning.
National Park Service: Plans are still being developed by the National Park Service on the allocation of the $750 million appropriated by ARRA. Funds will be used to preserve and protect national icons and historic landscapes, improve energy efficiency and renewable energy use at park units, and provide historic preservation funding to protect and restore buildings at historically black colleges.
Job Training and Employment Services: The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration has issued detailed guidance on the allocation and uses of ARRA funding to support job training through formula grants to states for adult, dislocated worker, and youth services.