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Life after the Recovery Act: Where will grant funding go from here?

Jun 15

Written by: Grants Office, LLC
Tuesday, June 15, 2010  RssIcon

By Susannah Mayhall
June 2010 (GO Know)

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 infused an unprecedented sum of public funding into the struggling American economy, making over $700 billion available for education, healthcare, public safety, and more. The Recovery Act bolstered support for new initiatives such as broadband infrastructure and energy efficiency. These massive amounts of funding produced a flurry of interest from various private sector industries, all hoping to become involved and receive their share of the stimulus.

Over a year later, some of the excitement seems to have dwindled; many ARRA grant programs have come and gone, some are winding down, and only a small pocket of funding has yet to be released. For many of us, the apparent end of the Recovery Act programs leaves questions hovering in the grant funding world: Where will we go from here? Is the stimulus over? Will any of these programs receive continued support, or were they truly one-off opportunities? Will there be a second Recovery Act?

While a full-fledged "second Recovery Act" is not expected in the near future, we have already seen encouraging signs that the opportunities crafted by the ARRA will find a home in the annual funding distributed by the twenty-six federal grant-making agencies. Beyond outlining trends for future federal grant funding practices, the Recovery Act's reach has begun to manifest itself in the annual grants landscape.

In the field of education, the historic Race to the Top program has been targeted for renewal in 2011. Additionally, the $650 million Investing in Innovation (i3) program has inspired the collaboration of 12 private foundations, bringing an additional $500 million to the program's efforts to improve our public schools and encourage innovative educational models. This unprecedented public/private partnership may be the start of a funding trend in years to come. In healthcare, the Primary Care Training and Enhancement Program, a medical training program initially authorized by the Recovery Act, has been reinstituted through 2014 by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) of 2010. These case studies serve as examples of the ways in which the influence of the Recovery Act will continue long after the last dollar appropriated through its legislation has been distributed.

In addition to introducing new programs that have now been reauthorized for annual budgets, the Recovery Act also animated existing programs that lacked funding prior to the ARRA but will likely be continued in the future. One such example is the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program. Although authorized in 2007, the program did not receive funding until the 2009 Recovery Act. However, now that wide-reaching energy efficiency grant programs have been successfully implemented on the federal level, we anticipate this field to continue to grow as a funding priority over the next few years.

These small but significant signs of new life serve to corroborate the assertion that the Recovery Act's influence will continue in future years. Although much of the $787 billion stimulus monolith has already been doled out, now is the time to continue riding the momentum created by the Recovery Act by actively tracking and pursuing the $400 billion-plus reality of annual grant program funding.

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