Apply for the IIJA: 6 Broadband, Cyber, and Other Program Grants

about the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA)
Have you heard about the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act IIJA, but you aren’t sure what each section covers? Are you creating a plan for your community, and do you need more information about the broadband and cybersecurity competitive and formula funding grants? For many months, people constantly heard about the $65 billion for broadband and billions more for other infrastructure needs. Now that it’s law, it’s time to start thinking about and preparing for what this means for state and local governments. Continue reading below to learn more about the several available broadband, cyber, and other program grants and how you can get your application noticed. 

What Is the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act IIJA?

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the IIJA, is a $1.2 trillion spending bill that will help local and state governments rebuild bridges, rails, and roads, provide high-speed internet access, and expand the electric vehicle network. The bill also intends to address the climate crisis and invest in underserved communities. 

Broadband Infrastructure Funding Programs

The IIJA approved $65 billion to help expand access to high-speed internet for every American. Their primary focus is to help rural areas have better access to the internet and other underserved communities. 

1. ReConnect Program

There are six competitive infrastructure opportunities for cyber, broadband, and other program applications. One of those programs is the ReConnect Program, which provides $2 billion in loans for projects that offer high-speed internet in rural areas. Applications for this program will open in the 3rd quarter of this year. 

2. State and Local Cybersecurity Grant Program

This new one billion dollar program provides tribal, local, and state governments with funds to address cybersecurity threats and risks. Applications for this program are expected to open in the third quarter of this year. 

3. Middle Mile Grant Program

This new program at the Department of Commerce offers grants to improve or acquire middle-mile broadband infrastructure. Applications for this one billion dollar program will open in the second quarter of 2022. This program aims to expand middle mile infrastructure to reduce the cost of connecting underserved areas to the internet. Applicants eligible for this program include nonprofit institutions, nonprofit foundations, and nonprofit associations.  Additional groups eligible to apply for this program:
  • Regional planning councils
  • Native entities
  • Economic development authorities
  • Technology companies
  • Tribal governments
There are several other organizations that can apply for this program, including telecommunication companies, political subdivisions of a State, and economic development authorities. 

4. Water and Groundwater Storage and Conveyance

This program already exists through the Department of Interior, and it provides projects to convey water to or from groundwater storage or surface water storage. It also provides funds for water storage projects with upwards of 28,000 acre-feet capacities. Applications open in the Spring of 2022.

5. Smart Grid Investment Grant Program

There are two programs through the Department of Energy called the energy sector operational support for cyber resilience and the one listed in the title: smart grid investment grant program. The two will collectively provide state and local governments with approximately $3.5 billion for electric utilities, modernize the electricity grid, and increase resilience to cyber security threats. Applications for the smart grid program most likely won’t open until the end of the year, whereas the cyber resilience program application starts in the Summer of 2022. 

6. Emergency Watershed Protection Program

A severe natural disaster event happens at least once every year. Tornados flatten homes and deposit debris in local drainage ditches and creeks. Wildfires destroy trees and vegetation, leaving the soil exposed to heavy rainfall. These disasters have the potential to wreak havoc on local communities. To help with that problem, this program is set to provide $300 million in financial and technical assistance to help create and put measures in place to help repair damages done after a recent disaster. 

IIJA Formula Grants

Through the IIJA, there are formula grants and competitive grants. As you guessed, competitive grants are approved based on the program’s selection criteria. You still need to apply for a formula grant and meet specific requirements, but you don’t have to compete for funding. Your state’s administering agency will have more information on how they plan to distribute their funds.

IIJA Formula Grants per State

Each state has its breakdown of formula funds by the program. For example, if you are in Texas, the transportation funding bill is set to be around $3.3 billion, and EVs have approximately $408 million in formula funding. There is also the change to apply for the $2.5 billion in grant funding for the electric vehicle network.  Texas breakdown of formula funding:
  • Resilience: $42 million for cybersecurity, $53 million for wildlife 
  • Airports: $1.2 billion
  • Roads and bridges: $537 million for bridges and $26.9 billion for highways
  • Broadband: $100 million
It is important to note that this is just the formula funding for Texas; each state will receive a different amount of funding per category. You can take a look at the available grant funds per state here

IIJA Grant Programs Through NTIA

The NTIA, also known as the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, administers grants that further the use and deployment of broadband and other essential technologies in the United States. They lay the groundwork for improved education, sustainable economic growth, health care and public safety improvements, and the advancement of other critical national priorities. 

BEAD Program

Broadband equity, access, and deployment, also known as BEAD, provides forty-two billion dollars for broadband adoption, deployment, and mapping projects. Each state, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia will receive an initial sum of one hundred million dollars to support planning efforts, including building capacity in broadband offices in coordination with local communities. This 100 million is equally divided among Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, US Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.  Those who choose to leverage the first 100 million provided will need to submit a five-year action plan. The remaining funds will be distributed based on formula funding. This formula funding will consider the number of high-cost and unserved locations in the state. The priority will be in unserved areas. 

The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program

Under the consolidated appropriations Act in 2021, the NTIA implemented a program dedicated to broadband deployment on tribal lands. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act IIJA adds an additional $2 billion to this program to help increase broadband development and update broadband affordability, telehealth, and distance learning. 

Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program

The Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program directs $268 million to Minority-Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities to purchase eligible broadband internet equipment and access services. It also allows them to use the funds to train or hire information technology personnel. 

Improving Chances of Winning Competitive Grant Funding

You can take several different steps to increase your chances of winning competitive grant funding, such as establishing relationships with regional offices of key federal agencies. Connecting with them will help tremendously because these agencies can provide technical assistance and direct you to the right resources. 

Develop a Project Pipeline

Another way to increase your chances of winnings is to prioritize your capital needs and develop a project pipeline. You may want to look over projects previously deemed impossible to complete or execute because of a lack of funding or coordination. 

White House Guidebook

The IIJA bill provides funding for all different types of infrastructure, so there are plenty of other competitive grants you can apply for. You can use the White House’s guidebook to identify the right federal funding streams to focus on correctly. 

Timeline for IIJA Fund Distribution

In the first quarter of 2022, federal agencies are set to publish new rules and regulations for new federal funding programs and grants. They will also start providing funds through already existing programs and grants.  Within the first half of the year, RFPs for state and federal contracts for infrastructure work start. Federal agencies will announce winners by the summer of 2022. 

Win Competitive Grant Funding With Ease

With the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, IIJA, signed into law, there are many different ways state and local governments can use these funds to make good on what the IIJA bill promises. Ensuring that your underserved and unserved communities have access to the internet will help them have better access to remote working opportunities and better connectivity for long-distance learning. Contact us today if you are in the planning phase and need help creating the best proposal to get the funds your community deserves. ACG Advocacy is a premier bipartisan government affair and strategic consulting firm. We’ve successfully advised several Fortune Global 500 nonprofit organizations, corporations, municipalities, and states. 
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