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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities

What is the difference between the EPA-led Building Blocks assistance and grantee-led Building Blocks assistance?

The type of community engagement and mehod delivery are similar for both types of assistance. Following are the key differences:

  1. Who is in the lead: EPA-led Building Blocks assistance is offered and directed by EPA, while grantee-led assistance is offered independently by several nonprofit organizations, each of which has received a grant from EPA to support independent technical assistance programs.
  2. The tools offered: The kinds of assistance available vary depending on the organization providing the assistance.
  3. When and how to apply: The application process, selection criteria, and schedules governing when applications are accepted vary depending on whether the assistance is offered directly by EPA or by one of the nonprofit organizations.
  4. The experts: The team of experts also varies depending on which organization provides the assistance.

When are applications due?

See the Building Blocks home page for specific deadlines. Applications are accepted only for open solicitations and are due on the specific date noted by EPA or the EPA grantee. Application processes and deadlines vary depending on which organization provides the assistance.

Who can apply for Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities?

For direct assistance from EPA, the applicant must have the support of the local government, regional entity, or community-based organization on behalf of which they are applying. Letters must be signed by a mayor, city manager, elected official, or other official representative of the community. Applicants are not confined to local governments.

Applicants must be located in, and project activities must be conducted within, the United States, Puerto Rico, or a territory or possession of the United States. Regional councils of governments are encouraged to learn about the program, especially in selected communities, but the assistance is directed toward one jurisdiction.

To learn about eligibility requirements for grantee-led assistance, please contact those organizations directly.

Is Building Blocks technical assistance a grant to the receiving community?

No. EPA provides direct assistance through a federal contract; therefore, no funds are transferred to the community. Selected communities receive assistance in the form of a 1- to 2-day visit from a team of national experts in disciplines that match the community's unique needs.

Assistance from the grantees is provided under an EPA grant to each of those organizations; they in turn provide services directly to selected communities.

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What does EPA look for in Letters of Interest?

The Request for Letters of Interest (RFLI) will describe the evaluation criteria in detail. Briefly:

Can I request assistance for more than one tool?

For EPA-led assistance, an applicant may request assistance for multiple tools; however, each request must be submitted as a separate letter of interest (that is, one tool per letter). It is advisable to focus on one or two tools in total and make the best case for why this assistance will have an impact in the community. For grantee-led assistance, each organization has its own requirements for tool requests; please contact these organizations directly for additional information.

How do I submit an application?

For direct assistance from EPA, please follow the instructions on how to submit an application in the Request for Letters of Interest. If you have questions, contact Sarah Dale (dale.sarah@epa.gov).

For grantee-led assistance, please contact these organizations directly.

Can I apply for EPA-led assistance and for grantee-led assistance?

Yes, communities can apply for EPA-led assistance and for grantee-led assistance. In some cases, EPA and a grantee offer similar tools or the same tool. In these cases, a community is able to apply for assistance for both of these tools for the same project idea.

What is the size consideration for "small town/rural"?

For EPA-led assistance, "small town/rural" is a community with a population of 20,000 or less.

How long are the next steps memos?

Next-step memos prepared by EPA are usually 6 to 8 pages in length.

The length of next-steps memos developed through grantee-led assistance varies depending on the organization and the type of assistance provided. Many of these organizations provide copies of their next-steps memos on their websites.

Where can I find more information?

For more information about the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program:

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