Federal Recovery Act Funding for Local Programs


Local Programs

Local Programs refer to a variety of initiatives that support local residents and communities in areas of civic infrastructure, public safety, job creation and community health. These local programs often leverage federal resources in partnership with private, philanthropic and civic sector partners to achieve results. Examples of local programs can be found on the Local Government ARPA Investment Tracker (LGAIT), developed jointly by Brookings Metro, the National League of Cities, and the National Association of Counties; and the COVID-19 Local Service Accelerator dashboard, also created by the LGAIT team.

Local governments are using federal Recovery Act dollars to build community capacity through local AmeriCorps-based service programs that are focused on addressing local needs and priorities identified by the communities themselves, and to help them build the civic infrastructure they need to thrive. This includes local conservation corps modeled after the Civilian Conservation Corps and other climate-oriented projects; literacy projects, such as reading clubs for children in public schools and adult education programs; community gardens that promote healthy eating; and other initiatives focused on promoting social connectedness and increasing access to resources.

Another key strategy for leveraging federal resources to address local challenges is local economic development programs. These can range from a simple business development loan to support a small business or a more complex blight mitigation plan that might involve tools like condemnation or eminent domain. For example, a new initiative in Seattle pairs local government employees with consultants to work with business owners on developing business plans and connecting them to local resources.

The term “local programming” is used in some countries to describe the locally produced content on television and radio. In the United States, local programming is most often referred to in connection with local newscasts on broadcast television stations. In Canada, the term has historically been used to refer to locally or regionally oriented talk shows and entertainment programs such as Tiny Talent Time or Homegrown Cafe.

Ultimately, the local programs that are most effective in addressing local issues and building community capacity are those that combine multiple efforts from the private, civic, public and nonprofit sectors. This is the approach that has proven successful in places like Flint, Michigan, where the City of Detroit and local organizations partnered to scale a national service program to address the underlying causes of high rates of youth employment and crime. The city’s innovative place-based model has now expanded nationally and is a case study in the use of flexible Recovery Act funds to support service-based solutions for local challenges.

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