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Platform launched to ease access to $107B in federal funds

The Liga de Ciudades de Puerto Rico has unveiled a federal funds navigator, a web platform designed to facilitate municipalities’ access to funding opportunities provided by the Investment in Infrastructure and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). 

The tool aims to simplify the process of accessing more than $107 billion available for climate change and infrastructure projects across all U.S. jurisdictions, including Puerto Rico.

The website is open to all municipalities and nonprofit organizations on the island, offering an efficient way to explore competitive federal funding sources.

Cristina Miranda-Palacios, the founding director of Liga de Ciudades de Puerto, said: “Historically, and despite being eligible, we are one of the territories that requests the least funds” due to the “overwhelming and complex” nature of navigating federal agencies, especially “for small municipal teams with limited resources.”

“Jurisdictions with greater resources and experience in managing these spaces are more successful in obtaining funding. The navigator will allow our municipalities and communities to directly access these opportunities and compete with other cities on a similar playing field,” she said.

Miranda-Palacios said the funds are intended for projects that address climate change and infrastructure needs.

“We are trying to bridge the gap so municipal governments can access federal funds that are not managed by the central government,” she added.

The Liga de Ciudades allocated $142,000 to develop the tool, which provides access to 146 federal funding sources for initiatives such as transportation infrastructure, renewable energy and climate justice.

Among the agencies that have allocated the most funds to Puerto Rico include the U.S. Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency, with the total eligible amount being six times the budget approved by the Puerto Rico Financial Oversight and Management Board for fiscal year 2024.

Unlike other funding search portals, this navigator includes unique features like a readiness questionnaire to evaluate the viability of applications and the ability to save in-progress applications.

The tool was developed by HR&A, an American consulting firm experienced in such initiatives, drawing inspiration from a similar project in Pittsburgh.

“By simplifying the search processes, identifying opportunities and submitting proposals, we see an increase in the applicants’ opportunities to obtain the grants they need to manage their projects and their aims to become resilient communities,” said Edgar Gómez, Liga de Ciudades’ chief operating officer.

The navigator can be accessed on the Liga’s website and is free for the island’s 78 municipalities and the nonprofits working with them. The Liga plans periodic updates “to respond to changes in funds and any other adjustments in programs,” as well as translation into Spanish 

In December, the Liga launched the Municipal Innovation Laboratory to provide training and technical assistance for optimizing municipal governance. Aguada, Barceloneta, Gurabo, Hormigueros, and Florida are participating and will receive guidance on using the Navigator.

“At the Liga, we will continue identifying and developing initiatives that promote the evolution of our local governments and the large-scale transformation of Puerto Rico, starting from our municipalities,” Miranda-Palacios emphasized. 

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