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Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods (RCN) Program

  • Granting Agency: U.S. Dept. of Transportation
  • Appropriation Amount: $198,000,000
  • Grant Amount:  $50,000,000 for Community Planning Grants, $148,000,000 for Capital Construction Grants
  • Announcement Date: July 5, 2023
  • Closing Date: September 28, 2023

The purposes of the RCN Program are 1) to advance community-centered transportation connection projects, with a priority for projects that benefit disadvantaged communities, that improve access to daily needs such as jobs, education, healthcare, food, nature, and recreation, and foster equitable development and restoration, and 2) to provide technical assistance to further these goals. The RCP Program provides technical assistance and grant funding for planning and capital construction to address infrastructure barriers, restore community connectivity, and improve people’s lives.

Read the NOFO here.

RCN Program Grant Types and Deliverables:
The RCN Program provides funding for three types of grants.: Community Planning Grants, Capital Construction Grants, and Regional Partnerships Challenge Grants. If eligible, awarded applications may receive funding from one or both funding programs, RCP and NAE.

• Community Planning Grants will award RCP and/or NAE funding for planning activities for future construction projects and allow for innovative community planning to address localized transportation challenges.
• Capital Construction Grants will award RCP and/or NAE funding to carry out a project to remove, retrofit, mitigate, or replace an existing eligible dividing transportation facility with a new facility that reconnects communities; mitigates a burdening transportation facility that is a source of air pollution, noise, stormwater, heat, or other burdens; or implements a strategy to reduce environmental harm and/or improve access through transportation improvements.
• Regional Partnerships Challenge Grants will award NAE funding to a project led by two or more eligible applicants to address a persistent regional challenge related to equitable access and mobility. Eligible activities for Regional Partnerships Challenge Grants are the same as those listed under Capital Construction and Community Planning Grants but must have a regional focus, and clearly demonstrate regional coordination and leveraging of local, State, and Federal resources and policies. See Section C for further eligibility information.

Changes from the FY 2022 RCP NOFO
The RCP Program’s inaugural year occurred in FY 2022 after its creation in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), while NAE is a new program created by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Applicants planning to reapply using materials prepared for the FY 2022 RCP Program should ensure that their FY 2023 application fully addresses the criteria and considerations described in this notice and that all relevant information is up to date.

Applications are submitted through Valid Eval instead of The application structure for the key information table questions and other application submission details has been standardized through Valid Eval.

The FY 2023 RCN Program includes an updated definition of an economically disadvantaged community, with applicants encouraged to use Climate & Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST),13 a tool created by the White House Council on Environmental Quality, that helps Federal agencies identify disadvantaged communities as part of the Justice40 initiative to accomplish the goal that 40% of overall benefits from certain federal investment flow to disadvantaged communities. Applicants should use CEJST as the primary tool to identify disadvantaged communities (Justice40 communities). Applicants are strongly encouraged to use
the USDOT Equitable Transportation Community (ETC) Explorer to understand how their community or project area is experiencing disadvantage related to lack of transportation investments or opportunities. Through understanding how a community or project area is experiencing transportation-related disadvantage, applicants are able to address how the benefits of a project will reverse or mitigate the burdens of disadvantage and demonstrate how the project will address challenges and accrued benefits. See Section H.1. Definitions for more information.

The FY 2023 RCN Program uses the term Community Planning Grants instead of Planning Grants, as in the FY 2022 RCP Program.

The FY 2023 RCN Program will be evaluated under common project outcome criteria (formally labeled in FY 2022 as “merit criteria”) that apply to both the RCP Program and NAE Program within the RCN Program, as described in Section E. The common project outcome criteria retain similar concepts from the FY 2022 RCP merit criteria but are separated into more specific criteria and include additional considerations from the NAE Program.

Eligible Applicants:

RCP and NAE have different statutory rules for determining applicant eligibility. Applicants should review this section to determine their grant type eligibility.

RCP – Community Planning Grants:
1. a State;
2. a unit of local government;
3. a Tribal government;
4. a Metropolitan Planning Organization; or
5. a non-profit organization.

RCP – Capital Construction Grants:
1. owner(s) of the eligible facility proposed in the project for which all necessary feasibility studies and other planning activities have been completed; or
2. a partnership between a facility owner (#1 above) and any eligible RCP Community Planning Grant applicant.
1. a State or territory of the United States;

NAE – Community Planning, Capital Construction, and Regional Partnerships Challenge Grants:
1. a State or territory of the United States;
2. a unit of local government;
3. a political subdivision of a State;
4. a Tribal government;
5. a special purpose district or public authority with a transportation function;
6. a Metropolitan Planning Organization; or
7. a nonprofit organization or institution of higher education that has entered into a partnership with an eligible entity (#1-6 above) and is applying for a grant for planning and
capacity building activities in disadvantaged or underserved communities.

Cost Sharing and Matching

RCP – Community Planning Grants: 80% RCP funds, 20% local match

RCP – Capital Construction Grants: 50% RCP funds, 50% local match – Other Federal funds may be used to bring the total Federal share up to a maximum of 80% of the total cost of the project

NAE – Community Planning, Capital Construction, and Regional Partnerships Challenge Grants: 80% NAE funds, 20% local match – Projects in a disadvantaged or underserved community do not require a local match