Don’t It Make Your Brownfields Green

The 10-point Reduction of Threats to Human Health and the Environment criterion asks you to explain how you plan to use up to 10 percent of the grant to identify health and environment threats.

Local and regional health departments are excellent resources for preparing your strategy. Ask these experts for studies related to health concerns in your area. If possible, outline your cleanup plan in detail and discuss the operation and maintenance plan. It’s important that the state or tribal environmental authority are aware of and involved in your plans.

Applicants can demonstrate their community’s acceptance of and enthusiasm for the project if they are able to show plans for non-EPA funds that will be allocated to the clean-up effort.

Your opportunity to showcase this commitment comes in the next criterion, Leveraging of Additional Resources, worth 15 points. This is your opportunity to provide a basis for why funding is necessary and what role you will take in securing additional money for the project. Identify where and how non-EPA funds will be committed to this project, and be sure to distinguish which of these funds are from local sources.

Your past experience with grant management is an important part of the application. Your chance to demonstrate your resume of past grant management and budget stewardship experience comes in the final criterion, Ability to Manage Grants, worth 10 points.

Use this section to summarize all relevant experience in grant management, and the provisions you have taken to ensure that the work is managed properly. The results of your most recent audit can easily address OMB Circular A-133 and A-102 concerns. If you are a current or past EPA grant recipient, provide current financial and accomplishment data on the status of your project.

Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) Program

This program offers an initial grant of up to $1 million, and allows for a 5-year program. However, there are several requirements and restrictions that apply to this type of funding.

For example, a RLF grant recipient cannot make a cleanup subgrant exceeding $200,000 per site, and 20 percent of the cost-share requirement must include the contribution of money, services, material or labor. The match cannot be used to offset administrative costs such as salaries, benefits, contractual costs, supplies and data processing charges.

Threshold Criteria

The criteria for the RLF are the same as those required by the Brownfields Assessment Grant, with the addition of a few criteria:

Cleanup Authority and Oversight Structure

This criterion asks who will provide clean-up oversight. Be as exhaustive and detailed as possible. At a minimum, you must detail whether or not enrollment in a VCP is part of your strategy; how you will ensure that the cleanup will provide protection for the environment and human health; and what legal authority you have to access and secure sites in the event of an emergency.

Cost Share

You will be asked to outline all eligible forms of cost sharing for your project. Remember that you must meet the 20 percent minimum. Eligible forms of cost sharing include fees from borrowers, interest on loans and other forms of program income; or contributions of money, labor, material or services from a non-federal source.

Legal Authority to Manage an RLF

A simple letter from your legal counsel will be sufficient to prove this authority.

Ranking Criteria

Ranking criteria for the RLF are very similar to the BAG. Therefore, you will find the tips outlined above helpful for both grant applications.

However, there are some differences in how the EPA evaluates the budget criterion in the RLF proposals, and there is an additional criterion, the Description of Target Market and Business Plan that will require your attention.

Budget (10 points): Your preliminary budget should show that tasks for loans make up 60 percent of the funds requested and subgrants constitute up to 40 percent of the budget. But keep in mind that the subgrants cannot exceed $200,000 for each site.

For each proposed subgrant, be sure that you are including the tasks that the recipients of these funds will be responsible for completing. Up to 10 percent of the budget should be allocated for the monitoring of environment or health threats.

Don’t forget to allocate some of the funds to the most obvious tasks, such as establishing the RLF, promoting the program, and making and servicing loans.

Description of Target Market and Business Plan for RLF Loans and Subgrants (20 points): Clearly define your target markets, whether that be an inner-city neighborhood, an industrial area impacting a residential neighborhood, or an abandoned industrial or commercial site. Once the market is clearly defined, your next step is to prove that you have a distinct plan of action for involving as many people and organizations

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