Livability Solutions provides free technical assistance workshops to between 6 and 12 communities around the country each year, made possible through a grant to Project for Public Spaces from the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Sustainable Communities under their Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program.
About Our Free Technical Assistance
One of our experienced coalition members will work to design a 1-2 day site visit and workshop with you, focused on one or more of our unique suite of livability tools. Workshops are intended to provide communities with strategies to enhance livability, to create lasting economic and environmental improvements, and to effect positive change for residents, businesses, and others. We focus on communities with specific opportunities to reach a tipping point or to overcome a significant hurdle in order to achieve progress on a specific sustainable communities project or initiative. Each community receives a short findings and recommendations report following the technical assistance.
How can I apply?
Sign up to subscribe to Livability Solutions updates, which will include the release of the next round of free technical assistance. This technical assistance is designed to serve local and/or tribal governments. Any local, regional, state, or tribal government, or agency or subdivision thereof, or community-based organization working in close conjunction with any such division of government may apply.
To apply for free technical assistance, applicants must:
- Complete the online application
- Obtain signed letter(s) of commitment from 1 to 3 relevant local elected officials or heads of local government agencies
Candidates will be evaluated by a selection committee on the basis of the criteria described below, and all candidates will be notified about the results of their application in January.
Primary selection criteria
Clarity and capability to achieve candidate project or initiative (20%): Candidates are asked to identify a project or initiative that could reach a tipping point with this EPA-funded technical assistance. The candidate should identify one or more issues that they are currently facing in the development of a policy or project, and where the right technical assistance can lead to substantial and meaningful progress. The existence of a clear project or initiative to address and the candidate’s readiness and capability to act on the assistance provided will be considered.
Demonstrated interest or initiative in livability, smart growth, or sustainability (20%): We are looking for communities with a strong interest in and commitment to livability, smart growth, and sustainability principles that are facing a significant challenge or barrier to moving forward. Successful candidates will illustrate past and present activities working toward livability, smart growth, and sustainability that have hit some type of roadblock. Possible indicators of commitment and capability might include, but are not limited to: policies enabling or requiring smart growth considerations in both public and private sector projects; comprehensive plan language that recognizes the need for smart growth; draft bicycle or pedestrian plans; a political commitment to reducing vehicle miles traveled and greenhouse gas emissions; policies illustrating a commitment to transportation equity and environmental justice; use of growth boundaries; recent summits on growth, development, and/or transportation; or similar activities.
Magnitude of need (20%): Candidates will be evaluated regarding the nature and magnitude of their expressed needs.
Demonstrated commitment to public engagement (20%): Community commitment and participation is critical to livability and sustainability success. Successful candidates will have demonstrated a track record and commitment to including a broad spectrum of the community in their planning and/ or development process including people of all ages, abilities, economic conditions, and ethnicities. This demonstration of commitment to public engagement could be expressed in the form of policies on public engagement; past examples; or stated commitments from a mayor, council members, or agency heads.
Demonstration of partnering capability and stakeholder interest (20%): Successful candidates will illustrate that they are willing to work across agencies or departments to improve capacity for smart growth and sustainable change. Working with community-based organizations, the business community, business improvement districts, local chambers of commerce, health professionals/medical community, public health practitioners, and other appropriate partners will be considered an asset.
Community diversity: In order to ensure that the communities selected represent a range of community scales and demographics, we will ensure that each of the following categories is represented among the selected communities:
- Rural/Small Town (less than 15,000 population)
- Suburban/Medium City (15,000 – 100,000 population)
- Large City / Metro (>100,000 population)
In addition, to ensure that this assistance successfully reaches communities that may not have the capacity to provide as thorough applications as communities with more resources, 30% of the assistance will be targeted to low resource communities with one or more of the following characteristics:
- There are high rates of poverty (more than 20% of households are at or below the federal poverty threshold, or the median household income is at 70% or less of the national average).
- There are high rates of unemployment (unemployment rates are greater than the national average).
- Residents face a disproportionate level of environmental degradation, social inequity, historic underrepresentation, economic stagnation, and/or recent economic disruption (e.g., closure of major plants or businesses, resulting in significant local job loss).
- A relatively high percentage of the population pays more than 45% of household income on combined housing and transportation costs.
- A high percentage (greater than 15%) of households are not foodsecure.
Geographic diversity: We also intend that this technical assistance reach communities of different sizes across the United States and we will strive to select a geographically diverse group of communities.
Potential for leveraging: The existence of additional commitment, funding, and/or in-kind support to the proposed project or initiative from a public or private sector partner or a local foundation, which can add value to the EPA-funded assistance by supporting follow-up plans or implementation, will be considered a plus.
Prior receipt of federal sustainable communities technical assistance: One intention of this technical assistance is to increase the reach and impact of livability and sustainability solutions. Past and current provision of assistance will be taken into account. That a community is receiving or has received additional technical assistance from the EPA, or other sources, does not mean that it is ineligible. It simply means that the community will need to illustrate how the technical assistance they are requesting from Livability Solutions will complement the other assistance they received before, currently have, or are applying for.