FEMA Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) Grant Program
The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant program is designed to support state, territorial, and local governments and federally recognized tribes in their efforts to undertake hazard mitigation projects to reduce risks stemming from natural hazards and disasters. BRIC funding is available on an annual basis in states that have received a presidential disaster declaration in the past seven years from the date when FEMA issues a Notice of Funding Opportunity. The purpose of the BRIC grant program is to provide a consistent, sustainable source of federal pre-disaster funding to shift the focus away from post-disaster recovery spending by building community resilience before future hazards and disasters occur. The BRIC program replaced FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation grant program that served a similar purpose, but was administered differently and was not prescribed by Congress to be available on an annual basis.
FEMA announced a new round of funding for Fiscal Year 2021 totaling $1.6 billion. The application period for new funding opens on September 30, 2021 and closes on January 28, 2022 at 3:00 P.M. ET. Of note, eligible state and local grantees should check with their State Hazard Mitigation Offices or departments to inquire whether there are additional requirements or earlier deadlines for project proposals or applications set by their own states that may differ from the federal deadlines.
This round of funding aligns with the environmental justice mandates of federal Executive Order 14008 by incorporating metrics that prioritize assistance in disadvantaged communities. Economically disadvantaged rural areas are eligible for a higher federal cost share on projects (90 percent federal, instead of 25 percent), and projects can earn extra consideration for providing community-wide benefits to disadvantaged communities.
Purpose: Through the BRIC program, FEMA is enhancing the amount and consistency of pre-disaster funding available to increase resilience within communities and attempt to mitigate hazards before they occur.
Eligible Uses: BRIC funds can be used for "capability- and capacity-building" activities (i.e., building codes activities, partnerships, project scoping, and planning and planning-related activities), hazard mitigation projects, and project management costs. FEMA can also fund projects that utilize innovative project designs and/or partnerships. To be eligible for BRIC funding, projects must:
- be cost-effective (according to FEMA’s Benefit-Cost Analysis requirements);
- decrease risk and impacts of future potential natural hazards;
- meet the 2015 or 2018 International Building Codes;
- be consistent with the applicant's FEMA-approved hazard mitigation plans; and
- satisfy historic preservation and environmental compliance requirements.
Potential Adaptation Uses: BRIC funding can be used to fund capability- and capacity-building activities and projects related to hazard mitigation and climate adaptation. For example, BRIC funding can be used to increase building standards to make structures and assets more resilient to climate change and disaster events (e.g., retrofitting hospitals for hurricane preparedness) or to implement nature-based solutions to mitigate flood risk and produce community and ecosystem benefits (e.g., voluntary floodplain buyouts). Additionally, BRIC grants for "capability- and capacity-building" activities can be used to incorporate climate considerations into hazard mitigation plans and/or to complement the development of climate adaptation plans or project-specific plans. Further, FEMA's priority of implementing nature-based solutions in BRIC funded projects is particularly noteworthy.
Eligible Grantees: Under the BRIC program, FEMA classifies eligible grantees as either an “applicant,” or “subapplicant.” The biggest difference between the two is that only applicants can submit an application directly to FEMA. Subapplicants must work with an applicant to have their projects included as part of an application to FEMA. Specifically, states, territories, and federally recognized tribal governments are funding applicants, while state, territorial, and tribal agencies and local governments are subapplicants. Subapplicants can apply for BRIC funding through their respective state, territory, or federally recognized tribal government applicants.
To be eligible, applicants must be within a state or territory that has received a presidential disaster declaration within seven years preceding the date the grant application opens. Additionally, both applicants and subapplicants must have FEMA-approved hazard mitigation plans before the application deadline.
Types of Funding Available and Cost-Share Requirements: The BRIC program is funded through a six percent set-aside from certain post-disaster funding amounts allocated by Congress following each year’s disaster season. FEMA divides the total amount of BRIC funding into two pots: a mandatory “set aside” divided equally among all eligible applicants, and a larger amount of money available through a competitive process.
First, FEMA has set aside maximum allocations for states, territories, and federally recognized tribes1 to implement projects these primary applicants identify as a priority. The set-aside can be used for "capability- and capacity-building" activities.
Second, the majority of the annual BRIC funding is available through the National Competition for Mitigation Projects. Projects submitted through the National Competition are scored by FEMA and other stakeholders under both a technical and qualitative evaluation to prioritize the projects that will be awarded. The technical and qualitative reviews allow subapplicants to highlight the elements of their proposed projects that could meet FEMA priorities (e.g., projects that incorporate nature-based solutions) and the value of the project to a community. Additionally, FEMA prioritizes projects that mitigate risk to one or more community "lifelines." FEMA defines lifelines as services that enable the continual operation of critical business and community structures.2
For FEMA projects awarded through the National Competition, the cost share is 75 percent federal and 25 percent state/territorial/tribal/local. The local match can be met through cash, in-kind services, or materials. The BRIC program provides increased cost share (i.e., 90 percent federal and 10 percent state/territorial/tribal/local) for smaller, less-resourced communities and waives the local match requirement for certain applicants and projects.3 Further, FEMA will pay pre-award costs incurred through developing the grant application or subapplication for applicants receiving grant funding.
Additionally, in Fiscal Year 2021, through a pilot program, FEMA is offering BRIC Direct Technical Assistance to as many as ten communities to provide non-financial support for the communities' project, application, and resilience needs. FEMA hopes to be able to expand this program and continue offering similar support in future years to grow capacity.
Process to Apply for BRIC Funding: To apply for funding, the applicant and subapplicants within a state, territory, or tribe must complete subapplications for each individual project. Then, a state’s hazard mitigation office or department is responsible for compiling all subapplications into a single grant application that will be submitted to FEMA. Applicants rank and prioritize each subapplication within the larger application to FEMA.
Subapplicants (e.g., state, territorial, and tribal agencies, local governments) interested in submitting a project for consideration should check with their state hazard mitigation offices early (i.e., when FEMA publishes the BRIC Notice of Funding Opportunity) to identify whether there are any state-created requirements, in addition to FEMA's requirements. For example, some states set their own project assessment deadlines in advance of FEMA's funding deadline to determine which projects will be included in the state's grant application. This will help to ensure that state, territorial, and tribal agencies and local governments do not miss out on the opportunity to apply for BRIC funding in their area.
Authorization: BRIC is authorized under Section 203 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, as amended by the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018, 42 U.S.C. § 5133.
Publication Date: August 2020
- Funding program
1. For FY2021, FEMA has set aside approximately $1 million per state, territory, and federally recognized tribe.
2. Among other things, lifelines can include safety and security; food, water, and shelter; hospitals; and transportation.
3. Specifically, for "insular areas," such as Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands, FEMA will waive the local-match requirement when the local-match for the entire project is under $200,000.