Grants to West Virginia nonprofit organizations, public agencies, colleges, universities, and regional planning and development councils for community and economic development activities. Areas of emphasis include economic opportunity, infrastructure, human resources development, local capacity, health care, energy efficiency, local food systems, downtown improvements, creative communities, environmental assets, and community foundations.
For Year 17, all counties in West Virginia are eligible for the West Virginia Flex-E-Grant program. The county designations are as follows:
Please note that highest priority will be given to projects located in the ARC-designated distressed counties identified above. In addition, highest priority will also be given to communities participating in the West Virginia Community Development Hub HubCAP program: Hinton, Matewan, Princeton, Richwood, and Whitesville.
Applications will be competitively evaluated on the following criteria:
1. Program focus: The project should be focused on providing capacity building activities and support.
2. Ability of the organization to demonstrate and document its capacity to administer Flex-E-Grant funds.
3. Project meets the program’s highest priorities (see page 2)
4. Ability to show outcomes in a specific locality (such as a community, county, or region).
5. Ability of the project to increase local or regional capacity for community and economic development by one or more of the following means:
-Increasing the skills, knowledge, and abilities of individuals, organizations, and communities to become more effective in community development;
-Identifying and developing a local or regional asset for community development;
-Promoting long-term planning and strategic thinking for a community, region, or community/regional organization;
-Creating or enhancing programs and initiatives for community improvement;
-Expanding partnerships and collaborations for community and economic development.
8. Ability of the project to significantly impact local or regional economic or community development.
9. Project addresses a compelling and critical need in the project area (poverty, low-income, lack of opportunity, etc.).
10. Ability of project to identify next steps to continue economic and community development in the project area.
Areas of Emphasis:
The following development needs are particularly critical and will receive emphasis:
Economic Opportunity – Build capacity by developing strong local and regional economic development organizations; diversifying and expanding local industry, including destination tourism development; and supporting small business development.
Infrastructure – As a non-construction program, Flex-E-Grant funding can be provided to build capacity around infrastructure issues such as the development of water, sewer, housing, public safety management, and access road facilities to meet critical public health/safety needs and support business development activities.
Human Resource Development – Build capacity through human resource development by supporting career development, work-based learning, and the number of schools that participate in school reform initiatives. The activity may involve public education, higher education, adult education, job training, employment, welfare reform, economic development, and/or workforce development.
Local Capacity – Build local capacity from the ground up, through leadership training activities, assistance with community strategic planning processes, and telecommunications initiatives that will increase collaboration, interaction, and access to information. This can include capacity building activities for boards and commissions and activities to increase access to programs and information that leverage private sector involvement.
Health Care – Build capacity to enhance basic primary health care, health education, maternal and child health care, and maintenance of reasonable access to emergency/acute care facilities.
Energy Efficiency – Build capacity to promote energy efficiency that enhances economic competitiveness and development. The project may involve strategic planning, building collaborations, training, or civic engagement to promote awareness of energy efficiency.
Local Food Systems — Build capacity to develop and enhance local or regional food networks for economic growth, including developing strategies for farm to school; farm to restaurant; building food-based entrepreneurial networks and clusters; and providing low-income families access to healthy local food. Project activities can include community outreach, community food assessments, and building collaborations.
Downtown Improvements — Build capacity to develop strategies that address critical downtown improvements such as enhancing business districts or addressing blighted conditions. Activities can include strategic planning, asset mapping, organizing community design teams, civic engagement, and building collaborations. Activities can also include supporting West Virginia Main Street and ON-TRAC programs.
Creative Communities — Increase the capacity of individuals, organizations and communities to strengthen economic opportunity through technology, arts and culture, developing cultural and natural amenities, and the appreciation of diversity and creativity. Strategies can include civic engagement such as community forums, outreach and networking, and community assessments and asset mapping.
Environmental Assets — Enhance capacity at the local level to develop and implement plans and strategies to clean up and reuse defunct commercial and industrial sites, encourage natural-resource based entrepreneurship, and promote good stewardship of natural resources, including water conservation and solid waste management.
Community Foundations – Increase the capacity of community foundations through strategies such as strategic planning, training for board members or staff, building networks and collaborations, outreach, and developing new community foundations or equivalent community assets.
Project Categories and Eligible Activities:
Project Category 1: Individual Capacity Building:
-Project Category 1.1: Flex-E-Grants may be provided for training of community members in community leadership, group process skills, entrepreneurial skills, and other types of leadership development.
-Project Category 1.2: Flex-E-Grants may be provided to train the staff, board members, or volunteers of nonprofit organizations or public agencies in organizational skills that will lead to a more effective or more sustainable community organization, partnership, or public agency.
-Project Category 2.1: Flex-E-Grants may be provided to aid nonprofit organizations or partnerships to conduct an organizational assessment, strategic planning, sustainability planning, or other technical assistance strategies that will lead to a more effective or more sustainable organization, partnership, or program.
-Project Category 2.2: Flex-E-Grants may be provided to create a nonprofit organization, or to create a new collaboration between nonprofit organizations or between nonprofit organizations and a public entity.
Project Category 3: Community Capacity Building:
-Project Category 3.1: Flex-E-Grants may be provided to aid units of local government and nonprofit organizations in creating strategic plans, community or regional marketing plans, and other planning, assessment, or visioning tools for a community or region.
-Project Category 3.2: Flex-E-Grants may be provided for activities such as community forums, public meetings, and other forms of community outreach that increase civic engagement or raise community awareness about a public issue or initiative.
-Project Category 3.3: Flex-E-Grants may be provided to increase the ability of communities to collaborate and work together, for example by strengthening capacity in ongoing community development efforts or by implementing capacity building measures from a community plan.
-Project Category 3.4: Flex-E-Grant funds may be provided to build the capacity of community and economic development initiatives that focus on developing a community or regional asset. Assets can include structural assets such as adaptive reuse of an abandoned structure, cultural assets such as arts, festivals, and heritage tourism, and natural assets such as recreation and agriculture.
Others (see text field entitled "Additional Eligibility Criteria" for clarification)
Additional Eligibility Criteria
Eligible applicants include:
-Established nonprofit or other public agencies;
-Colleges and/or Universities (or their affiliates) that operate programs and/or curricula related to leadership or capacity building activities;
-Regional Planning and Development Councils; and/or
-A combination of any of the above.
Except under unusual circumstances, equipment purchases are not suitable for this program. Projects that involve lobbying or advocacy are also not eligible.
Other ineligible uses of Flex-E-Grant funds include:
-Using funds as prize money
-Banquets, dinners, speaker fees, honorariums
-Swag (pens, pencils, mugs, etc.)
The following are the project match requirements:
-For projects in distressed counties, the maximum Flex-E-Grant participation rate will be 90% of the total project cost.
-For projects in at-risk counties, the maximum Flex-E-Grant participation rate will be 85% of the total project cost.
-For projects in transitional/competitive counties, the maximum participation rate will be 80% of the total project cost.
For projects that contain a combination of distressed, at-risk, and/or transitional counties, the following match guidelines apply:
-If the project area contains one at-risk county, the maximum Flex-E-Grant participation rate will be 85% of the total project cost.
-If the project area contains one transitional/competitive county, the maximum Flex-E-Grant participation rate will be 80% of the total project cost.
All applications must be postmarked no later than January 12, 2018.
Estimated Size of Grant
Please note that total project costs (Flex-E-Grant funds + local match) in any one project cannot exceed $10,000. However, consideration will be given to requests exceeding $10,000 total project cost for projects that can secure the required match and show significant economic and/or community development impact or address a significant and critical need.
Term of Contract
Projects should be able to commence upon award of the Flex-E-Grant and to conclude within ten months.