American Rescue Plan Frequently Asked Questions

ARPA 101

What is the American Rescue Plan? How much did EDA receive from it?

On March 11, 2021, President Joseph R. Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law. This historic legislation was designed to enable all Americans to respond to and recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

Under the American Rescue Plan, EDA was allocated $3 billion in supplemental funding to assist communities nationwide in their efforts to build back better by accelerating the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and building local economies that will be resilient to future economic shocks.

What did EDA utilize American Rescue Plan funds?

EDA developed six grant programs, collectively called Investing in America’s Communities, to equitably invest the supplemental funding it received through the American Rescue Plan. These programs include:

  1. $1 Billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge makes major investments of $25 to $65 million in 21 regional coalitions (3-8 interconnected component projects per coalition) that will enable emerging industries to grow in regional economies, transform local communities, enhance U.S. competitiveness, and create thousands of good jobs in the process.
  2. $500 Million Good Jobs Challenge supports 32 awardees with significant grants (average of $15.6 million per awardee) to develop and grow worker-centered, industry-led workforce training systems, placing over 50,000 American workers into quality jobs and supporting regional economies with the skilled, diverse workforce necessary to compete in the 21st Century.
  3. $500 Million Economic Adjustment Assistance program invests in 256 diverse projects—including but not limited to enabling infrastructure, workforce development, business facilities and planning grants — addressing the economic development needs of communities today while preparing them for the future.
  4. $100 Indigenous Communities program closes opportunity gaps and fosters economic mobility and resiliency through 51 diverse awards whose activities are similar to Economic Adjustment Assistance projects but specifically support Indigenous communities across the country. Across all six American Rescue Plan programs, inclusive of the Indigenous Communities program, EDA awarded a total of 128 grants totaling $489.8 million.
  5. $750 Million Travel, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation program supports communities across the country whose economies were hard hit by damage to the travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation sectors from the COVID-19 pandemic through $240 million across 126 competitive awards, as well as $510 million in awards directly to each of the 59 U.S. states and territories. Award activities range from building new tourist attractions (museums, event venues, hiking trails, campgrounds, etc.), developing tourism-related economic plans, and supporting workforce training in the tourism sector.
  6. $90 Million Statewide Planning, Research, and Networks program includes $1 million awards to each of the 59 U.S. states and territories to help them prepare for a more resilient economic future. This program also provided $31 million through 14 awards to enable real-time research and evaluation for EDA’s American Rescue Plan programs and to provide peer-to-peer learning, training, and coaching to EDA American Rescue Plan awardees.

Additionally, through its Coal Communities Commitment, EDA committed to a minimum of $300 million to support American coal communities as they recover from the pandemic across the Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) program ($200 million) and the Build Back Better Regional Challenge (BBBRC) ($100 million). As a result of robust demand, EDA has significantly exceeded this commitment, allocating $551.8 million of funding to coal communities across its six American Rescue Plan programs. This funding includes $208.3 million and 89 projects from EAA and $242.9 million across nine BBBRC phase 1 awards and five BBBRC winners in AlaskaNew YorkOklahomaPennsylvania and West Virginia. Another $100.6 million from EDA’s other American Rescue Plan programs is invested in or benefits coal communities.

Who was eligible for EDA’s American Rescue Plan programs?

Eligible applicants for EDA’s programs include a(n):

  • District Organization of an EDA-designated Economic Development District
  • Indian Tribe or a consortium of Indian Tribes
  • State, county, city, or other political subdivision of a State, including a special purpose unit of a State or local government engaged in economic or infrastructure development activities, or a consortium of political subdivisions
  • Institution of higher education or a consortium of institutions of higher education
  • Public or private non-profit organization or association acting in cooperation with officials of a political subdivision of a State
Is there any remaining EDA American Rescue Plan funding?

No. The $3 billion provided to EDA under the American Rescue Plan was a one-time supplemental funding source. EDA’s regular programming funding levels are appropriated each year by Congress and include programs such as Build to Scale, Public Works, Economic Adjustment Assistance, Partnership Planning, Research and National Technical Assistance, and University Centers.

How does EDA define a coal community?

Coal communities are communities and regions that can reasonably demonstrate how changes in the coal economy have resulted or are anticipated to result in job losses and layoffs in any coal-reliant commercial sector. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Coal mining
  • Coal-fired power plants
  • Related transportation, logistics, and/or supply chain manufacturing industries

In general, EDA considered applications for projects in communities and regions where the primary coal economy contraction “event” (e.g., closure of a coal mine or a coal-fired power plant, closure of various coal economy supply chain businesses, etc.) took place within 15 years of the application submission date.

There was no pre-defined list of impacted coal communities. To demonstrate eligibility, complete applications provided appropriate third party economic and demographic statistics that document the extent to which contractions in the coal economy negatively impacted the community or region.

What does Equity mean in the context of the EDA’s American Rescue Plan programs?

Equity is defined in EDA’s Investment Priorities as projects or programs that directly benefit:

  1. one or more traditionally underserved populations, including but not limited to women, Black, Latino, and Indigenous and Native American persons, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders; or
  2. underserved communities within geographies that have been systemically and/or systematically denied a full opportunity to participate in aspects of economic prosperity such as Tribal Lands, Persistent Poverty Counties (XLSX), and rural areas with demonstrated, historical underservice.

For more information on these populations and geographies see:

About The Awardees

Which areas of the country received funding?

All states and territories received funding from EDA through the American Rescue Plan. To learn more, explore our impact map.

What were the award sizes?

Through its American Rescue Plan programs, EDA provided a variety of grants. The Build Back Better Regional Challenge and the Good Jobs Challenge were designed to provide larger grants and awards from these two programs range from $1.8 million to $65.1 million. EDA’s other four American Rescue Plan programs offered a range of awards including small planning grants and multi-million-dollar construction grants. Across 780 awards, EDA’s awards reflect the following:

  • Median award size: $1,800,865
  • Smallest award size: $40,000
  • Largest award size: $65,106,712
How were the awardees selected?

Through its competitive grant process, EDA evaluates all project applications to determine the extent to which they:

  • Align with EDA’s investment priorities,
  • Effectively address the creation and/or retention of high-quality jobs, and
  • Document that the applicant can or will leverage other resources, both public and private, and demonstrate the applicant’s capacity to commence the proposed project promptly, to use funds quickly and effectively, and provide a clear scope of work that includes a description of specific, measurable project outputs.

Most of EDA’s programs through the American Rescue Plan were evaluated using merit and selection review criteria relevant to the objectives for each program. The selection process for each program was outlined in each of the six competitive Notice of Funding Opportunities published in July 2021 when these programs were announced. In the Travel, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation and Statewide Planning, Research and Networks programs, some grants were allocated by formula directly to each state and territory.

How were EDA’s investment priorities used to evaluate applications?

EDA’s investment priorities provide an overarching framework to ensure its grant investment portfolio – ranging from planning to infrastructure construction – contributes to local efforts to build, improve, or better leverage economic assets that allow businesses to succeed and regional economies to prosper and become more resilient. Competitive grant applications were responsive to the merit criteria listed under each individual funding announcement, including at least one of the below investment priorities. For more information on the investment priorities, please read the Investment Priorities Definitions (PDF).

How are employers and other private sector entities involved in the awards?

Private sector entities are ineligible for EDA funding but were critical to the success of many of EDA’s American Rescue Plan competitions, especially the Good Jobs Challenge and the Build Back Better Regional Challenge, through their letters of support and overall partnership with coalitions and workforce development systems. Private sector entities pledged a range of support to EDA grantees, including hiring commitments, match funding, advisory expertise, in-kind contributions (e.g., equipment use), networks and introductions, and pilot programs.

Looking Ahead

How will EDA support the continued success of its awardees?

EDA will provide technical assistance to many of its awardees to ensure they successfully contribute to the economic future of their local economies. Through a combination of a new EDA Community of Practice (CoP) program and additional experts within EDA and across government, the economic development field, and other sectors, EDA is committed to ensuring its American Rescue Plan awardees are set up for success.

What should I do if I have additional questions not answered in this FAQ?