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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is EDA creating an Economic Recovery Corps?

As communities and organizations face depleted institutional resources, many are unable to develop and grow their staff to the level needed to fully execute their economic development plans and goals, particularly those established as part of a regional economic development planning process (e.g., Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies (CEDS).

What are some possible Network Operator activities?

Technical Assistance

  • Design and implement a curriculum or training strategy to ensure Fellows have appropriate skills in grant writing, funding opportunities, community engagement, planning, effective use and analysis data and tools, and public sector operations and administration to add significant value to their host communities, or design a support strategy to augment these skills through other means
  • Place Fellows in locations and/or organizations that will strategically enable distressed and underserved communities or organizations to participate in economic development

Knowledge and Insights

  • Collaborate with national research and practice leaders to identify and organize strategic opportunities for execution across the network
  • Coordinate with relevant EDA networks and communities of practice (CoP), recently created through EDA’s Research and Networks NOFO, to connect Fellows to appropriate tools and trainings, and share best practices
  • Design, launch, and manage a national database that aggregates CEDS and equivalent regional economic development plans and other economic insights to help communities and partners such as federal agencies and philanthropy align on investment strategies and goals
  • Provide continued support to the Fellows to spread best practices and ensure information sharing and network building across the cohort, including opportunities to collaborate across multiple federal agencies

What are some possible Fellow activities?

Technical Assistance

  • Work closely with host agency and partners to implement locally generated economic development projects developed as part of the CEDS or CEDS-aligned economic recovery and resilience plan
  • Modernize economic development tools and insights to increase knowledge sharing and collaboration in a digital age, such as digitalizing CEDS or relevant regional economic development goals, plans, and activities
  • Provide technical assistance with project development, grant writing, performing feasibility studies, or developing impact analyses
  • Provide training on economic resilience, addressing systemic barriers in development and integrate impacts of climate change
  • Create links across a broad set of planning efforts, such as regional economic development plans, metropolitan transportation plans, land use plans, and local fair housing plans, as appropriate, to advance equitable economic development

Knowledge and Insights

  • Partner with EDA University Centers to take knowledge gained through research and education and tailor it to specific EDO needs
  • Conduct outreach to underserved communities to determine their greatest needs and barriers to economic growth and incorporate those into planning efforts, as appropriate
  • Integrate a region’s or state’s CEDS into a coordinated or holistic strategy, and provide training to stakeholders to implement CEDS guidance
  • Assess and improve current planning processes as relates to inclusivity
  • Coordinate high-level advisory groups comprised of local business, government and community members
  • Connect local government or non-profit partners to local businesses to collaborate on workforce development

What are the desired outcomes/outputs?

Any proposed activities should result in a more efficient and connected national economic development infrastructure that enables all benefiting regions to effectively plan for and participate in economic development programing and investment as measured by meaningful outputs and outcomes, such as the following examples:

  • Increased connectivity, as measured by national CEDS (or CEDS-equivalent) coverage and the aggregation and dissemination of current plans in accessible and actionable digital and interactive formats
  • Increased awareness and participation in grants and programs, as measured by participation in EDA and other federal economic development programs by new participants and communities, including those that are traditionally underserved
  • Accelerated job creation, as measured by the forecasted jobs created or retained as a result of Fellows successfully developing projects and attracting investments
  • Increased community engagement, as measured by the number of communities who have benefited directly or indirectly from the Fellows’ work
  • Increased capacity, as measured by the number of communities and/or organizations newly partnered to further federally funded economic development initiatives/grants and programs, including those that are traditionally underserved

Applicants

Is there a limit to how many organizations can apply as a coalition?
There is no limit to the number of organizations in one application. Coalitions should seek partners to cover all capacity and expertise requirements, and demonstrate their relation to the strategy in the project narrative and applicant capacity sections of the application package.

Can a single organization apply to be the Network Operator by itself?
Yes, however taking into consider the size and design of this program, it is unlikely a single organization has the required expertise and capacity to be competitive without strategic partners.

Can you apply for one program in the NOFO and not the other?
Applicants should only apply to one program. Even though they are under the same NOFO, the ERC and EII are to be considered and applied for as two separate programs.

Should applicants reach out to EDA regional staff?
This program will not be managed at a regional level, however, serious candidates may consider letting their EDA Regional Office staff know of their intent to apply. For ERC-specific questions please work with the team at networks@eda.gov.

Can current and/or former EDA grantees apply for this program?
Former and/or current EDA grantees are not restricted from applying to this funding opportunity.

Should applicants consider and include sustainability plans in this application?
Yes, sustainability, scalability and dissemination are one of the six criteria of the scoring rubric. Competitive applications should interweave plans for long-term impact and sustainability throughout the proposal and provide specifics on how they will ensure this.

What is the overall budget, or funding available?
The Economic Recovery Corps budget is estimated between $20-$25 million. EDA anticipates having more precise funding information in July; budgets at the lower end of the range are recommended, with the potential to scale to higher funding amounts.

How many awards are included in this funding opportunity?
EDA anticipates awarding one cooperative agreement for the ERC component of this funding opportunity.

Corps Structure

How will the Economic Recovery Corps Fellows differ from the EDA's Disaster Recovery Coordinators?
How will it differ from the EDA's Americorps VISTA volunteers? The ERC was designed to complement the work of related programs, but with longer commitments and a Network designed to provide value beyond the work of individual Fellows.

What benefits does a formalized fellowship program provide over EDA's current planning and technical assistance grants for economic development organizations?
Many EDA technical assistance awards are not large enough to accomplish the possible activities anticipated from the Fellows. Additionally, the ERC is structured to offer more sustained support - for potentially up to 3 years - as compared to other, more short-term technical assistance.

What coverage is expected for the Fellows? Is there a limit to the number of organizations an individual Fellow can support?
A specific number of states/territories is not required, however distribution strategy should be broad in geographic reach and include placements across all 6 EDA regions. There is no limit to the number of organizations an individual Fellow may support; strategies may range from highly localized target areas to statewide efforts or larger regional collaborations (or a mixture of approaches).

Does this program require a match?
EDA generally expects to fund 100% of eligible project costs. While match is not required, inclusion of match in the application may make it more competitive. Note: follow-on funding after the scaling phase for the Economic Recovery Corps is not guaranteed at this time and strategy around program sustainability will be considered as an evaluation criterion.

Is the Network Operator required to employ or subcontract Fellows, or does EDA envision the Network Operator making sub awards to Host Entities where Fellows are working?
There is not a requirement for the Network Operator to employ Fellows or set a structure for them to be independent contractors; however, sub awards to Host Entities may limit opportunities for the Network Operator to successfully support the full range of cohort needs. Please reach out to networks@eda.gov for more information.

EDA

Is there a specific definition of underserved, and the population it encompasses?
The EDA's comprehensive definition of underserved populations can be found through this page: https://www.eda.gov/about/investment-priorities/

Can you define CEDS?
A Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) is a strategy-driven plan for regional economic development. A CEDS is the result of a “regionally-owned” planning process designed to guide the economic prosperity and resiliency of an area or region. It provides a coordinating mechanism for individuals, organizations, local governments, and private industry to engage in a meaningful conversation and debate about the economic direction of their region.

Fellows

How many Fellows are expected to be supported through the ERC?
EDA anticipates that the Network Operator would create a program to support no fewer than 50 Fellows. However, competetive proposals will develop budgets that exceed that number while appropriately supporting the Fellows and their Host Entities.

What is the target skill and experience level for the Fellows?
Network Operator applicants may consider setting a minimum level of experience higher than entry level for Economic Recovery Corps Fellows. The economic development experience targeted should match the overall Fellows strategy.

Can organizations request a Fellow?
Separate outreach including the potential to request a Fellow will occur when the placement strategy is launched.

How long are Fellow placements with host entities?
Fellows are expected to be placed in host organizations for approximately three years.

How many rounds of Fellows will be possible under this award?
This award will cover one round of Fellows to serve with their host organizations for approximately three years.

Host Entities

What types of organizations are eligible to host Fellows? How will Fellows be placed in host organizations?
The Host Entity criteria and Fellows placement strategy should be outlined in the project narrative section in response to this NOFO, and will approved by EDA in the preparation phase after the award begins.

How can my organization become a host entity for a Fellow or Fellows?
Details on Host Entity eligibility and the application process will be announced after the award starts and EDA approval is finalized.

Does this program require the host organization to share the costs to host an Economic Recovery Corps Fellow?
The full cost for the Fellows is included in this award funding; there will not be a mandatory cost share for host entities.

Misc

Will the Economic Recovery Corps work closely with the awardees from the Equity Impact Investments program?
EDA staff for both programs will be in close coordination and faciliate appropriate collaboration to leverage complementary efforts.

Research and National Technical Assistance (RNTA)

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