1. How is the 2021 Call for Planning Assistance different from CMAP and the RTA’s Annual Call for Projects from previous years?
This year’s Call for Planning Assistance is a targeted call for communities to apply for a limited selection of technical assistance offerings. This effort was initiated in response to the regional impacts of COVID-19. CMAP and the RTA are offering programs that provide support to capacity-constrained communities to help advance local planning initiatives.
2. Who is funding these programs?
Funding for this program comes from a combination of federal, state, local, and foundation funds from CMAP and the RTA.
3. Is a local contribution required?
In most cases, if not all, a local monetary contribution will not be required for projects selected during the 2021 Call for Planning Assistance. Applicants will be notified if a local contribution will be needed before project approval. Please contact CMAP or the RTA with any questions.
4. Will applicants need to have the local contribution in hand at the time of the application?
No. CMAP and the RTA expect applicants to have the local contribution available once a project starts. Applicants are not required to have the local contribution available when submitting an application. CMAP and the RTA are flexible with project start dates and can work around local budget cycles. The RTA will invoice for local contribution payments once a project completes.
5. What types of projects have CMAP and the RTA worked on in the past?
Eligible project types for 2021 can be found here. Please visit CMAP’s website and the RTA’s website to learn more about previously funded plans.
6. Can I apply for more than one type of assistance?
You may apply for more than one type of assistance. Only one type of assistance will be granted per municipality.
7. How many projects will the agencies select this year?
Please review the application materials for more information on the approximate number of applications that will be selected for each type of assistance offered by CMAP. CMAP and the RTA have limited resources for these programs, and not all applications will be selected. Historically, CMAP and the RTA have selected less than 40 percent of the applications received.
8. What projects are NOT eligible?
Project phases, such as land acquisition, engineering, or capital investment, are not intended to be pursued through this program. Large planning studies awarded in previous years, such as transit-oriented development, corridor, and comprehensive plans, are not eligible this year. The 2021 program focuses on small-scale planning and implementation activities.
9. How will projects be evaluated?
Projects will be evaluated based on criteria derived by CMAP and the RTA. CMAP will evaluate and select projects for the Local Technical Assistance program that are not explicitly transit-focused. The RTA will evaluate and select transit-related projects for the Community Planning program. This year, both agencies are focused on providing technical assistance to high-need municipalities, based on data or factors, such as population, income, and tax base per capita (CMAP Community Cohorts 3 and 4).
10. Who is responsible for managing the project?
A CMAP or RTA staff member or representative will be assigned to each project to assist with project development and management. The local grantee will be responsible for overall project management. Administrative and invoicing responsibilities will vary, depending on the assigned funding agency (CMAP or RTA) and procurement method selected.
11. Which agency manages which projects?
Once applications are received, CMAP and the RTA will align applications with each agency’s interest. Projects with a direct transit focus are more likely to be managed by the RTA. Projects without transit components likely will go to CMAP. When submitting an application, you do not need to specify whether you think your project is a better fit for CMAP or the RTA. Both agencies will decide during the application review.
12. I submitted an application by the due date on February 3. What are the next steps and how are projects selected?
Staff with CMAP and the RTA will begin reviewing applications immediately after receiving all submissions. While CMAP and the RTA make the final project selections, staff considers feedback from other agencies as appropriate. Staff also may contact applicants to ask questions as necessary. The applications are qualitatively reviewed. You will be notified by staff from the appropriate agency regarding final selections. Subsequent steps for projects admitted into the program will depend on which agency funds the project. A detailed timeline is outlined above.
13. What is the anticipated timeframe for projects to begin?
Project development begins once a project is selected. Our goal is to initiate most of the projects within six months and complete each project within 18 months of initiation.
14. What type of agreement is executed prior to the start of a project?
CMAP and the RTA require an agreement to be signed and possibly a resolution to be approved before starting projects.
15. What is a Community Cohort and how is it determined?
Community Cohorts are established by grouping communities throughout the CMAP region based on four factors — total population, median household income, tax base per capita, and the percent of the population located in an economically disconnected or disinvested area. CMAP uses the most recent data available to update the list of Community Cohorts each year. The tool and the methodology used for determining cohort designations can be found here. A list of the 2020 Community Cohorts can be found here.
16. Can I request money to cover staff time at my organization?
This program does not offer funds for staff time. Any financial commitment from CMAP or the RTA is dedicated to hiring external contractors/consultants or providing CMAP or RTA staff assistance.
17. Are CTA, Metra, and Pace involved in transit-related projects?
Each transit agency that may be potentially impacted by a study is invited to participate. Additionally, it may be appropriate to involve CMAP in an RTA-led project, and vice versa.
18. How do CMAP and the RTA decide whether to provide selected communities with staff assistance, consultant assistance, or other types of assistance?
During the project review and evaluation process, staff may contact applicants to gain a better understanding of their project. After selection, the agencies confirm with project sponsors whether the project will be accomplished through assigning staff time, providing a grant, conducting a consultant selection process led by CMAP or RTA, or other options.
19. Will CMAP offer consortiums that focus on other topics in the future?
Yes. This year, CMAP will provide technical assistance to a cohort of local governments to address shared challenges related to the creative use of public space in response to COVID-19. In the future, CMAP will offer a similar type of assistance focused on other topics.
20. Who do I contact if I still have questions?
Please contact Michael Horsting (email@example.com) or Lily Neppl (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions.