These funds can go towards things like ventilation infrastructure, something schools across the country need, particularly Philadelphia.
Here’s my best guest about how to apply with supporting legal and policy language.
Money for safely reopening includes school ventilation costs
The relevant language exists in a Memorandum that directs support to states and local governments for the crisis. The relevant language for schools is here:
Sec. 3. Assistance for Category B Emergency Protective Measures. (a) In accordance with sections 403 (42 U.S.C. 5170b) and 502 (42 U.S.C. 5192) of the Stafford Act, FEMA shall, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, make available under Category B of the Public Assistance program such assistance as may be required by States (including territories and the District of Columbia), local governments, and Tribal governments to provide for the safe opening and operation of eligible schools, child-care facilities, healthcare facilities, non-congregate shelters, domestic violence shelters, transit systems, and other eligible applicants. Such assistance may include funding for the provision of personal protective equipment and disinfecting services and supplies.
The question is how to get the Public Assistance money. The Memo mentions reimbursement conditions here:
Sec. 4. Advanced Reimbursement. To make reimbursements for approved work under the Stafford Act to respond to COVID-19 available more quickly, FEMA shall expedite reimbursement for eligible emergency work projects and, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, provide an advance of the Federal share on a percentage of the expected reimbursement from FEMA-approved projects.
The devil’s in the details. The projects have to be ‘eligible emergency work’. The word ventilation doesn’t occur in the Memorandum or the executive order on schools, but it does occur in the administration’s 200-page COVID emergency plan.
It’s in the section on schools:
In the coming weeks, FEMA, in consultation with ED and CDC, will work with states and local governments to utilize disaster relief funds to address barriers to school reopening, including purchase of masks and sanitizing products, as well as necessary emergency changes to school ventilation. (p. 81)
So I think there’s clear legal and policy basis for putting in an application to get FEMA money for school ventilation infrastructure. How would we do this?
FEMA has a seven-step proposal process laid out here for its Public Assistance programs.
1. Recipients attend virtual applicant briefing
Those interested in attended a briefing should contact state, local, tribal and territorial governments.
4. Submit a COVID-19 Streamlined Project Application
5. FEMA and Recipient review documents
6. Applicant Signs Project
7. Receive funding through Recipient.
FEMA reviews information you have submitted online including work activities, costs, and supporting documentation and may contact you if we have any questions. You can log-in to Grants Portal see the progress of your grant at any time.
Questions are: who’s the recipient—the district, city, or state? What entities submit what paperwork and when? Is there a limit to budget requests? And what are the politics here? Who do we have to move to start the application process for getting money for ventilation in Philadelphia, eg?
I’m going to send some emails and see what happens.