CATALYST PROGRAM



2024 CATALYST PROGRAM OVERVIEW RELEASED 
NBRC is making up to $50M in federal resources through the Catalyst Program in 2024. The Catalyst Program will hold two funding rounds with up to $30M available in the spring round and up to $20M available in the fall round. Details on eligible projects and award maximums are available in the Full PROGRAM OVERVIEW 

CATALYST PROGRAM INFORMATION SESSIONS (February 6-9, 2024):

These state specific sessions provide an in-depth presentation of the Catalyst Program including highlighting changes in 2024, review of eligible project purposes, award sizes, pre-application process and requirements, evaluation of pre-applications, and the NBRC and state program priorities for 2024.  The sessions provide interested applicants with the information needed to prepare for the pre-application phase.

New Hampshire: February 6, 2024:

Vermont: February 7, 2024:

Maine: February 8, 2024 at 11:00-12:30:

New York: February 9, 2024 at 10:00-11:30:

In addition to these information sessions, NBRC will be scheduling additional program specific “office hour” sessions as well as special Grants Management System training sessions in late February/early March. Stay tuned for these details in the coming weeks.

The online pre-application system is not available yet. Interested applicants can be working outside of the system to develop waiver documentation, budget details, and responses to questions. Please see the summary guidance for accessing program materials and suggestions for developing pre-application information outside of the system below. Technical support resources for registering and accessing the system will be made available as well as technical support office hours. NBRC will announce when this information is available and post any updated resources to the program pages.

Next steps for developing pre-application materials outside of the online system:

1. Review the Waivers:

  • Evaluate if a waiver is required for your project. Guidance is available in the Program User Manual linked from the relevant program pages.
  • Prepare required narrative and documentation for applicable waivers.

2. Review budget information requirements:

  • Budget information requirements are described in information sessions. See recorded webinar or slides linked from the relevant program pages.
  • Template Budget Narrative are available on the NBRC resources website to support pre-application development.
  • Instructions for the SF424cbw detailed budget are available on the NBRC resources website as a reference to support budget development by category.

3. Review 5 Narrative questions:

  • Narrative questions and guidance are described in the information sessions. See recorded webinar or slides linked from the relevant program pages.
  • Prepare responses in word processing document to then copy and paste into pre-application.



Spring 2024 Timeline and Key Dates

  • Pre-Application (Required) Due on March 15, 2024, 5:00 pm EST
  • Application (By Invitation) Due on May 3, 2024, 5:00 pm EST

Fall 2024 Timeline and Key Dates

  • Pre-Application (Required) Due on September 6, 2024, 5:00 pm EST
  • Application (By Invitation) Due on October 18, 2024, 5:00 pm EST

A full PROGRAM TIMELINE is available.

The Catalyst Program is designed to stimulate economic growth and inspire partnerships that improve rural economic vitality across the four-state NBRC region. NBRC encourages projects that take a creative approach to addressing an economic need or opportunity in the region, alleviate economic distress, and contribute to economic growth.

Successful projects support a broad range of economic development initiatives such as, but not limited to, projects that modernize and expand access to public water and wastewater services, revitalize transportation infrastructure, establish workforce development programs and facilities, grow the outdoor recreation economy, and provide access to new childcare and healthcare facilities.

A pre-application is required to apply for the Catalyst Program.  Your state’s designated NBRC Program Manager will provide important feedback to consider as you develop your pre-application materials.  Follow the process below to engage with your state’s program manager. 

Location Eligibility Guidance: The eligible NBRC service area includes 60 counties in Maine, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont.  If your project is in the service area, it may be eligible for NBRC funds.  Locations outside the NBRC service area are NOT eligible to receive NBRC funds. 

Each county in the service area is classified as “distressed”, “transitional”, or “attainment” using pre-determined distress criteria.  These designations determine if your project is eligible to receive NBRC funds and the associated match requirements

  1.         Projects located in counties classified as “distressed” and “transitional” are eligible to receive NBRC funds. 
  2.         Attainment counties are generally NOT eligible to receive NBRC funds, with 2 exceptions.
    • Communities within an attainment county that have been designated as “Isolated Areas of Distress”. See the list of 2024 “Isolated Areas of Distress” county designations.
    • A project located in an Attainment county or outside of the NBRC region will bring significant economic benefits to an Isolated Area of Distress or a county designated as Distressed or Transitional.   Contact NBRC directly to determine if your project is eligible under the significant benefits exception and guidance to complete a Significant Benefits Waiver using admin@nbrc.gov.

See the full list of counties and designations contained in the NBRC Distress Criteria.

           

Eligible Applicant Guidance:

  • State government (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York only)
  • Local governments (village, town, city and county)
  • Secondary and career technical centers
  • Other political subdivisions of States (regional planning commissions, authorities of the state)
  • Non-profit entities (see Program Manual for additional details)
  • Indian Tribes (federally recognized Indian tribes, see Program Manual for additional details)

For-profit entities, LLCs and other entities that are not a 501(c) are NOT eligible to apply for Catalyst Program funding. 

Projects must be consistent with the economic development goals of the region and advance a combination of NBRC and member state priorities. The Catalyst Program will prioritize funding for projects that demonstrate both readiness and projected direct impacts on the region’s economy and communities.

Review your State’s Economic Development Strategy:

Review NBRC Catalyst Program investment priorities:

  • Projects that provide direct benefits to communities who have been underrepresented in past NBRC investments. Priority will be given to projects that demonstrate direct benefits to rural communities with populations of less than 5,000 and disadvantaged communities.
  • Projects that address multiple needs across eligible infrastructure and non-infrastructure categories. Priority will be given to projects that demonstrate efficiency gained from including multiple categories in one project.
  • Projects that adapt to changing climate conditions and extreme weather events. Priority will be given to projects that demonstrate how they help communities prevent, reduce, withstand, and/or improve recovery from climate related impacts and disasters.

NBRC recommends interested applicants in Maine, New York and Vermont complete the Project Interest Form before meeting with their State Program Manager. The information in this form allows the program manager to maximize the opportunity for feedback and funding program suggestions during project development meetings. This form is not required. 

Interested applicants in New Hampshire are encouraged to sign up for the technical assistance program that is available in eligible New Hampshire counties and communities.  Weblink: https://nbrc-nh.com/

Maine: Send your Project Interest Form to BizAwards.DECD@maine.gov.
New Hampshire: Questions about the technical assistance website can be directed to New Hampshire State Program Manager, Steve Fortier.
New York: Send your Project Interest Form to New York’s NBRC Program Manager, Kyle Wilber.
Vermont: Send your project interest form to Vermont’s NBRC Program Manager, Kristie Farnham.

NBRC encourages applicants to incorporate feedback they receive from the state program manager into their pre-application and application.  NBRC recommends interested applicants self-evaluate their proposed project using the NBRC and state’s program scoring criteria to better understand the relative competitiveness of the project.

Pre-Application Process: The Catalyst Program requires a pre-application.  See the Catalyst Program TIMELINE for pre-application deadlines.  The Catalyst Program USER MANUAL has detailed guidance for developing both a pre-application and application. Pre-applications will be submitted using the NBRC Grants Management System. 

During the pre-application phase, projects will be evaluated for eligibility and relevance to the program. Projects that are determined to be eligible by NBRC and invited to apply by a state’s program manager, will submit a full application. 

Application Process: See the Catalyst Program TIMELINE for Application deadlines.  The Catalyst Program USER MANUAL has detailed guidance for developing both a pre-application and application. Applications will be submitted using the same NBRC Grants Management System.

During the application phase, eligible applications are reviewed and scored by both NBRC and the state program.  This scoring process incorporates NBRC and state priorities articulated in the scoring criteria, state economic development plans, and the NBRC Five Year Strategic Plan.  States select projects based on the results of the scoring process and strong alignment with priorities.  Selected projects are approved by the four State Governors and the Federal Co-Chair.  The Catalyst Program USER MANUAL also has the detailed Scoring Criteria used by NBRC and state programs. 

Help NBRC share information on funding opportunities, award announcements and other exciting news. By signing up for NBRC Announcements, you’ll be sure to receive the latest information on the Catalyst Program.  Sign up HERE.   

CATALYST PROGRAM OVERVIEW 

PROGRAM TIMELINE

CATALYST PROGRAM FAQ

CATALYST PROGRAM USER MANUAL 

LOCAL DEVELOPMENT DISTRICTS LIST & ASSISTANCE

NBRC DISTRESS CRITERIA