American Rescue Plan Act – Guidance, Funding and Updates as of May 11


  • Stephanie Martinez-Ruckman
  • Yucel Ors
May 17, 2021 - (3 min read)

Federal agencies continue to release guidance and funding for programs under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to help communities respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Here is a roundup of key recent updates on programs important to cities, towns and villages by agency. 

U.S. Department of Education (ED) 

On May 11, ED announced more than $36 billion in ARPA emergency grants for postsecondary education. These grants will help over 5,000 institutions of higher education provide emergency financial assistance to millions of students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including direct cash grants to students, as well as support for costs relating to food, housing, course materials, technology, health care and childcare. 

Allocations to institutions are based on a formula that includes the relative shares of Federal Pell Grant recipients (on both a headcount and full-time equivalent basis), the relative shares of non-Pell Grant recipients, and the relative shares of Federal Pell recipients exclusively enrolled in distance education prior to the coronavirus emergency.  Local leaders should work directly with their local higher education institutions to ensure they are aware of these funds and are supporting students for continued access to learning.  Look here for the latest guidance and FAQ document

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) 

HHS announced nearly $250 million in two funding opportunities for community-based organizations to hire and mobilize community outreach workers, community health workers, social support specialists, and others to increase vaccine access for the hardest-hit and highest-risk communities through high-touch, on-the-ground outreach. These workers will build confidence by answering individual questions about vaccination, help make vaccine appointments, and assist with transportation, child care arrangements, or other needs to get to individuals to their vaccination appointments. The first of two funding opportunities is available with the second funding opportunity will be released in mid-May and will focus on smaller community-based organizations. 

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) 

FEMA recently updated the COVID-19 Food and Nutrition Resource Roadmap to assist state, local, tribal and territorial (SLTT) partners with the unprecedented challenges associated with food and nutrition support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, in addition to the CARES Act, Version 2.0 includes resources that were identified in the Consolidated Appropriations Act and American Rescue Plan Act. 

This Roadmap is part of a series that FEMA developed last year to assist SLTT partners in identifying potential sources of funding and other resources to help them with COVID-19 pandemic recovery. The five Roadmaps (food and nutrition, housing, healthcare, education, and economic recovery) were developed in partnership with nearly thirty federal interagency partners, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Department of Commerce. Each Roadmap identifies potential solutions to address specific challenge areas and describes how supplemental and certain annually appropriated funds can be used to implement recovery solutions.  

All of the COVID-19 Resource Roadmaps can be found on

About the Authors

Stephanie Martinez-Ruckman

About the Authors

Stephanie Martinez-Ruckman is the Legislative Director of Human Development at the National League of Cities.

Yucel Ors

Yucel (u-jel) Ors is the Director of Public Safety and Crime Prevention at the National League of Cities.