Local Infrastructure Hub Success Stories: How NLC Bootcamps are Helping Small & Mid-Sized Cities Develop Grant Applications


  • Katie Dailinger
September 8, 2023 - (3 min read)

The Local Infrastructure Hub’s (LIH) bootcamp series, led by the National League of Cities, has reached more than 1,000 attendees nationwide. In talking with some of the past participants, it became clear each had their own “light bulb” moment when the bootcamps helped elevate their application.

Lesson 1: Join Forces with Other Local Communities

Andrew Chiki, deputy service-safety director for the city of Athens, Ohio, (24,311 residents), discovered that there’s strength in numbers. When learning more about the Charging and Fueling Infrastructure Grant Program through the bootcamps, it became clear that coalition-based applications receive higher scores and are better received by those reviewing funding applications. After meeting several other small communities in Southeast Ohio who were also participating in the bootcamps, Andrew decided to launch a collaborative project with these other stakeholders.

Through the newly formed coalition, Athens will be able to make the transition from traditionally fueled vehicles to electric vehicles more accessible for residents. 

Lesson 2: Get Real-Time Feedback on Grant Applications to Unlock Funding

Maria Tidwell, a code enforcement officer for the city of Gladewater, Texas, who is also juggling a master’s in public administration, felt instantly overwhelmed when tackling her city’s grant application. She acknowledged that she is not a professional grant writer by trade.

However, the bootcamps gave Maria the confidence she needed by providing an opportunity to ask questions in real-time and receive feedback on the application—even going line by line through the forms. “Suddenly, the application process didn’t seem as overwhelming,” said Maria.

With Maria at the helm, Gladewater (6,137 residents), submitted a compelling application for funding to connect their schools to their parks and downtown with sidewalks, keeping children safe as they commute to and from school.

Lesson 3: Bounce Ideas Off Peers Facing Similar Challenges

While Carly Foster has years of experience in writing grant applications, she acknowledges that full-time government employees are usually just trying to keep the wheels on the bus and often don’t have time to take on extra projects.

The village of Warwick, New York, (32,065 residents) is no exception—it lacks the budget to consistently hire consultants to help craft winning applications. However, when participating in the bootcamps, Carly felt empowered to ask for help and bounce ideas off other municipalities that often face the same challenges. 

By joining peers who had either been there before or were going through the application process simultaneously, Carly felt like she didn’t have to tackle her project alone.

Don’t Wait – Register Today!

Registration for the Fall 2023 bootcamp series is now open. Register your city to receive help in preparing a competitive grant application for federal dollars. Registration closes Friday, September 29.

Funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Ballmer Group, Emerson Collective, Ford Foundation and The Kresge Foundation, the first-of-its-kind Local Infrastructure Hub is a national program to ensure that all cities and towns can access federal infrastructure funding to drive local recovery, improve communities, and deliver results for residents. 

About the Author

Katie Dailinger

About the Author

Katie Dailinger is the Project Director of the Local Infrastructure Hub at the National League of Cities.