Success Simplified: Tools to Help You Secure Federal Funding With Ease

Ports + Grants
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AAPA Comprehensive Guide to Federal Funding Opportunities

Federal funding for port infrastructure has increased in recent years, thanks primarily to a trio of legislative actions:

  • The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) increased funding for existing federal grant programs and created new ones.
  • The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) provided funding for new climate-focused challenges, including at ports.
  • The Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) was “unlocked,” providing its unspent balance in new funding for US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) dredging projects.

Much of this funding is available only for a limited window. AAPA Comprehensive Guide to Federal Funding Opportunities is intended to turn over every stone, presenting familiar and outside-the-box ideas for ports to competitively seek federal resources. Most BIL funding will expire in 2026 and IRA funding in 2027. It is therefore crucial that port authorities make the most of these opportunities in the next few years. While the opportunities are extensive, it can be intimidating to keep track of all the different funding opportunities. This guide is meant to provide port authorities with a comprehensive overview of all federal funding opportunities available, with concise summaries of each program’s guidelines, and necessary links to access funding opportunities, grant administrators’ contacts, and more. For questions or comments, connect directly with AAPA’s Government Relations Team at [email protected].

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U.S. Department of Transportation Grant Application Toolkit for Ports

More than 300 ports are eligible to apply for grants through the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) discretionary grant programs including the Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP), Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) Grant Program, and Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) Grant Program. Over the next five years, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) will invest more than $17 billion in port and waterway projects.

While funding is at an all-time high, less than 50 percent of ports submit applications, including eligible small- and medium-sized ports. To be selected by USDOT’s Secretary to receive a portion of this funding, a port must submit a grant application that includes a 30-page Project Narrative (PIDP) or separate Project Description, Project Budget, Merit Criteria, and Project Readiness files (RAISE), as well as Project Requirements (INFRA) information.

The U.S. Department of Transportation Grant Application Toolkit provides U.S. ports the help they need in applying for a USDOT grant with templates, supporting resources, and examples to effectively prepare and complete a grant application package. The toolkit includes Microsoft Word templates for PIDP, RAISE, and INFRA with sections based on each notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) to assist ports in addressing the specific criteria, a User Guide, examples of successful grant applications, and boilerplate letters of support, letters of commitment, and letters of intent to comply with the Build America, Buy America Act (BABAA).

Port Professional Manager (PPM®) program graduates Sadé Chick (Port of Beaumont), Shannon McLeod (AAPA), and Lindsay Young (PhilaPort) recognized the vital need within the industry for this toolkit and created it as a resource to help the ports that need it most. For more information, contact Shannon McLeod at [email protected].

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View the funding resources on AAPA’s website.