The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is an economic development organization that supports 423 counties — including our 54 in Kentucky. They partner with federal and 13 state governments to invest in projects that strengthen local communities.
The ARC INSPIRE Initiative focuses on supporting career and treatment pathways for residents who have completed substance abuse treatment.
The ARC INSPIRE Initiative provides funding for many post-recovery needs, including:
- Substance use disorder (SUD) recovery providers and programs.
- Job training and placement services for recovering patients.
- Programs that support the collective effectiveness of recovery pathways.
Importantly — ARC INSPIRE seeks to fund ideas that bring innovative approaches to our region’s challenges with SUD.
The ARC INSPIRE Initiative is a top funding opportunity for our region. If your county struggles with post-recovery care and employment for residents, you might consider applying.
Our region is banding together to address the challenges we’re facing with substance use disorder. We can and will win this fight, especially with the ARC INSPIRE Initiative backing us up.
There are a lot of bright minds working on this issue in Eastern Kentucky. One of our goals at SOAR is to get as many of these projects funded as possible.
How to apply for the ARC INSPIRE Grant
Before you start your application for an ARC INSPIRE Grant, it’s important to carefully read and understand ARC’s strategic plan. ARC will issue awards based on how well the applicants align with its broader vision for our Appalachian region.
The 2022 grant application window opened on February 7. The ARC is issuing $10 million total — with a maximum award of $500,000 per grantee.
The application timeline for the 2022 ARC INSPIRE Initiative is as follows:
- February 7: Application portal opens
- March 3: Letter of Intent (LOI) due
- March 24: Grant proposal due
- August 1: Awards announced
To get started, register now to attend the ARC Pre-Application Workshop on February 24. In the meantime, get ready for the fast-approaching deadline with this checklist based on application best practices.
Who the ARC INSPIRE grant is for
There are many types of organizations and government entities eligible to receive this grant, including:
- Local development districts (LDDs)
- Indian tribes and consortiums
- States, counties, cities, or other political subdivisions of a state
- Special purpose units focused on economic or infrastructure development activities
- Political subdivisions
- Higher education institutions and consortiums
- Public or private nonprofit organizations and associations
Don’t wait until the last minute to set up your SAM account, DUNS number, and grants.gov accounts. You’ll need all of them to submit your application, and they might require some lead time on new inquiries.
Who can’t apply for the ARC INSPIRE grant
If you already applied for an ARC POWER Grant for a SUD-related initiative, you’re ineligible for an ARC INSPIRE Grant.
If you’re receiving funding from Rural Communities (WORC), POWER, and INSPIRE for SUD-related projects, you’re also ineligible.
What types of projects get funded
Eligible projects will either focus on planning or implementation of SUD-related programs. Be sure to review the complete RFP for their complete list of criteria.
ARC INSPIRE planning grants
Planning grants provide funding to organizations in the process of developing their strategies. Organizations seeking a planning grant from the ARC INSPIRE Initiative may ask for up to $50,000.
ARC would like to fund planning grants that fulfill some or all of the following objectives:
- Creating strategies that strengthen SUD partnerships and enhance recovery outcomes.
- Developing plans that support job readiness and employment among recovering patients.
- Conducting community needs assessments that are inclusive of SUD community members.
- Facilitating studies that may offer solutions to employment challenges among SUD communities.
- Training employers on the policies and practices that support successful hires from within the SUD community.
- Creating service delivery and sustainability plans.
- Evaluating SUD recovery-to-work programs that show promise for new, innovative methods.
ARC INSPIRE implementation grants
If you apply for an implementation grant, you can ask for up to $500,000 to support program delivery.
The list of ARC-approved projects covers more than a half-page of the RFP. You can check out the whole list for yourself, but we’ve summarized a few highlights below:
- Organizations providing services, training, education, or employment to the SUD community
- Peer support systems for residents recovering from SUD
- Health networks that support SUD recovery
- Transportation, housing, and childcare supporting employment needs for the SUD community
- Job and skill training programs
- Workforce development programs
- Economic development concepts that support employment for the SUD community
Past grantees from Eastern Kentucky
Eastern Kentucky has many grantees who’ve received awards from the ARC INSPIRE Initiative.
The Pike County Health Department collaborated with the Pike County Detention Center and Westcare Kentucky Men’s Jail Recovery Program. Together, they developed the REBUILD program. ARC awarded them $485,676 to provide training and job placement for construction industry jobs — an industry significantly affected by the SUD crisis.
Kentucky River Community Care (KRCC) is another local ARC INSPIRE grant recipient. It accepted a $500,000 grant to launch Bridges to Work. This innovative pilot program will create a comprehensive network of services that starts after SUD treatment and ends with successful job placements.
A note from SOAR about successful applicants
This grant makes a lot of funding available to our region. That can inspire some to quickly come up with an idea on the spot.
But that isn’t the right way to approach this opportunity. Submitting a competitive application requires plenty of forethought and preparation.
Suppose you already have a clear set of outcomes that you can track and measure, plus a plan to manage funds as soon as you receive them. In that case, you’re ready to apply for an implementation grant.
If you don’t, a planning grant might be a better fit.
Sometimes we see folks overlook planning grants. But that’s a mistake. While planning grant amounts are lower, having a solid plan makes it easier to apply for the funds needed for implementation.
If you’re still unsure about your direction, reach out. The SOAR team can help you figure out your next steps. We’ll let you know if your idea stacks up with what ARC requires from its INSPIRE grant applicants.
The ARC INSPIRE grant application process: The LOI
Your first requirement for the ARC INSPIRE grant is your letter of intent — otherwise known as your LOI.
You must submit your ARC INSPIRE LOI by March 3, 2022.
Use the ARC LOI template to create yours. They make it as straightforward as possible for you to meet their LOI requirements.
Expert tip from SOAR: make sure you list the exact dollar amount you’re asking for in your LOI. This number can’t change after you submit your LOI, which is why you must do your due diligence beforehand.
Taking the time to consider all aspects of your project — including how much it will cost — will help you submit an accurate figure in your LOI.
If you make an uninformed guess for your grant amount in the LOI, but your project ends up needing a lot more funds, you’ll be stuck with what you have. Or, in the worst-case scenario, you might be in violation of the grant’s requirements.
The ARC INSPIRE Grant application process: The application
The ARC is an excellent organization to work with because it makes its requirements clear and accessible. Follow the steps ARC provides for this grant application. Read its guide carefully, thoroughly, and more than once.
Additionally, SOAR offers best practices for grant applications. Be sure to consult our guide early and often.
ARC INSPIRE grant applications must fall under one of the ARC’s focus areas. Be clear about which ones you can deliver and how.
The ARC wants to know what you plan to achieve — and how you plan to measure progress along the way. Create a list of the objectives and outcomes you’re aiming for in the short and long term.
We can’t stress this enough: proving your idea is sustainable now and into the future is critical to your grant application.
The more data you have to back this up, the better off you’ll be.
ARC INSPIRE matching requirements
To increase your chances of winning grant funds, make sure you establish a match to pair up with your grant. The standard match rate is 20%. That said, the actual percentage will depend on the number of distressed counties your project will impact.
You can’t lower your match rate after you submit it. However, you can increase it later if more match funds become available.
In-kind matches, such as office space or volunteer labor for professional services, are possible. That said, ARC will often prefer cash matches because they’re easy to track and report back to them.
ARC INSPIRE tracking and reporting
As part of your application, you’ll need to prove you have systems in place to measure results and submit progress reports to your grantors.
ARC requires quarterly reporting from its grantees. You’ll need to show exactly where you’re spending the grant and how the funds are supporting the project.
As part of that process, make sure you let ARC know you’ll have a staff member or team dedicated to the reporting effort. They’ll need to keep a detailed paper trail of all expenses, invoices, and salaries powered by this grant.
If you need help with this function, contact your Area Development District. They can help with this type of administrative work for ARC grantees in their jurisdiction.
Getting help with the ARC INSPIRE Grant application
Organizations committed to recovering patients’ ongoing health and employment outcomes may be well-positioned to win an ARC INSPIRE grant. If you’re committed to improving health and employment outcomes for the SUD community, you may be well-positioned to win an ARC INSPIRE Grant.
As you start to jump into the process, don’t be shy — the SOAR team can help. We’re available to discuss your idea — and help you determine whether it’ll be a good fit for this particular grant.
And if it’s not, we might be able to connect you to other funding opportunities in Eastern Kentucky that’d be a better fit.
Once you’re confident in your idea, contact the ARC representative for Kentucky. He can help clarify any questions you have about the application. It also doesn’t hurt to reach out and find out what the committee will be looking for in a winning submission.
Finally, be sure to attend the ARC INSPIRE Pre-Application Workshop on February 24.
We’re heartened by the many examples of good work funded by the ARC INSPIRE grant. SOAR hopes to see ARC INSPIRE grantees out of Eastern Kentucky again this year — and we’re committed to helping make this dream a reality.