How to Maximize the Local Impact of the American Rescue Plan

A new report provides advice and guidance on how cities, with Philadelphia as its example, can make the most of the historic funding opportunities made available by the American Rescue Plan approved by Congress earlier this year.

August 13, 2021, 6:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Philadelphia Bike Lane

Michael Stokes / Flickr

Nowak Metro Finance Lab at Drexel University and Accelerator for America recently published on analysis of the American Rescue Plan (ARPA) and its impact on the city of Philadelphia.

The new report, "Localizing and Sequencing the American Rescue Plan Act: Estimating the Impact in Philadelphia," elucidates the complexities of the bill while also charting out the work to come.

"ARPA requires communities across the country to organize, plan, and manage an influx of funds at a scale not seen in this century," according to an article by Bruce Katz, Karyn Bruggeman, and Colin Higgins that shares new of the report.

Metro areas will be securing and deploying funds made available through ARPA for years to come. Cities and states have spent months deliberating, often inconclusively, how to efficiently and equitably allocate their share of the $350 billion in State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds. They’re simultaneously working to secure new ARPA-funded competitive grants that are just now becoming available.

The city of Philadelphia has the potential of securing $9.2 billion in funding from ARPA, according to the report—a figure far larger than has previously been reported. The report includes a full accounting of the 64 programs that could deliver funding to the city. Given the huge opportunity, and the potential for missing out on many of those opportunities, the report suggests that strategic organizing will be necessary in Philadelphia and in all cities.

In tracking the flow of ARPA funds — and future federal spending — local leaders must consider which entities are receiving funds. If programs require applications, who must apply, and by when? How do ARPA and infrastructure funds fit into key short- and long-term policy goals? How can collaboration be fostered across silos when dozens of entities are likely to receive funds? And lastly, how can your community leverage private and philanthropic investments to multiply the impact of federal funds in distressed communities?

The article also details the phased rollout of ARPA funding, noting that the second, forthcoming phase will be the most critical for "securing ARPA's maximum impact." The Nowak Lab previously outlined the sequencing of ARPA funds in a Timing & Sequencing memo.

Thursday, August 12, 2021 in The New Localism

Texas Capitol Building

Preemption of Green Cities in Red States

State legislatures, frequently acting on behalf of corporate interests, are preempting local reforms and regulations necessary to limit the emissions that cause climate change.

September 7, 2021 - Joan Fitzgerald

High-Speed Rail

Democratic Legislators Obstruct Funding for California High Speed Rail

Voters approved a $9.9 billion bond for the California High Speed Rail project in 2008. State legislators would like that money to be spent in other ways in 2021.

September 10, 2021 - Sacramento Bee

Rendering of aerial view of Telosa city

Why Tech-Utopian City Plans Fail

Like others before him, e-commerce billionaire Marc Lore wants to build the ideal city from scratch. Urban experts don't have much faith in his chances.

September 9, 2021 - Bloomberg BusinessWeek

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.