16 Inspiring Examples of Communities Capitalizing on CDBG Funding (2023)

(Video) CDBG Best Practices Webinar Series: Leveraging CDBG Funds

For the last forty years, the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program has helped communities throughout the U.S. address a wide range of community development needs by improving housing, ensuring suitable living environments, and expanding economic opportunities.

Let’s take a look at 16 community projects that benefited from the CDBG program. Along the way, our community development specialists share tips for applying for the program.

Historic railroad depot renovated into community center
City of Abbotsford, Wis. | $225,000 CDBG Funding for Library/Senior Center/City Hall
The new Abbotsford Library and City Hall was built on a historical downtown site that once was home to a railroad depot. Prominent local fund raisers expressed a strong desire for the building to have a railroad depot theme. The building includes a new library, a public learning center, a community room and City Hall offices.

Local family sets tone for renovation of vacant building
City of St. Croix Falls, Wis. | $340,000 CDBG Funding for Library
The City selected the site of a vacant grocery store for their new public library. Additionally, a generous donation of $200,000 from a local family helped set the tone for a successful fundraising campaign. The library’s collection was moved from its previous location within a week with help from volunteers.

CDBG Funding Insight #1

“To qualify for CDBG funds, projects must meet one of three federal objectives. They must benefit low-to-moderate income residents, eliminate slum or blight, or eliminate a public health or safety issue.”
— Mike Larson, Community Development Specialist

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Historic Art Deco theater becomes Art-Deco-inspired library
Village of Frederic, Wis. | $240,000 CDBG Funding for Library/Downtown Revitalization
The library, featuring a remodeled exterior inspired by the art deco theater that once occupied the site, served as a catalyst for additional downtown development.

Community rallies around new library
City of Mellen, Wis. | $200,000 CDBG Funding for Library/Senior Center
The original library was sponsored by the American Legion in 1927. In 2009, a new library featuring multi-use space and a senior center opened its doors with a ribbon-cutting event attended by a State Senator and Representative, the Girl Scouts, and a proud community of volunteers and fund-raisers.

CDBG Funding Insight #2

“When reading through the requirements before applying for CDBG funds, pay extra attention to the reporting requirements, as the administration of these grants can be costly.”
— Mike Larson, Community Development Specialist

Library increases accessibility
City of Thorp, Wis. | $130,000 CDBG Funding for Library Renovation
Renovations of the Thorp Public Library were designed to improve accessibility and meet the physical requirements of modern library service, including handicap parking, accessible entrances, and the installation of a new elevator.

Unused church transforms into library and community center
Village of Westboro, Wis. | $127,000 CDBG Funding for Library/Community Center
With limited resources, the Village of Westboro renovated an unused church building into a new library and community center. Currently, the library hosts a weekly arts education program for aspiring elementary school artists.

Multi-purpose building adds to the community
Village of Osceola, Wis. | $489,000 CDBG Funding for Senior Center/Library/Village Hall
The building includes space for administration, courts, fire, library and police functions as well as a senior center.

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CDBG Funding Insight #3

“Knowing the difference between eligible and fundable projects may be the difference between receiving financial assistance for your project. Projects may be eligible by meeting the basic criteria set forth by the CDBG Program. However, state and federal administering CDBG Programs have different target priorities and benefits they must accomplish. Projects that address these priorities are fundable.”
— Nate Day, Senior Planner

Library and Village Hall becomes more accessible for growing community
Village of Turtle Lake, Wis. | $308,000 CDBG Funding for Library and Village Hall
The Turtle Lake Library has grown considerably since its humble beginnings in 1960. Services include delivery of library materials to retirement apartments in the area. Funds were needed to improve handicap and senior accessibility in the library and Village Hall.

New pipes to combat costly inflow and infiltration
City of Babbitt, Minn. | $150,000 CDBG Funding for aging infrastructure
With a large amount of inflow and infiltration (I&I) causing the City to treat large volumes of storm water and spring melt water, the City is using the grant to replace the underlying infrastructure and, afterward, reconstruct the streets.

CDBG Funding Insight #4

“Significant administrative pre-application work is needed to apply for Wisconsin CDBG funding. So starting early is important.”
— Nate Day, Senior Planner

Street reconstruction for vital industry
City of Chisholm, Minn. | $400,000 CDBG Funding for Aging Infrastructure
The City will be making major street improvements, which include replacing water mains, sanitary sewer lines, storm sewers and total street reconstruction, to preserve a vital alternate route to the industrial/business park and meet the needs of a new business there.

New infrastructure to reduce cost of water treatment
City of Virginia, Minn. | $200,000 CDBG Funding for Aging Infrastructure
With large amounts inflow and infiltration (I/I) entering the City's treatment system, the funding will be used repair trunk water and sewer mains that serve a large section of the north side of the City, including a large number of seniors and disadvantaged residents living in a nearby complex. The project will help the City meet MPCA requirements regarding I/I, upgrade water and sewer capacity and help reduce the City's annual O&M budget.

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Rehabilitation of the aging drinking water system
City of Akeley, Minn. | $310,000 CDBG Funding for Drinking Water Improvements
The City of Akeley’s drinking water system was in need of various improvements – their two wells needed rehabilitation, as did their water treatment plant and water tower. This small community, with a median household income of $36,667, was hard pressed to fund these improvements on their own. The $310,000 CDBG grant allowed them to move the project forward.

Removed arsenic from drinking water with new wells
City of Belgrade, Minn. | $417,000 CDBG Funding for a New Water Treatment Plant & Wells
The City had levels of arsenic in their drinking water above Minnesota Department of Health standards. In response, the city constructed a new well and a new drinking water treatment plant. In addition to $417,400 in CDBG funding, the City received a grant and a loan from the Minnesota Public Facilities Authority to complete the $1.9 million project.

Brought homes and downtown buildings to today’s standards
City of Spicer, Minn. | $617,000 CDBG Funding for Owner Occupied Housing Rehabilitation and Downtown Building Rehabilitation
Like many rural communities, the City of Spicer's most-pressing challenges are a deteriorating downtown and aging housing stock. CDBG was a perfect fit to address those needs, providing grant monies to bring homes and downtown buildings to today’s standards.

Funding Insight #5

“The CDBG Program generally serves large cities and densely populated areas, called “entitlement” communities. However, smaller, “non-entitlement” communities may also apply for grant funding under the right conditions.”
— Nate Day, Senior Planner

Revived a utility and road reconstruction
City of Sauk Rapids, Minn. | $77,000 CDBG Funding for Assessment Abatement on Utility & Street Reconstruction Project
The City knew they needed new streets and utilities, but struggled with how residents would handle the corresponding assessment. That’s where SEH funding experts came in, applying to the Small Cities Development Program under their Assessment Abatement activity. Knowing that the grant would pay for the income qualified households, the City ordered the project and there were no objections. The grant assisted 12 households with an assessment abatement grant.

Funding for a new wastewater treatment facility and collection system
City of South Haven, Minn. | $770,000 CDBG Funding for Wastewater Treatment Improvements & Housing Rehabilitation
In the late 1990s, after multiple failures with individual septic systems, the City of South Haven needed a new wastewater treatment facility and a wastewater collection system. The dilemma was funding. SEH funding specialists secured an 80 percent grant from Rural Development and a grant from Small Cities Development Program to fund the remaining 20 percent.

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About the Experts

Nate Day, AICP, is a senior planner in Wisconsin who helps strengthen communities. Nate assists communities obtain financial assistance for projects. Contact Nate

Mike Larson is a community development manager responsible for project financing, development and providing sound and innovative strategies to ensure that client projects and programs are undertaken in the most cost-effective manner. Contact Mark


What is an example of a block grant? ›

Examples of Federal block grant programs are the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, and the grants to states for social services under title XX of the Social Security Act.

Why is CDBG important? ›

The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program provides annual grants on a formula basis to states, cities, and counties to develop viable urban communities by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment, and by expanding economic opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons.

How does the block grant work? ›

Block grants provide state and local governments funding to assist them in addressing broad purposes, such as community development, social services, public health, or law enforcement, and generally provide them more control over the use of the funds than categorical grants.

What do the initials CDBG stand for? ›

Community Development Block Grant. The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program supports community development activities to build stronger and more resilient communities. To support community development, activities are identified through an ongoing process.

What are examples of grant? ›

A grant is a gift to an individual or company that does not need to be paid back. Research money, education loans, and stock options are some examples of grants.

What are the three main types of grants in aid? ›

ED offers three kinds of grants:
  • Discretionary grants: awarded using a competitive process.
  • Student loans or grants: to help students attend college.
  • Formula grants: uses formulas determined by Congress and has no application process.
Aug 1, 2022

What are the disadvantages of block grants? ›

Block grants are fixed amounts of money that commonly do not meet program need and erode over time. The fixed amount of a block grant is often based upon the program's spending levels at the time the block grant was created. This funding structure often fails to account for inflation and increased need.

Who is eligible for CSBG grants? ›

Individuals and families with low incomes as well as low-income communities. Uses: Block Grants — States receive funds according to a statutory formula. In turn, states fund a network of local eligible entities with 90 percent of their CSBG grant award.

What can CSBG funds be used for? ›

CSBG funding supports projects that: Lessen poverty in communities. Address the needs of low-income individuals including the homeless, migrants and the elderly. Provide services and activities addressing employment, education, better use of available income, housing, nutrition, emergency services and/or health.

What are the 4 types of grants? ›

A Beginners Guide to the 4 Types of Federal Grant Funding
  • Competitive Grants - Based on the Merit of Your Proposed Project. ...
  • Formula Grants – Awardees are Predetermined. ...
  • Continuation Grants – Renewal of an Existing Grant. ...
  • Pass-Through Grants – Issued by a Federal Agency.
Oct 18, 2022

What is the most common kind of grant? ›

Program/project grants

This is the most common type of grant. Program/project grants specify that funding may only be used to support the program or project referenced in your proposal.

What is a criticism of block grants? ›

Block grants' funding levels tend to fall short of meeting need, requiring benefit cuts, eligibility restrictions, or waiting lists. Funding levels are often inadequate initially and typically erode over time.

What are the examples of community development? ›

Community development issues such as an educated workforce; adequate infrastructure such as water, sewer and roads; housing; educational facilities; health care; child and elderly care; social services; and recreation are all crucial in promoting economic development opportunities."

What is one of the biggest problems with federal block grants? ›

What is one of the biggest problems with federal block grants? There is a need for greater accountability in how the funds are actually spent by the states.

What does LMI mean in CDBG? ›

Most activities funded by the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program are designed to benefit low- and moderate-income (LMI) persons. This benefit may take the form of housing, jobs, and services.

How do you write a funding proposal example? ›

How to write a grant proposal
  • Write a strong cover letter.
  • Start with a short executive summary.
  • Introduce your organization.
  • Write a direct problem statement.
  • State your goals and objectives.
  • Project design: methods and strategies.
  • The evaluation section: tracking success.
  • Other funding sources and sustainability.
Jun 23, 2021

How do you write a winning proposal for funding? ›

How to Write a Proposal for Funding
  1. Explain your project. Why are you raising money? ...
  2. Convey the importance of your cause. People want to see their donations as significant and important. ...
  3. Put a name to the face. Before making a donation, people need to empathize with your cause. ...
  4. Introduce yourself.

Whats a good reason to get a grant? ›

Grants can provide valuable resources for organizations to carry out projects or provide services they otherwise would not be able to. It is important to remember, however, that grants are competitive.

What are the 6 types of financial aid you could receive? ›

Types of Funding Available for Students
  • Scholarships. Scholarships are financial sponsorships that are awarded to students who excel academically or in a sport. ...
  • Study loans. ...
  • Government and Private Company Bursaries. ...
  • Fellowships. ...
  • NSFAS. ...
  • ISFAP. ...
  • Feenix. ...
  • Fundi.

What are five types of financial assistance? ›

Types of funding
  • Scholarship.
  • Bursary.
  • Study Loans.

What are 3 cons about grants? ›

  • You need to do time-consuming research on the granting agency before writing the grant.
  • You need a person talented and experienced in writing grants who is also very familiar with your organization.
  • Competition is fierce, and the success rate is low. ...
  • There are strings attached to the money you receive.

Why do Republicans like block grants? ›

Block grants give money for federal programs directly to states. Conservatives tend to like them because they prioritize local control, but they also lack accountability and lose value over time.

What is the downside to a government grant? ›

They are a Short-Term Solution

While they are a good financial boost initially, government grants are unsustainable as they are merely a short-term option. This means that you cannot rely on them to keep you afloat for long periods of time.

What is block funding disability? ›

Government subsidised programs, or 'block' funding, is a traditional funding model. Many Child & Family Community Services programs are funded in this way, while in Disability Support Services and Ageing Support Services, there's a shift to individual funding to provide more choice and flexibility.

What is the Social Care grant? ›

The Social Care Grant is a grant provided to upper tier authorities for social care expenditure, on both Adult and Children's Social Care. This table shows allocations for the grant in 2022 to 2023.

What is a block grant and where does it come from? ›

A block grant is an annual sum of money that is awarded by the federal government to a state or local government body to help fund a specific project or program. These became official in the U.S. beginning in 1966.

What are the pros and cons of block grants? ›

One advantage of block grants is that they allow the states flexibility in spending and less restrictive. One disadvantage of block grants is that money can be used ineffectively. As a way to organize government, federalism has both advantages and disadvantages.

Can CSBG funds be used as match? ›

Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) funds may be used to meet the match requirements for HUD's McKinney-Vento programs, including the Emergency Solutions Grants Program, as long as HUD's Appropriations Act language includes a provision authorizing recipients under HUD's McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act programs ...

How do I know if a grant is legitimate? ›

A real government agency won't ask you to pay a processing fee for a grant that you have already been awarded—or to pay for a list of grant-making institutions. Specifically, Federal government agencies and employees never ask people to wire money or use a prepaid debit card to pay for anything.

Is the government giving out free money? ›

The federal government does not offer grants or “free money” to individuals to start a business or cover personal expenses, contrary to what you might see online or in the media. Websites or other publications claiming to offer "free money from the government" are often scams.

Do you have to pay back a grant? ›

What is a government grant? A grant is a sum of money awarded to your business from the government that you don't have to pay back. It's awarded to your business to assist in its development, often for a specific purpose.

What are the two main sources of funding for grants? ›

The two primary sources of grant money are public and private funds. Public funds are obtained from governmental units, such as federal, state, and local agencies.

What are the chances of winning a grant? ›

What are your chances of being awarded a grant? On average, sources state that 1 in 10 applications are approved for funding.

How much does the average person get in grants? ›

Average and maximum financial aid
Type of AidAverage Amount
Federal Pell Grant$4,310
Federal Direct Stafford Loan$5,800 (dependent) $7,630 (independent)
Federal Work-Study$2,340
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant$670
2 more rows

Why do grants get denied? ›

The most common reasons for proposal rejection boil down to a surprisingly small set of simple and familiar failures: Deadline for submission was not met. Proposal topic was not appropriate to the funding agency to which it was submitted. Guidelines for proposal content, format, and/or length were not followed exactly.

Why do grants fail? ›

Grantseekers fail to carefully review and meticulously follow funder instructions, policies, and guidelines. The proposal hasn't adequately expressed the severity of the need. Proposals are boiler plated and shot gunned instead of tailored for each funder. Proposals are not consistent from section to section.

What is the most challenging part in applying for a grant? ›

The most difficult part of applying for a grant is identifying your needs and determining the policy and programming required to meet those needs. Creating a grant strategy can also feel overwhelming, so Brody recommends starting with a wish list.

What is an example of a categorical grant? ›

Medicaid and the food stamp program are examples of categorical grants. Block grants come with less stringent federal administrative conditions and provide recipients more flexibility over how to spend grant funds.

When were block grants used? ›

Block grants enacted from the 1960s through the early 1990s involved the consolidation of discretionary grant programs, with the aim of streamlining administration and enhancing state and local decision-making authority.

What are two different examples of types or categories of grants that someone can apply to? ›

Most grants awarded by foundations and corporate giving programs can be categorized as one of two types:
  • General Purpose or Operating Support Grants.
  • Program Development or Project Support Grants.

What is the most common type of grant? ›

Program/project grants

This is the most common type of grant. Program/project grants specify that funding may only be used to support the program or project referenced in your proposal.

What are the two types of categorical grants in aid? ›

There are two types of categorical grants:
  • Project grants: Money states apply for by submitting specific project proposals.
  • Formula grants: Money given to states according to a mathematical formula.

How do you qualify for social grants? ›

The applicant:
  1. Must be a South African citizen / permanent resident or refugee;
  2. Must be resident in South Africa;
  3. Must be 18 to 59 years of age;
  4. Must submit a medical / assessment report confirming disability;
  5. Medical assessment must not be older than 3 months at date of application;

What is the biggest problem with block grants? ›

Block grants' funding levels tend to fall short of meeting need, requiring benefit cuts, eligibility restrictions, or waiting lists. Funding levels are often inadequate initially and typically erode over time.

What is a common criticism of the block grants? ›

A common criticism leveled against block grants is that they lack mechanisms to hold state and local administrators accountable for outcomes, a reproach the Obama administration has made about the Community Services Block Grant program.

Which grants come from the federal government? ›

Examples of grants by type
  • Community Development Block Grant.
  • Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Services Block Grant (ADMS) ...
  • Local Law Enforcement Block Grant.
  • National Institutes of Health for bioscience research.
  • National Science Foundation for physical science research.

Which president increased block grants? ›

As proposed by President Nixon and approved by Congress, the block grants of the 1970s provided more money than the programs they replaced. With the additional funding, even states and cities that received a smaller share of federal aid under the new formulas received more money than in the past.

What is the opposite of a block grant? ›

The opposite of block grants is categorical grants, which are chunks of money given by the federal government to state and local governments that have far more rules attached to them.


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