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Connecting the Dots: A Guide to Leveraging Federal Funding Streams
 This tool was last updated in January 2018

For too long, the public have talked about islands of success—a college preparation program supporting middle school youth here, an afterschool program for first graders there and an apprenticeship program for high school dropouts still somewhere else. Now, we have data to support what we have instinctively known all along. These scattershot, disconnected approaches may serve as a beacon for a lucky few, but they are not an efficient way to make a lasting impact for our children.
In 2010, advocates, think tanks and the federal government came together to promote a new way to address the multiple needs of children and youth in communities across the country. Place-Based Initiatives (PBI) reach across several federal agencies to better serve some of the most disadvantaged communities in the country. The initiatives, managed by the Office of Innovation and Improvement at the US Department of Education, leverages the talents and experience of senior federal staff across multiple agencies to connect to and coordinate with their peers in 40 communities. These teams provide technical assistance and support so communities can plan and implement the use of federal resources in a more targeted, efficient and effective manner.
Nine locations across the country, selected through a competitive grant process, have been invited to test innovative strategies for serving disconnected youth ages 14-24. These young people are low income and either homeless, in foster care, involved in the juvenile justice system, at risk of dropping out of school or unemployed. Clearly, the young people meeting these criteria receive services and support from multiple state and federal programs. Too often these multiple agencies do not align services, compare caseloads or connect the dots across multiple services. This disjointed approach to meeting the needs of youth is an inefficient use of federal and state resources and often an ineffective way to support long term impact. Performance Partnership Pilots (P3) expand on the PBI idea by providing additional flexibility and options for using federal funding with the aim of increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of programs serving disconnected youth.
This map of federal funds and programs provides an important organizing tool to communities that seek to support place-based, cradle to career and aligned efforts for disconnected youth ages 14-24. We anticipate this guide will help encourage important conversations around the need for more coordinated, cohesive programs that serve children and youth in communities across the country.
About this Guide
This guide details over 140 programs across nine different federal agencies that can support place-based cradle to career initiatives. The guide aims to help communities understand the purpose and characteristics of available federal funding streams, map existing resources, identify additional federal funding streams, and determine whether and how to pursue opportunities not currently used in their communities.
Research Approach
The map’s developers aggregated data from multiple sources to gain a full picture of potential, eligible federal funding streams. They limited research to the federal agencies eligible for inclusion in P3 projects, and in the 2018 update, expanded the search to include two additional agencies. Given food access is such a critical issue for Promise Zone and P3 communities, we added opportunities from the US Department of Agriculture. And to more explicitly support the federally designated tribal communities, we have added some dedicated funding streams from the Department of Interior that will support their cradle-to-career initiatives. The nine agencies surveyed for this project include: 

  • US Department of Education
  • US Department of Labor
  • US Department of Health and Human Services
  • Corporation for National and Community Service
  • US Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • US Department of Justice
  • Institute of Museum and Library Services
  • US Department of Interior
  • US Department of Agriculture

The research team began by reviewing the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) entries for the target agencies, seeking to identify funding that could be used to support cradle to career initiatives—particularly for disconnected youth. The team reviewed both federal sources and external sources, such as the First Focus Children’s Budget, to gather more extensive information about allowable uses. Finally, the team vetted its research with federal agency staff.

For questions or suggestions, please contact Lucretia Murphy, lmurphy at jff.org  617.728.4446

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